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Albert Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory

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  1. Albert Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory Cheryl Beeler Robin Keller Dawn Norris Jody Roberson (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.)

  2. Early Life of Albert Bandura • Born on December 4, 1925 in a small town called Mundare in northern Alberta, Canada (50 miles east of Edmonton). • He was the youngest and only boy of six children. (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.) (Albert Bandura, Francis Marion University, n.d.)

  3. Early Life of Albert Bandura (cont.) • Both of his parents were of Eastern European descent, and his father and mother emigrated to Canada when they were adolescents. • Albert Bandura’s father was from Krakow, Poland and had no formal education, but he placed a high value on attaining an education. He taught himself three languages, including Polish, Russian, and German. • Albert Bandura’s mother was from the Ukraine. She did not have any formal education. (Boeree, 1998)

  4. Early Education-Elementary School • Bandura was educated from elementary school through high school in the one and only school house in town. • The school had a shortage of supplies and teachers, and most of the learning was left to the students’ initiative. (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.) (Boeree, 1998)

  5. Early Education-High School • Bandura’s entire high school math curriculum came from one textbook. As a prank, the students in the class stole the textbook, and the teacher had to plead and bargain with the students on homework assignments in order to get it back. • The entire class that graduated with Bandura ended up going onto universities around the world. (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.) (Boeree, 1998)

  6. Summer Work after High School • During the summer after Bandura completed high school, he worked in the far north at a place called Whitehorse in the Yukon. • At this job, he filled holes to protect the Alaskan Highway from sinking into the muskeg. • He met many interesting people that summer, including people who were running from creditors, alimony, the draft, and probation officers. • He “developed an appreciation for the psychopaths of everyday life.” (Boeree, 1998)

  7. Decision to Major in Psychology • Bandura attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for his undergraduate degree. • He had intentions of majoring in one of the biological sciences, but instead, he decided to major in psychology due to reasons of chance. • He commuted to the university every day with engineering and pre-med students who had to arrive to campus early. (Boeree, 1998)

  8. Decision to Major in Psychology (cont.) • There was an introductory course in psychology that was offered at an early time on the campus and would fulfill the requirement, so he enrolled in it. • Bandura graduated in 1949 from the University of British Columbia. It took him three years to graduate. (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.) (Boeree, 1998)

  9. The Sport of Golf • Bandura went on to get his master’s degree at the University of Iowa. • During his leisure time, he would play golf with friends. • One Sunday afternoon, he and a friend arrived at the golf course late and were moved to a later starting time. There were two women ahead of them, and the women seemed to be golfing slowly while the men were golfing quickly. (Boeree, 1998)

  10. The Sport of Golf (cont.) • Bandura, his friend, and the two women encountered each other in a sandtrap. • That woman, Virginia Varns, who was a teacher at the College of Nursing, became Bandura’s wife. • The two married in 1952 and had two daughters Mary (in 1954) and Carol (in 1958) (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.) (Boeree, 1998)

  11. University Education • 1949:Bandura received his B.A. degree from the University of British Columbia (Isom, 1998) • 1951:M.A. received from the University of Iowa (Albert Bandura, n.d., Minot State University) • 1952:Ph.D. received from University of Iowaunder the direction of Arthur Benton (who was heavily influenced by William James). (Isom, 1998)

  12. Educational Interests • While studying at Iowa, Bandura’s interest in childhood aggression began • Idea of social learning theory established while pursuing Ph.D. at University of Iowa (Isom, 1998)

  13. Honors, Awards, and Achievements • Bandura has received several honorary degrees from universities all over the world. (Moore, n.d.) • 1972: • Recipient of a distinguished achievement award from the American Psychological Association (Isom, 1998) • Recipient of a Scientist Award from the California State Psychological Association (Isom, 1998) • 1974:Bandura was elected the president of the American Psychological Association (Isom, 1998).

  14. Honors, Awards, and Achievements (cont.) • 1977:Bandura became known as the Father of the Cognitive Theory. • 1980:Elected the president of the Western Psychological Association. • 1988:Thorndike Award for Distinguished Contributions of Psychology to Education from the American Psychological Association. (Isom, 1998)

  15. Employment • 1953:Position accepted at the University of Stanford (Isom, 1998) • 1964- Present:Full professor position given to Bandura at Stanford (Albert Bandura, Minot State University, n.d.) • 1989:Employed at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (Isom, 1998)

  16. Interests • While employed at Stanford, Bandura met the renowned psychologist Robert Sears who was exploring the familial antecedents of social behavior and learning and aggression in collaboration with Richard Walters. • This research led to a program of laboratory research into observational learning. This led Bandura to write his first book, entitled Adolescent Aggression. (Albert Bandura, Minot State University, n.d.)

