Observational Learning Essay

This research aims to discuss the application of observational learning on daily life. In research, it will be divided into five parts. The first part is “The definition of Observational Learning”, the second part is “Four processes of observational learning”, the third part is “The role of reinforcement in observational learning”, the forth part is “The application of observational learning”, and the final part is conclusion.

The definition of Observational Learning Observational learning is based primarily on the work of Albert Bandura (1977).It is the capacity to acquire a new response through observing others’ behavior. Thus, it is innate and inborn. We learn most of behavior, norms or values in our life through observational learning, this capacity help shape our personalities and fitting ourselves into the society. Therefore, observational learning is also called “social learning”. A model is required. People, who can draw individual’s attention on their external behavior or events, can be the model.

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Imitation is similar to observational learning because they both acquire a new response or behavior through observation.However, they are not the same. Imitation can be a type of responses of observational learning. The individuals, after observing others’ behavior, they may acquire different responses due to the environment and their arousals. For instance, they may imitate what they have seen or refrain doing it or another responses. Therefore, the difference is that imitation only result a single response. In contrast, Observational learning leads to many responses based on the environment and arousal.

Four processes of observational learningIn this section, four processes of observational learning will be discussed. In order to achieve a successful observational learning, four processes should always occur during the learning process. The four processes of observational learning: 1. Attention processes, which regulate exploration and perception of modeled activities (Bandura, 1986). In other words, the individual notices something in the environment. People cannot learn much by observation unless they attend to and accurately perceive the relevant aspects of modeled activities (Bandura, 1986).

This process determines what is selectively observed and what information is extracted from the modeled events. 2. Retention processes, transitory experiences are converted for representation into symbolic conceptions that serve as internal models for response production and standards for response correction (Bandura, 1986). In other words, the individual remembers and encodes what was noticed. People cannot learn much by observation unless they have the capacity to remember what was noticed.

3. Production processes, which govern the organization of constituent subskills into new response patterns (Bandura, 1986).In other words, the individuals have the ability to imitate the noticed behavior or events. The ability can be physical or mental.

For instance, when an individual are not able to do a behavior physically, however, he has an ability to persevere with something mentally, he can train himself in order to be able to do the behavior. 4. Motivation processes, which determine whether or not observationally acquired competencies will be put to use (Bandura, 1986).

The consequences of the observed events will affect the probability to emit the behavior.In motivation processes, reinforcement and punishment take an important role because they determine which responses are acquired. The role of reinforcement in observational learning Reinforcement is not necessary for observational learning but plays an important role. Reinforcement is said to create a “generalized imitation tendency” which leads people to imitate a variety of responses, many of which go unrewarded (Bandura, 1986). However, reinforcement (consequences of events) can change the probability to emit the behavior again.Outcome expectations derived from observed or experienced consequences may provide a source of motivation for observation learning (Bandura, 1986).

Reinforcement plays a role in observational learning but mainly as an antecedent rather than a consequent influence. Therefore, observational learning can be improved more effectively by informing observers in advance about the benefits of adopting modeled behavior (Bandura, 1986). Thus, reinforcement can raise the observers’ attentiveness to a model’s behavior. Observational learning usually results in two types of behavior: pro-social behavior and antisocial behavior.

Those behavior can be initiated thorough the process of imitation (Bandura 1986), or thorough the anticipation of future reward (Rotter 1954) Moreover, the theory posits that antisocial behavior, once initiated, will be repeated over time insofar as it is rewarded, and it goes unpunished (Akers 1985, 1998; Burgess and Akers 1966). The application of observational learning Speaking foul language is one of the antisocial behaviors which are acquired through observational learning. In Hong Kong, most of the adolescent often speak foul language which can be learned from parents, friends or TV programmes.According to the social learning approach (Bandura 1986), the models such as parents, the celebrities from TV, should always take aware of their acts and behaviors. Since adolescents may misunderstand the correctness of model’s acts which go unrewarded or unpunished, therefore, they imitate the behavior as an acquired response.

To inhibit this antisocial behavior, the parents should tell them the consequences of speaking foul languages, because they can acquire a pro-social behavior thorough the anticipation of future reward or consequences.How to develop a pro-social behavior within childhood? Observational learning can be improved more effectively by informing observers in advance about the benefits of adopting modeled behavior (Bandura 1986). Therefore, teachers, parents, and the cartoon from TV take an important role for building pro-social behavior. Since TV is most common source where children interest in and spend time on, the cartoon should always promote a positive value and behavior. During watching TV, the parents should guide their children whether the cartoon is suitable.In school, besides teaching knowledge, the teachers should tell them about the definition and consequences of antisocial behaviors and pro-social behaviors.

Conclusion Why does observational learning called as a social learning? It helps shape our personalities and fit ourselves into the society through observation. In our society, however, some of the negative behaviors are being rewarded. Therefore, we have to distinguish what the benefits of those negative behaviors and positive behaviors are, in order to build a positive value in our life.ReferencesAkers, Ronald L.

1985. Deviant behavior: A Social Learning Approach, 3rd ed. Belonont, CA: Wadsworth. Akers, Ronald L. 1998. Social learning and Social Structure: A General Theory of Crime and Deviance. Boston: Northeastern University Press. Bandura, Albert.

1986. Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Burgess, Robert L. , and Ronald L.

Akers. 1966. “A Differential Association * Reinforcement Theory of Criminal Behavior ”Social Problem 14: 128-147 Rotter, Julian.

1954. Social Learning and Clinical Psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall


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