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Social Cognitive Theory: How We Learn From the Behavior of Others

Four Processes Of Observational Learning

  • Attentional: When people observe their model.
  • Retention: When the observed information is remembered.
  • Production: When the observed information is recalled and reconstructed later, producing a variation of the learned model.
  • Motivational: Depending on the feedback and the outcome, the individual is motivated or demotivated to produce the same.

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Social Cognitive Theory: How We Learn From the Behavior of Others

Social Cognitive Theory: How We Learn From the Behavior of Others

https://www.thoughtco.com/social-cognitive-theory-4174567

thoughtco.com

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Key Ideas

Social Cognitive Theory

It is a learning theory developed by Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura in the 60s/70s and provides an understanding of how people get influenced and in turn influence their environment.

It delves into self-learning through observation and modelling, of desirable or undesirable behaviours, and then acting them out on their own.

Observational Learning

Behaviourist B.F. Skinner had theorized that learning can only be achieved by individual action.

Social Cognitive Theory, however, states that an individual can learn by observing and imitating models, grasping and reproducing the learning much faster.

Four Processes Of Observational Learning

  • Attentional: When people observe their model.
  • Retention: When the observed information is remembered.
  • Production: When the observed information is recalled and reconstructed later, producing a variation of the learned model.
  • Motivational: Depending on the feedback and the outcome, the individual is motivated or demotivated to produce the same.

Models and Self- Efficacy

Models become a source of inspiration, motivation and are enablers of self-learning. Successful outcomes increase the observer’s self-efficacy and impacts one’s personal growth and change. This positive self-belief can make all the difference in the course of life of the individual.

Example: TV sitcoms in India promoted gender equality and raised women’s status through gripping stories, and made the masses understand the message to emulate.

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Learning theories

Learning theories develop hypotheses that describe how learning takes place.

The major theories of learning are the following: 

  • behaviorist theories 
  • co...
Behaviorism theories

The behaviorist perspectives of learning originated in the early 1900s. The main idea of behaviorism is that learning consists of a change in behavior because of obtaining, strengthening and applying associations between input from the world, and observations of the individual.

  • Learning is reinforced by exercise and repetition, followed by a positive reward.
  • Learning takes place when the right parts of more complex behavior are rewarded.
Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology started in the late 1950s and contributed to the move away from behaviorism.

  • Instead of viewing people as collections of responses to external stimuli, people are viewed as information processors.
  • Cognitive psychology was influenced by the computer that processes information, that became analogous to the human mind.
  • Cognitive psychology understands learning as absorbing knowledge, acting on it, and storing it in memory.
  • The main teaching methods are lecturing and reading textbooks, where the learner receives knowledge passively.

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The Impostor Syndrome
The Impostor Syndrome

It is the feeling that you are not worthy of your designation, title, position or success.

Your accomplishments may be due to luck or effort, but you feel you lack the talent or skill ...

The Reality of Impostor Syndrome
  • The impostor syndrome is like a nagging feeling that our success might be due to luck, good timing, or even a computer error.
  • It makes us think we have done nothing, and that we secretly are a fraud for taking undue credit.
  • The person suffering from an impostor syndrome lives in fear that soon the 'secret' about his true nature will be uncovered.
Self-Efficacy is the Answer

The antidote to the impostor syndrome is self-efficacy, which is about learning one's own value.

Self-efficacy is described as a perceived ability to succeed at a particular task. It means having rock-solid confidence, a supercharged belief in your ability. 

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Creating Psychological Distance
Creating Psychological Distance

Many of us have been in a situation where our emotions prevent us from responding appropriately and seeing the big picture. For example, in cases where we feel extreme anger, stress, anxiety, and s...

