Social learning is also known as observational learning, it is a theory that explains how people are influenced by observing other’s behaviors, especially the aggression of children (Bernstein, Penner, Clarke-Stewart, & Roy, 2008). According to Albert Bandura’s social learning theory, children tend to learn from their models or parents who are similar with them, and more significantly from models of the same gender as the child (Kleinma, 2014).
There are three types of models for instance life model who are actual person, verbal model who are described by someone and symbolic model which is character in the book or film. For this reason, children tend to learn aggression from models, that could be characters in their favorite cartoon or their family members as a majority of a child’s time is spent watching television or with their parents or siblings (Ormord, 2012). Moreover, the process of learning can be affected by environment and mental-state. Environmental reinforcement, for instance, the people around the individual or any third party and the punishment.
Besides, internal reinforcement of a child play an important role in order to learn the behavior completely, such as, feeling, pride and satisfaction (Kleinma, 2014). Furthermore, learning a new behavior will not necessarily change a child’s behavior permanently, this is contrary to some behaviorists who argue that in an individual, learning may bring permanent change (Ormord, 2012). However, Social learning theory stated that children must go through four components in order to learn a new behavior successfully, namely attention, retention, reproduction and motivation (Ciccarelli & White, 2014).
The “Bobo” doll experiment as an illustration, which was conducted by Albert Bandura. This is a very interesting experiment that tests the children’s aggression through observing the action of the model towards “bobo” doll (an air-bag clown doll). Experiment is conducted by using a model who carry out aggressive and non-aggressive actions towards the “bobo” doll in two scenarios. These two scenarios are then viewed by two groups of children each. Thereafter the said groups were left in a room with a similar “bobo” doll (Kleinma, 2014).
At the conclusion of the experiment, the children who were exposed with the aggressive behavior imitated the responses towards the “bobo” doll violently whereas the other group which were exposed to non-aggressive group, they ignored the “bobo” doll (Kleinma, 2014). The behaviors are reaffirmed by the four mentioned components whereby, an individual must pay full attention in observing the significant movement and the features of modeled behavior where for example, the children saw that “bobo” doll is being bullied by the model.
Retention is the second component, this is where the information observed earlier is stored into the long-term memory so that individual can recall it as the memory holds an important role for retrieve the information. Subsequently after the retention, the third component is reproducing the behavior where the individual will perform the said behavior after they go through the observation with fully attention and the information that coded in their memory. Behavior has to practice to be perfect, so they have the ability to carry out the model’s behavior.
For instance, children have the capabilities of throwing the doll in the air and hitting it with a hammer (Ciccarelli & White, 2014). Motivation is the last and most important component that decides whether the behavior will be learned or otherwise (Ciccarelli & White, 2014). In a further experiment, videos of a model smacking the “bobo” doll was shown to two groups of children where in the first video, the model was rewarded for the action while in the second video, the model was punished.
When the “bobo” doll was left alone with these children, the group of children who watched the model being rewarded, acted aggressively towards the doll while the other group did not smack the “bobo” doll. However once the children were told that whoever imitated the action from the video would get rewarded, children showed the action aggressively from the video (Kleinma, 2014). Here comes to the key factor, if the individual is rewarded for the new behavior they have learned, they will continue to perform it.
However, the said individual will probably stop to behave that way and feel demotivated when the punishment is carried out on him or her but individuals normally have high expectation to receive a positive reinforcement in their action (Mcleod, 2011). Furthermore, they discovered some issues throughout this experiment where girls respond differently depending on the gender of model. As boys were observed to be more aggressive than girls and they more likely mimicked same-sexed model (Kleinma, 2014). Besides, criminology and televised violence is the main issue of the theory (Isom, 1998).
A case study proved that watching violent television program can lead to increased violent behavior. Adults claimed that TV show that contain violence prompt them to commit crime and children started eye poking with each other after watching the Three Stooges (Werner, 2003, as cited in Bernstein et al. , 2008). In contrast, some psychologists have conflicting opinions to Bandura’s theory, where research proved that children will be less aggressive by watching violence movie. The study compared two groups of juvenile boys where one of the group was exposed to a violent film and the other group is not.
As a result, the group which was exposed to non-violent group is more aggressive than the other group (Isom, 1998). Therefore, Freshbach and Singer (as cited in Isom, 1998) believed that television is not a problem for the children and it actually decreases the amount of aggression instead of increasing it. There are also a lot of controversial surrounding the Bandura theory as some critics said that the “Bobo” doll experiment trained the children to be aggressive and they believed it was an immoral experiment.
Furthermore, biological theorist said that the biological state of the individual had been totally ignored. Everyone has different gene, brain as well as ability of learning, but the theory has rejected it. For instance, when a person did something wrong or witnessed criminal case, he or she might has different responses (Finley, 2007). Beside the critics of Bandura’s experiment, there are some problems from social learning theory according to the analysis performed by behaviorist.
This theory shows that imitative behavior from the point of view of instrumental conditioning in the early stage, one of the problems is new behavior learned by watching others behaved however it is understood that new behaviors originate from exist behaviors which are shaped and changed slowly as time progresses (Kleinma, 2014).
As time goes by psychologists realize that study of behavior cannot stand-alone, thus they introduced a new version of social learning theory, called social cognitive theory which included the human thought processes and feeling that provided clearer picture of behavior learning (Kleinma, 2014). In short, social learning theory from Bandura highlighted that most of the human learn a behavior from observing others, especially aggression. As the result of “Bobo” doll experiment, he believe that aggression is obtained from learning and motivation, but is not inherited from parents. As the social learning theory cannot present well itself, therefore they modified it to social cognitive theory.