The social learning theory by Bandura explains the influence of the environment on an individual’s behavior. It explains how individuals learn to behave and perceive through observations, replicas, and modeling. The four learning processes in this theory are attention, retention, motor production and motivational processes (Groenewald, 2021). In the Mean Girls film, these processes result in negative consequences. The idea is disorganized and focuses solely on the complex interactions between a person’s actions and surroundings.
In the film, Cady and her two pals, Damian and Janis, try to humiliate Regina by making two holes in her top to reveal her bra as she is dressing for a workout session. Despite Cady, Damian, and Janice’s fears that Regina’s casual attitude might upset her, she confidently walked out of the changing room, effectively starting a new trend (Mean Girls, 2004). The students focused on Regina’s actions and qualities that they had previously observed. As a result, they learned to be responsible for their actions based on the implications they were conscious of by seeing others act out their actions.
The Social Learning theory has expanded to focus on the observer’s cognitive actions while digesting the message. In particular, vicarious learning through media forms is inextricably linked to several mental functions, such as attention, retention, motor reproduction, and motivation. For instance, in the film, as Regina’s little sister watched the girl gone wild video, she lifted her shirt to imitate one of the girls in the video. Moreover, Bandura claims that most human behaviors are taught through observation rather than through one’s actions. Cady emulated the ‘Plastics’ to be noticed like her female contemporaries (Mean Girls, 2004). She once skipped a class to please her friends. The social learning theory supports the idea that other adolescent females learn from the behaviors of others, as evidenced by the film Mean Girls. Direct or indirect exposure to immoral behavior has increased the chance of persons engaging in bad behavior. Social learning happens once the four prerequisites are met, as evidenced by all school girls mimicking Regina.
Groenewald, R. (2021). Bandura’s social learning theory explained. Fractus Learning.
Mean Girls (2004) – IMDb. IMDb. (2004).