Types of Psychological Distancing
  • Time: We think differently about events that are far in the future, compared to activities in the near future. For events in the distant future, we use abstract terms that lack concrete action.
  • Space: We use abstract terms to describe events within a physically-near space than events that happen in a space further away.
  • Social distance: When we describe someone that is different to us, we use abstract qualities (them and us).
  • Hypothetically: We use abstract words and terms to describe events that may not happen compared to events that are more likely to happen.
Psychological Distancing and Executive Functioning

Executive functioning is the set of abilities and behaviors that is controlled by the frontal lobe, including:

  • Goal-directed and planning behaviours, such as deciding how to get dressed.
  • Inhibiting responses such as waiting your turn.
  • Monitoring your behavior and correcting mistakes.
  • Changing your behavior in response to a change in the environment.

Executive functioning helps you to regulate your emotions better, which gives rise to psychological distancing.

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Music benefits us

One study showed that people with Alzheimer's disease handle their stressful emotions better when they listen to music.

Other studies revealed that certain types of musi...

Music rewards us

In a musical reward experiment, researchers found that music is, in itself, a viable reward to motivate the brain to learn new information. 

New Year Resolutions that Stick

Whether it is a resolution to lose weight, to do more exercise, or to consume less sugar, we all have encountered hardships trying to stick with them.

Health-related New Year Resolutions are ...

One Thing At A Time

Making resolutions requires no effort, but if we decide to suddenly shift towards improving too many of our behaviors at once, it can backfire.

Focus on one thing that you want to change, at a time, and commit to it.

What You Can Control

You may not be able to change the external circumstances, stressful situations, or work environment. What you can do is control how you react to negative forces and stressful situations.

For example: If you get unhealthy food at your home, you can control how or when you eat it.

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Theory of mind

This is a social-cognitive skill that relates to the ability to think about your own mental state and the mental states of other people.
It's called a theory because what we believe is go...

Benefits of the theory of the mind

In our daily interactions with other people, it is important to be able to understand their mental states and to think about how those mental states might influence their actions.
The theory of the mind helps us understand how people think, predict their behavior and solve interpersonal conflicts.

Stages of the Theory of mind
  1. The understanding that the reasons why people might want something may differ from one person to the next.
  2. The understanding that people can have different beliefs about the same thing or situation.
  3. The understanding that people may not comprehend or have the knowledge that something is true.
  4. The understanding that people can hold false beliefs about the world.
  5. The understanding that people can have hidden emotions, or that they may act one way while feeling another way.

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Primary factors that make horror films alluring
  • Tension - Generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock and gore.
  • Relevance - The horror film may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fea...
Viewing motivators for horror movies
  • Gore watchers typically have low empathy, high sensation seeking, and a strong identification with the killer.
  • Thrill watchers typically have both high empathy and sensation seeking;they identify themselves more with the victims and like the suspense of the film.
  • Independent watchers typically have a high empathy for the victim along with a high positive effect for overcoming fear.
  • Problem watchers typically have high empathy for the victim but are characterized by negative effect (particularly a sense of helplessness).
Theories on why we love to watch horror films
  • Dr. Carl Jung believed horror films “tapped into primordial archetypes buried deep in our collective subconscious – images like shadow and mother play important role in the horror genre”.
  • Horror films are watched as a way of purging negative emotions and/or as a way to relieve pent-up aggression.
  • Horror movies are enjoyed because the people on screen getting killed deserve it.
  • Cultural historian David Skal has argued that horror films simply reflect our societal fears.
Creating quantitative models
Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

In order to solve this, compu...

The Sims computer simulation

These models represent collections of individual people described by computer algorithms that capture a specific set of traits, such as a tendency to cooperate or not.

  • You can give them new personalities to see how they would behave.
  • You can observe social processes in action.
  • You can observe time scales, from seconds to generations.
  • You can watch the spread of certain behaviors throughout a population and you can see how certain behaviors influence other behaviors.

The patterns that emerge can tell you things about large-scale social interaction that lab experiments and real people never could.

The human instinct to cooperate

There seems to be evolutionary logic to the human ability to cooperate but adjust if necessary. To trust, but verify. 

We generally collaborate with other people because it benefits us. Our rational minds let us work out when we might occasionally gain by acting selfishly instead.

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