What Is Social Learning Theory?

Social learning theory combines cognitive learning theory (which posits that learning is influenced by psychological factors) and behavioral learning theory (which assumes that learning is based on responses to environmental stimuli). Albert Bandura integrated these two theories and came up with four requirements for learning: observation (environmental), retention (cognitive), reproduction (cognitive), and motivation (both). This integrative approach to learning was called social learning theory. 

One of the most famous experiments performed by Bandura is the famous bobo doll experiment. Children observed as adults modeled either violent or passive behavior towards the doll, and this observation was found to influence the manner in which the children subsequently interacted with the dolls. Children who observed violent behavior behaved violently toward the doll and vice versa.

Recent Posts on Social Learning Theory

Why We Love to Hate Politicians

You may think politicians deserve the hate spewed at them because others seem to feel that way. It helps to know that the mammal brain bonds around common enemies. The mammal brain seeks safe ways to oppose power. The mammal brain mirrors others and relies on old pathways. Your inner mammal feels good when you hate politicians, which lures you to forget that it's hate.

The True Value of Ignorance

By Madelyn Blair Ph.D. on September 15, 2015 Resilient Leadership
Venturing out of your comfort zone is dangerous. Discover why Twyla Tharp loves this uncomfortable space.

5 Lessons From Informal Sports

By Bernard L. De Koven on August 20, 2015 On Having Fun
“Real life is an informal game. The rules are endlessly modifiable and you must do your part to create them. In the end, there are no winners or losers; we all wind up in the same place." - Peter Gray

What Are the Five Mistakes That Wealthy People Rarely Make?

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on August 19, 2015 Motivate!
How do you compare to the psychologically rich?

Hot Bread and Butter - the game

By Bernard L. De Koven on August 18, 2015 On Having Fun
Sometimes kids games are pure theater. Here's one that captures the drama of becoming adult.

When Confusion Is Funny

By Bernard L. De Koven on August 14, 2015 On Having Fun
Sometimes, failing is more fun than winning.

Technology, Turing and Child Development

What happens when you go with kids to the Tech Museum of Innovation? You start thinking about kids, technology, and learning machines.


Playing well together

My Dad's Silly, Simple, Crazy Way to Make Decisions

My mom's death forced my dad to make one of the biggest decisions he had made in a long time. His approach to the decision turned out to be genius. And all this time, I thought I was the one who knew how to make decisions. Man, was I wrong.

9 Reasons You Procrastinate (and 9 Ways to Stop)

Researchers tend to agree that the reason any particular individual procrastinates can vary. The best cure is usually to respond to whatever reason might be specific for you.

Do Teens Imitate the Sex They See in the Movies?

Although research finds that exposure to sexualized media is linked to more sexual partners and unprotected sex among teens, it is premature to suggest that sex should be edited out from the movies entirely.

Here’s A Smart Monkey!

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on June 01, 2015 Screen Time
All good preschool children’s programs include several factors that make them successful and long running, which can be explained by the included content and the medium through which it is delivered.

Where Do Babies Come From? From Peer Pressure, Apparently.

We commonly consider fertility outcomes to be idiosyncratic or accidental. But parenthood spreads through social networks, passing between siblings, friends, and co-workers. Why might the baby bug be so contagious and how do prospective parents catch it?

Expanding the Heart While Educating the Mind

The Hippie gene has made its way into the Millennial’s DNA. The “old school” approach to work and education is not right for them. A Millennial would rather be a “freelancer” than a “cog-in-the-wheel” of so-called progress. Their highest aspiration is to become “independent freelancers and global citizens who make a difference in the world.”

How Does Body Posture Affect Early Learning and Memory?

A fascinating new study has combined state-of-the-art robotics with research on human infants to reveal that posture plays a critical role in the early stages of acquiring new knowledge.

Make Social Learning Stick: How Parents Can Help Children

For special needs children, many daily activities and experiences like getting ready for school, going to the doctor, having a play date and celebrating birthdays are very challenging. The good news: these events can become opportunities for teaching and reinforcing expected social and emotional behavior.

Are Humans Unique?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 18, 2015 The Human Beast
The argument for human uniqueness is of mostly historical interest. As we gained more understanding of animal behavior, we learned that their psychology has more in common with us than had been imagined previously.

How Abusive Bosses Can Destroy Teamwork

By Ray Williams on January 24, 2015 Wired for Success
There is increasing evidence that there is a clear link between bad leaders and employee health and productivity problems, which is turn, can be a huge liability for organizations.

The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins: We Are Not Alone

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 02, 2014 Animal Emotions
A new book called "The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins" by renowned researchers Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendall is a must read. It is perfect for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses and also for a broad audience that is interested not only in whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans, but also in other animals in which culture is clearly and amply present.

4 Reasons Why Your Personality May Not Matter

How much of our behavior is caused by our personalities, and how much is caused by other factors? You might be surprised by when, how, and why personality doesn't matter.

Getting That Exercise Habit

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on October 27, 2014 Media Spotlight
For older adults, staying the course means developing confidence that the exercise program is helping you stay healthy and that you are making progress in meeting the health goals you set or yourself when you started. The key is to develop a feeling of self-efficacy about staying fit. A new research study explores what works best to motivate people to exercise.

Sibling Sex and Gender Inequality

Interacting with other-sex siblings, especially older siblings, instills gender-atypical interests and attitudes, potentially promoting gender egalitarianism in adulthood. However, parents gender-stereotype their children more when they have at least one child of each sex, pushing gender-stereotypical behavior and recreating adult gender inequalities in leisure and pay.

Sexing the Autistic Brain: Extreme Male?

If you went to Mars would you find men and individuals with ASD? A look at the extreme male brain theory of ASD. Co-authored with Barbara D’Entremont, Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada.

Three Reasons Why We Shouldn't Confuse Selfies with Vanity

By Dara Greenwood Ph.D. on September 30, 2014 Mirror, Mirror
Everywhere you turn, someone is worrying about or debating the perceived epidemic levels of vanity and narcissism thought to motivate selfies and other forms of self-oriented social media behavior. However, framing the issue as one of superficial self-aggrandizement may be neither accurate nor useful. Here are at least three reasons why...

Playing with Children: Should You, and If So, How?

By Peter Gray on September 06, 2014 Freedom to Learn
Parent-child play is ruined when either the parent or the child dominates. Fun occurs when there is no domination in either direction. Parent-child play is not as natural, nor as crucial for the child's development, as child-child play, but it can still be fun.

Why Are We Afraid of Spiders?

The involvement of disgust and cultural history in spider phobia suggests that such fear may have a complex origin

Life Is Cheap, if It's for Sale

Research suggests that the current system of buying and trading and selling animals “incentivizes” people to devalue animals in exchange for personal gain. This essay explores how markets lead to moral decay in relation to animals.

A First-Person Perspective on Anxiety and Autism

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I interviewed Dr. Catharine Alvarez so that she could share her perspective on autism and anxiety as an adult on the autism spectrum. We hear primarily about children and teens with autism, and it's so important to hear the voices of adults who experience autism themselves.

Baby Brains: The Secrets of the Very Young

How to get a Yale diploma in a few easy steps

Infant Couch Potatoes

Should babies (0-2) be playing with tablets, watching television or videos?