Essay 4 Pieter van Rooyen 17333652 Albert bandura can be regarded as one of the most important representatives of social cognitive learning theories. He’s theory on observational learning (learning by observing behavior) is the single most important form of learning. He argues that people learn most of their behavior through observation and only a little through direct contact. The reason for this is the complexity of most behavior, and that this can’t be learned through verbal instructions.
This essay will focus on the principles of observational learning, highlight the strength and weaknesses, and also how observational learning can promote positive intergroup relations on campus at the University of Stellenbosch.
Observation is a common learning tool and many, if not most do it unconsciously. The term modeling is used to describe this. This is when an observer observes the behavior of a model and then repeats the behavior. There are a few factors that influence this observational learning.
They are the nature of the modeled behavior, the characteristics of the model, the characteristics of the observer, the result of the models behavior and the self-efficacy perception of the observer.
The nature of the modeled behavior refers to the actual behavior. The situation in which the behavior takes place and if it is new or old behavior. New behavior attracts more attention than old behavior. The characteristics of the model plays an important role in observation learning.
This includes age, sex, race and status. A model with high status is more likely to be imitated.
The observer’s characteristics also play a major role in learning new behavior. The motivation and interests of the observer as well as the values and self-confidence has a major impact on the selection of models to imitate. An important factor is the result of the models behavior to determine whom to imitate. The reward gained from a certain behavior is a major motivator to imitate behavior.
The final factor, the self-efficacy perception of the observer means that the observer needs to believe in his own capabilities to reproduce behavior. One can’t try to imitate an Olympic gymnast if you don’t believe you can. The strength of Bandura’s observational learning theory is that it gives a clear and accurate picture of how behavior is learnt. We can clearly see that adults and children copy each other’s behavior in certain situations. Strength to his theory is that it can be applied to real world problems, like cultural gaps or discipline problems at school level.
This could mean that proper behavior can result large scale changes among people if only more people model the right behavior. One of the clear weaknesses in the observational learning theory is that too much emphasis is placed on what happens to the observer after he imitates the model rather that what the observer actually does with the information gained from the model. Intergroup relations at the University of Stellenbosch can really benefit from positive social behavior.
When one social group sees another social group, regardless of race, gender, age or religion act in a positive and uplifting manner and reap rewarding results from this, this could lead to change in the former social group. Even more, if this is done properly, it can quickly spread and even more social groups can bring on change, first in their own group then by modeling it, change another group. This can defiantly lead to a positive change on Stellenbosch campus.