This sample paper on Vicarious Learning Theory offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.
There are four separate types of vicarious learning. These are worth knowing, because they enable you can expect learners to change their behaviour as a result of observing someone else experience the principles described throughout this chapter. These four types of vicarious learning are summarized in Table 12.
The Modeling Effect occurs when a person almost directly duplicates a behavior he has seen someone else perform and which the observer has not previously suppressed. The observer displays new behaviors that prior to the modeling had a zero probability of occurring. For example, my son bats the way he does because Barry Larkin is successful with that batting stance. The Eliciting Effect occurs when the observer performs a behavior to the model’s, but still somewhat different.
For example, if I hear that a famous celebrity has donated $50,000 to charity, I would be demonstrating the Eliciting Effect if this generosity prompted me to volunteer to umpire Little League basebal games. The Disinhibitory Effect occurs when a person who has previously refrained from a behavior goes ahead and performs that behavior after seeing a model perform the behavior without receiving any negative consequences.
For example, if I already knew how to speed in my automobile but refrained from doing so out of fear of a speeding ticket, I could demonstrate the Disinhibitory Effect by driving more quickly after several cars passed me on the expressway with no apparent negative consequences.
The Inhibitory Effect occurs when a person refrains from a behavior after seeing a model punished for engaging in that behavior. For example, I once stopped asking questions in a high school class after I saw several students receive assignments to write reports on topics about which they asked questions.
As Table 12. 1 shows, any of these four types of vicarious learning can lead to the development of either desirable or undesirable behaviors. TABLE 12. 1 Descriptions and Examples of Specific Types of Vicarious (Observational) Learning. Description Positive Example Negative Example Modeling Effect (A person directly imitated — models—the behavior of another person. )A person almost directly duplicates a behavior he has seen someon else perform and which the observer has not previously suppressed.
The teacher uses an effective thinking strategy to solve a word problem, and the student employs that same strategy when faced with a similar problem in the future. The teacher responds sarcastically to a student question. Student’s who witness this sarcasm later use the same strategy in responding to their peers. Eliciting Effect (A behavior is elicited — drawn forth — rather than duplicated. )A person performs a behavior to the model’s, but still somewhat different. The teacher uses an effective thinking strategy to solve a word problem.
When the student is faced with a similar problem in the future, he tries a different strategy which is similar (but not identical) to the one used by the teacher and which the student already knew how to employ. The teacher responds sarcastically to a student question. A student who witnesses this sarcasm later punches a friend who annoys him. Disinhibitory Effect (The person gets rid of an inhibition — hesitation — to do something. ) A person who has previously refrained from a behavior goes ahead and per-forms that behavior after seeing a model do so without receiving any negative consequences.
A student is afraid to give a speech to the class because she thinks her classmates will make fun of her. A friend gives a speech, and no one makes fun of the friend. The student is now more willing to give her own speech. A student refrains from chewing gum in class, because she knows this behavior will be punished. A classmate in the front row chews gum, and the substitute teacher does nothing about it. The first student also begins chewing gum. Inhibitory Effect (The person is inhibited — stopped — from doing the behavior. )A person refrains from a behavior after seeing a model punished for engaging in that behavior.
A child stops cheating on tests when he sees a movie in which a child is punished for cheating on tests. A child stops volunteering information in class because he thinks the teacher reacts harshly to other children who volunteer information. Models that people imitate take a wide variety of forms. A student may imitate another student, a teacher, a parent, a sports celebrity, a movie star, a cartoon character, a fictional character in a novel, a person demonstrating a skill in an educational film — anyone performing a behavior that can be observed (even in the observer’s imagination) can qualify as a model.
It is also important to note that the behavior to be imitated takes shape within the mind of the observer. This means that if the observer thinks the model has been reinforced for performing a behavior, then the observer is likely to imitate that behavior — even if the model did not really perform that behavior or even if the model himself perceived the consequences to be unpleasant rather than pleasant. It is even possible to have people serve as models for themselves. For example, a teacher could view a videotape of her own performance in the classroom.
If her performance contained errors, feedback from a knowledgeable colleague could enable her to visualize how she would do a better job next time. Athletes often use tapes of themselves during good times to teach themselves ways to improve during a slump in their performance. Box 12. 1 Accidental Modeling Kirk uses very offensive language in talking back to Mr. Winters. Mr. Winters realizes that Kirk is just trying to get his attention, and so he calmly ignores Kirk and attempts to go on with the class.
Soon, other students start using offensive language. Ida is the first student of the year to fail to bring in her math assignment. Mrs. Peters knows from previous experience that keeping her for a detention will not be aversive to Ida but that a call to Ida’s mother will probably stop the problem for the rest of the year. However, several of the other students think that Ida has gotten by without doing her work, and so they slack off on their own work. Mary makes a slightly rude remark to Mr. King. Mr.
King knows that Mary is testing him, and so he comes down on her with a very severe rebuke in front of the entire class. In addition, he talks to Mary alone after class, and urges her to stop playing games and get on with her job of learning. Mary appreciates Mr. King’s interest and decides to bear down and do good work in the course. However, several of the students in the class who don’t know Mary or Mr. King very well decide to be as quiet as possible in the class. Whenever Mr. King raises a question, they look down so that he won’t call on them and ridicule them.
In the first two examples, the observers inaccurately concluded that Kirk and Ida were receiving reinforcement for their undesirable behaviors. Even though this perception was inaccurate, these observers still experienced vicarious reinforcement, and their behaviors were strengthened. In the third example, Mr. King has taken successful steps to minimize negative side effects in Mary; but the negative side effects have had an impact on other students. By anticipating such accidental modeling, we can greatly reduce inappropriate learning.