Perspectives of the Social Learning Theory Term Paper

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[. . .] A child who is introduced to a sport at an early age, is likely going to excel at this sport. This is because the child will practice continuously and advance their skills. The social learning theory states that their environment and not their genetics influence a person's behavior. The traits a person has are shaped by their environment and life experiences. Behavior is learnt, and a person will only learn through observing his or her models. The observations they make will determine if they are aggressive individuals, or they are polite in their behaviors.

Can people really change who they are?

There is potential for people to change who they are based on their environment. The behaviors that a person picks up or has are learnt from their environment. If the individual's environment is changed, it is possible for them to change and adapt to the new environment. Behavior modification is possible and would constitute of procedures that mix modeling and conditioning to eliminate and instill desirable behavior or responses. It has been proven that behavior modification is possible, and it has been successful in developmental problems. Language delays, extreme fears, and persistent aggression are some of the issues successfully modified using behavior modification (Wolpe & Plaud, 1997). The social learning theory emphasizes on the observations made in the environment. This would signify that if a person is moved to different setting or environment, they will definitely learn and change to adjust to the new experiences observed.

Using reinforcements and punishment, the theory ensures that an individual could be motivated to change their behavior. Researchers were able to reduce unruliness of four and five-year-olds in a preschool by rewarding them with tokens, which they could later exchange for candy. When the children behaved inappropriately, the researchers would take away the tokens. Creating attention is effective in distracting children from bad or unwanted behavior. Demonstrating the different rewards a person could receive for behaving in a certain way could motivate them to change and adopt the new behavior. Rewards and punishments are only used for motivating the individual. Without motivation, the individual is not likely to imitate the modeled behavior. Different researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to change human and animal behavior by using rewards and punishments.

Motivators for people's actions

Thoughts will influence behavior and behavior will drive performance. Based on the social learning theory the motivation for performing an activity or a behavior is the reinforcement the individual would receive. The avoidance of punishment could also be a motivator to individuals. Punishment is normally associated with pain or fear. In order for the person to evade such pain, they will be motivated to perform as expected and mimic the intended behavior. With time and constant practice, they will start performing the behavior naturally, and they will have adapted to the new behavior. Motivation will come from two sources namely other people or oneself. Positive reinforcement is normally accompanied with increased future frequency. Motivation from oneself will occur when an individual personally wants to learn or modify their behavior. This kind of motivation is effective since it comes from within the individual and is most likely to succeed.

Motivation from others might be in terms of seeing the rewards the others receive. When a person is rewarded for the action, it is possible that others will also strive to do better in order for them to receive a reward. This motivation is reward based, and it might be effective in behavior modification. The thoughts, actions, behavior, and feelings of an individual stem from the observations the individual made when they were growing up. These are all formed from their environment, which motivates them to behave in a certain manner. The conditions they faced while growing up play a vital role in motivating them to reproduce the actions. Having learnt from an early age, the individual will reproduce the behaviors they observed and practice them when the situation arises. Since the individual was encouraged or was not punished, they were motivated to continue in the same direction. This was the motivation they needed, and this reinforced their behaviors.

People are basically good

All persons are born good, and the environment they are raised up in that teaches them to be bad or selfish. Children are born with not behavior or thoughts. They will learn all this from the models in their life. Scientists have demonstrated that is it possible for a young child to be modelled in a specific way. Researchers have argued that a child could be taught to choose a certain career instead of the others. Modeling the child to certain career will allow them to make observations that they will later use in career selection. This demonstrates that there is a possibility to teach a person evil even if they are good. Social learning theory argues that all behaviors are picked from a person's environment. It is possible for a good worker to become evil if they are placed in a toxic work environment. For example, a good worker placed in a work environment where other employees are not concerned with their work is most likely to adapt to this culture after some time. The environment would not allow the employee to stay or do good.

People are adaptive, and they will learn goodness from their environment. The observers will replicate the behaviors of their models. The bobo doll experiment is a good example. In the experiment, children are shown a video of an adult beating a bobo doll. Later when the children are taken to the room with the bobo doll, they imitated the behavior they had seen on the video. The same was repeated with a clown instead of the bobo doll, and the behavior was repeated. Another set of children was shown a different video, and they replicated what they had seen on the video. This clearly shows that an individual's behavior is influenced by what they observed while growing up. Therefore, the scientists' argument that the minds of children are blank and they are filled from the environment is true.

Limitations of the theory

The theory has placed much emphasis on what is been observed instead of what the observer does with this information observed (Pratt et al., 2010). This is a limitation because the observer might not demonstrate immediately what they have observed, but they might have nasty episodes that cannot be explained. The observations made should be analyzed and what the observer does with the information determined. This would offer more insights to researchers as they would easily understand why some individuals would not be violent even after watching violent movies or games. It has been argued that violence on media results in violence in real life, but there is little evidence towards this assumption. The theory does not explain all behavior. There is no way for explaining why some children after watching the bobo doll been beaten did not replicate the same action. This failure to explain all behaviors is limiting because people cannot understand or explain certain action s based on the theory. Other theorists' have also argued that the theory is generalized. This would mean that the theory does not delve deeper to establish differences. People would view reward and punishment quite differently. This point is not taken into account by the theory. While one person would see something as a reward, another person could view this as punishment. Therefore, it is necessary to establish each person's reward and punishment view. This would offer the researchers necessary information to determine if the rewards and punishments are equal for all participants.

Understanding what a person does with the observations they make is vital to understand how they would react when a similar situation occurs. The theory has also indicated that not all observations result in a new behavior. This clearly means that some people will observe something, and they will still not learn or reproduce what they observed. This is a general weakness of the theory, because it would be difficult to determine if a person's reactions or behavior is based on what they observed or they might have learnt the behavior from a different environment.

References

Akers, R.L. (2011). Social learning and social structure: A general theory of crime and deviance. Piscataway Township, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Akers, R.L., & Jensen, G.F. (2011). Social learning theory and the explanation of crime (Vol. 1). Piscataway Township, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Bandura, A., & McClelland, D.C. (1977). Social learning theory.

Cherry, K. (2011). Social Learning Theory an Overview of Bandura's Social learning Theory. The New York Times Company.(online article).

Lam, S.K., Kraus, F., & Ahearne, M. (2010). The diffusion of market orientation throughout the organization: a social learning theory perspective. Journal of Marketing, 74(5), 61-79.

Pratt, T.C., Cullen, F.T., Sellers, C.S., Thomas Winfree Jr., L., Madensen, T.D., Daigle, L.E., . . . Gau, J.M. (2010). The empirical status of social learning theory:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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