Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory focuses on learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another and includes such concepts as observational learning, imitation and modelling. Albert Bandura is considered the leading proponent of this theory.
Social learning theory is in part an extension on operant principles with the most notable difference being the role of cognition. Social learning theory holds that behaviour can not only be learnt through direct experience with reinforcements or punishments but also through observation of the behaviour of other people.
In brief social learning theory suggests that through observation of others- especially those we hold in esteem, people can learn at a cognitive level how to imitate the observed behaviour. Provided the opportunity is present this behaviour can then be practiced and refined; the behaviour is then reinforced or punished both internally and externally which assists in shaping and encouraging future behaviour. The inclusion of cognition as a means of learning is what separates it from operant theory.
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