- Published: August 26, 2022
- Updated: August 26, 2022
- University / College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Level: Masters
- Language: English
- Downloads: 46
Observational (Social) Learning Introduction. This is a form of learning through the observing behavior of others. Unlike classical conditioning, learning occurs without the need for reinforcement. One learn passively through observing a model. A social model could be a sibling, parent, teacher or any other person whom the learner admire for a particular trait. Although the model may not be aware r even has the intention to influence the learners character, learning occurs.
Through social learning, an individual may change a group through diffusion chain. This occurs when persons behavior becomes a role model, and unknowingly many people admire and learn from the person. Albert Bandura in his theory postulated that social learning is the most common form of learning in a society (Hopper, Flynn, Wood, & Whiten, 2010). It is described as a passive and ongoing accumulation of knowledge and acquisition of behavior through observation. It is an essential way of learning that has been found on day-to-day activities especially among children.
For instance, a child asking for a cookie after witnessing an older sibling being punished for taking a cookie without asking for it. In this situation, observation occurs and more importantly, a lesson is learned. The whipping of the elder child at the presence of the younger serves as an important lesson to the younger child. Also a new employee learning to come to work in time after witnessing a colleague being fired because of reporting to work late. In essence firing the worker without the manager giving a written or verbal warning is enough to trigger observational learning.
Another common example is often seen among children where they show basic steps in cooking during ” cooking” at a play kitchen in the school. Of course, at a pre-school age no mother has taught them systematic approach to cooking. However, in their play kitchens at school they can show basic skills they observe at home.
Although observational learning appears to occur spontaneously, they are steps through which the process of learning occurs. Bandura observed four steps involved; first is the attention that the learner gives to the model or a process being learned. It is the fundamental principle of learning. Paying attention allows internalization of steps involved or elements of behavior. Secondly, retaining what is observed is critical in learning. Producing the behavior of activity observed and having the motivation to do it again makes observational learning complete (Torriero, Oliveri, Koch, Caltagirone, & Petrosini, 2007). Based on this four-step process, it is evident that this learning occurs in an organized manner although this may not be observable.
Evidently, three primary factors are needed for social learning to occur. Firstly, the learner should have adequate time to observe a model to learn. Social learning over a period through the accumulation of observations. Secondly, a model should have a particular trait that a leaner finds captivating. Learning occurs when there is willingness and attraction to a new idea or simply through the accumulation of observations. Besides, for learning to happen, the learner should be motivated to replicate the behavior seen.
Observational learning occurs continuously and through the accumulation of observed behavior. Incidentally, this form of behavior occurs without necessarily the knowledge of the model. Adequate contact, desirable character, and a positive environment are key components that facilitate social learning.
Hopper, L. M., Flynn, E. G., Wood, L. A. N., & Whiten, A. (2010). Observational learning of tool use in children: Investigating cultural spread through diffusion chains and learning mechanisms through ghost displays. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 106(1), 82–97. http://doi. org/10. 1016/j. jecp. 2009. 12. 001
Torriero, S., Oliveri, M., Koch, G., Caltagirone, C., & Petrosini, L. (2007). The what and how of observational learning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(10), 1656–1663. http://doi. org/10. 1162/jocn. 2007. 19. 10. 1656