  17. Social Cognitive Theory • Bandura does not consider himself a Social Learning Theorist, but prefers Social Cognitive Theory • Comprehensive theory that includes motivational and self regulatory mechanisms • Emphasizes the social origins of human thought process and behavior • Emphasizes cognitive influence on behavior, rather than conditioning influences from the environment (Boeree, 1998)

  18. Bandura’s Theory • Human beings have specific abilities related to learning that sets them apart from other species. • Social cognitive theory states that there are three characteristics that are unique to humans: • Vicarious consequences (Model and imitate others) • Self–efficacy (self reflection) • Performance standards and moral conduct (Ability to regulate one’s own behavior) (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.) (Isom, 1998)

  19. Bandura’s Theory (cont) • Bandura believed that a person’s level of motivation is an affective state and actions are based more on what they believe. Bandura believed that motives included: • past reinforcement or more traditional behaviorism • the promise of reinforcement or incentives • and also vicarious reinforcement or modeling. • These beliefs define what is learned. • According to Bandura, in order to learn, one must • pay attention • be able to retain or remember • have the ability to reproduce the behavior. (Albert Bandura, Francis Marion University, n.d.)

  20. The Bobo Doll Study • Albert Bandura’s Bobo doll study in 1961 was a classic study that demonstrates the social learning theory. The study showed that after viewing adults strike and kick a Bobo doll, children would imitate the behavior in another environment. This was important, as it suggests that the violence could be imitated by viewers. • Results showed 88% of the children imitated aggressive behavior following the viewing of the tape of adults acting aggressively toward the doll. • 8 months later 40% of the same children reproduced the violent behavior observed in the Bobo doll experiment. (Peebles, 2003)

  21. The Bobo Doll Study (cont.) • The children were shown three different endings to the video. The video first showed that the adults were praised for their aggressive behavior. The second group the adult was told to sit in a corner. The third group showed the adult walk out of the room. While controversial, Bandura maintained that his experiment demonstrated that children are influenced by witnessing or modeling of aggression in others. (Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch, n.d.)

  22. Motivations • Albert Bandura stated that a book called Social Learning and Imitation by Dollard and Miller was one of the contributions to the development of his modeling theory. Bandura was intrigued by their work on the assumption that human development requires a much more powerful mode of transmitting competencies than does trial and error. (Isom, 1998)

  23. Beliefs • Bandura believed that psychological research should be conducted in a laboratory to control factors that determined behavior. (Isom, 1998)

  24. Beliefs (cont.) • Albert Bandura believed that aggression reinforced by family members was the most prominent source of behavior modeling. He reports that children use the same aggressive tactics that their parents illustrate when dealing with others. In order to control aggression, Bandura stated that the problem should be diagnosed and treated during one’s childhood. Children learn to act aggressive when they model their behavior after violent acts of adults, especially family members. (Isom, 1998)

  25. Beliefs (cont.) • There are four component processes influenced by the observer’s behavior following exposure to models. These components include: attention; retention; motor reproduction; and motivation. • He believes that people acquire behaviors through the observation of others, then imitate what they have observed. Several studies involving television commercials and videos containing violent scenes have supported this theory of modeling. • Albert Bandura believed television was a source of behavior modeling. (Isom, 1998)

  26. Publications • 1959: Bandura wrote his first book in collaboration with Richard Walters called Adolescent Aggression (Isom, 1998). • 1969:Published Principles of Behavior Modification (Moore, n.d.) • 1973:Bandura wrote Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis (Isom, 1998). • 1977:Bandura published a book called Social Learning Theory (Isom, 1998).

  27. Publications (cont.) • 1978:Bandura Published Psychological Modeling: Theory and Practice (Moore, n.d.). • This book changed the direction of psychology for the upcoming 1980s. To this point, psychologists had focused almost exclusively on learning through the consequences of one’s actions, until the revelation of Bandura’s book (Albert Bandura, Minot State University, n.d.). • He furthered showed that, in addition to cultivating new competencies, modeling influences alter motivation by instilling behavioral outcome expectations, and create value systems through emotional expressions of others toward given persons, places or things (Albert Bandura, Minot State University, n.d.).

  28. Publications (cont.) • 1986:Bandura wrote Social Foundations of Thought and Action, which provides a framework of his social cognitive theory (Moore, n.d). • Bandura’s contribution of books are considered to be the most relevant psychological research in determining aggression and deviance (Isom, 1998).

  29. References Albert Bandura. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2003 from the Francis Marion University website: Albert Bandura. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2003 from the Minot State University website: Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2003 from the Emory University website:

  30. References (cont.) Boeree, C. G. (1998). Personality Theories: Albert Bandura. Retrieved September 12, 2003 from the Shippenberg University of Pennsylvania website: Isom, M. D. (1998, November 30). The Social Learning Theory. Retrieved September 18, 2003 from the Florida State University, Department of Criminology website:

  31. References (cont.) Moore, A. (n.d.). Albert Bandura. Retrieved September 18, 2003 from the Muskingum College website: Peebles, V.R. (2003, March 28). Social Learning Theory Presentation. Retrieved October 6, 2003 from the University of Toronto at Mississauga website: