Social Learning Theory (SLT) offers one to examine the process of knowledge acquisition as a result of observing and mimicking the behaviors of others. Bandura argues that people learn by observing and imitating others’ actions (Cherry, 2019; MacBlain, 2018; Khadivzadeh et al., 2017). This approach contrasts with the traditional view of learning through motivation to receive rewards and avoid punishment. This paper will examine the application of SLT at home, school, and the workplace.
Bandura supported his theory by conducting an experiment during which children were asked to observe adults’ behaviors. The latter behaved aggressively towards a doll, and after the minors were given the same object, they also began to show aggression towards this toy (Kurt, 2019). Hence, the conclusion of the researcher based on this experiment was that people learn not through cognitive processes but through observations. Notably, the impact of observations is strengthened if a person who watches the behaviors of others believes that they are similar (Deming & Johnson, 2019). In contrast to Bandura’s approach, traditional learning is based on children and adults exerting efforts and having rewards or punishments for their actions. For example, children in schools receive grades when they demonstrate their knowledge in tests or essays, which can be Aa reward or punishment.
In school, this theory can be applied by students mimicking the behaviors of their teachers and other children. Another element of Bandura’s approach is the value of the verbal explanation (Kurt, 2019). According to this element of SLT, if someone receives a verbal description detailing what they have to do and the expected outcomes, their learning is enhanced (Yılmaz, 2019). Hence, in schools, this is applied by providing students with detailed instructions, for example, explaining how to complete homework. Moreover, Marikc et al. (2017) report that a teacher’s personality affects the behaviors of children and their character. Hence, following the SLT, at schools, children learn by imitating the behavior of their teachers, through verbal instructions, and by observing the actions of adults.
At home, children are surrounded by their caregivers, and they learn to behave in their daily life by looking at what their parents and other relatives do. Moreover, apart from direct observation and learning instructions, Badura hypothesized that symbolic learning affects the behaviors of people as well (Kurt, 2019). For example, if a child watches a movie during their free time at home, they can learn something from the character’s behavior and the plot, which they will integrate into their lives.
At a workplace, newly hired employees can mimic the behaviors of their supervisors or people assigned to brief and train new hires. From this perspective, one can explain the concept of company culture, where all employees act in a similar manner and share moral standards, creating a cohesive work environment (Doleck et al., 2021; Horsburgh & Ippolito, 2018). This allows people to become a part of the social group at a workplace and acquire the practical skills they need quickly.
In summary, Bandura’s Social Learning Theory allows one to approach learning as a process of imitating others’ behaviors. The scholar hypothesized that for people, observing and mimicking the actions of others is beneficial because it contributes to their learning. Moreover, children acquire the character traits of their teachers, learn to imitate behaviors of their caregivers and movie characters, and mimic the attitudes of superiors at work.
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