Albert bandura s observational learning theory and imitation
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Albert Bandura’s Observational Learning Theory and Imitation. By: Lianna Dehan and Trudy Marchica. Bandura’s Biography. Born December 4, 1925 in Mundare which is a small town in northern Alberta, Canada Received his bachelor degree in psychology at University of British Columbia.

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Albert Bandura’s Observational Learning Theory and Imitation

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Albert bandura s observational learning theory and imitation

Albert Bandura’s Observational Learning Theory and Imitation

By: Lianna Dehan and Trudy Marchica

Bandura s biography

Bandura’s Biography

  • Born December 4, 1925 in Mundare which is a small town in northern Alberta, Canada

  • Received his bachelor degree in psychology at University of British Columbia.

  • Continued his schooling at University of Iowa and received his PHD in 1952.

  • It was at the University of Iowa where he became familiar with behaviorist tradition and learning theory.

  • In 1953, he wrote his first book along side of Richard Walters called Adolescent Aggression.

  • He was the President of American Psychological Association

  • In 1980 he received the APA award for distinguished scientific contributions.

  • He presently works at Stanford University

Observational learning theory

Observational Learning Theory

  • Bandura claimed that “in social situations, people often learn much more rapidly simply by observing the behaviors of others”

  • Bandura found that there are four components of observational learning:

    • Attentional Processes

    • Retention Processes

    • Motor Reproduction Processes

    • Reinforcement and Motivational Processes

Attentional processes

Attentional Processes

  • One cannot imitate a model without paying attention to the model.

  • A model is often attractive because of the qualities he or she posses. These qualities such as prestige, power, and success gain the attention of the observer and begin the process of observational learning.

Retention processes

Retention Processes

  • Retention process is the way one remembers the model’s actions so he can imitate them.

  • Bandura explains, “In order to reproduce social behavior when the model is no longer present to serve as a guide, the response patterns must be represented in memory in symbolic form.

  • Example: mentally rehearsing the actions or practicing the actions will help one remember what he learned.

Motor reproduction processes

Motor Reproduction Processes

  • This is when a person uses the proper motor skills to accurately reproduce their model.

  • A five year old can observe his parent operate a car, but this does not mean he has the ability to correctly drive an automobile

Reinforcement and motivational processes

Reinforcement and Motivational Processes

  • This process refers to the idea that a child will be more likely to imitate a behavior if he is likely to gain a reward

  • “When positive incentives are introduced, observational learning that previously remained unexpressed is likely to emerge in action.”

Bobo doll experiment

Bobo Doll Experiment



  • Children are prone to imitate models that are more intelligent, skillful, and knowledgeable than themselves and others around them.

  • Children have a broad range of influences- parents, teachers, peers, and older siblings.

  • When a child has the choice, he is likely to select models with similar attributes and ignore those that have little in common with.

  • There are two types of models:

    • Symbolic

    • Exemplary

Symbolic models

Symbolic Models

  • Models presented through oral or written instructions, pictorially, or through a combination of verbal and pictorial devices.

  • The media is a good example of pictorially presented models.

    • television

    • movies

    • radio

Exemplary models

Exemplary models

  • Can be pictorial models or represented through verbal descriptions.

  • A child is given an example whether it be a superhero, next door neighbor, or a friend and are told that these models actions are good and should be imitated, or in some cases, bad and should be avoided.

Three effects of the observation of models

Three Effects of the Observation of Models

1. Observer may acquire new responses that were not in his repertory.

2. If model’s actions already exist in observer’s repertory, observation may strengthen or weaken inhibitory responses.

3. Sometimes observation of models draws out already known responses in observer



  • Imitation is the actual performance of behavior that has been observed.

Our hypothesis states

Our hypothesis states:

  • the younger children will be more likely to imitate their tutors than the older children.

  • The girls will be more likely than the boys to answer the questions exactly like their tutor.

  • A child will be more likely to copy their tutor if they are the same sex.

  • If there are harder questions that the children might not know the answers to, they will be more prone to imitating their tutor

  • Because the children have bonded with their tutors, they will imitate their own tutor over another college student.

Procedure for the questionnaires

Procedure for the Questionnaires

  • The questionnaires were handed out on two separate days but the procedure was the same for both days

  • While the kids were working with their tutors, we went to each tutor and told them that they were to answer the questions on the sheet of paper first aloud, then write down their answer on the blank assigned to the tutor. Then they were instructed to read the same question to their student, and write down their answer. Each tutor was handed a piece of paper with the questions listed

Data for questionnaire 1

Data for Questionnaire 1:

Data for questionnaire 2

Data for Questionnaire 2:

Weak points of experiment

Weak points of Experiment

  • The amount of children that come to tutoring weekly fluctuates, which gave us less data than expected

  • Instead of using questionnaires, we should have used a full month to conduct a more complete experiment using actions of models as the focal point, rather than questions on a sheet of paper.

  • More appealing experiment that would be less obvious that we conducting an experiment.

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