Approaches to Individual Learning & Behaviour

Social learning theory

The social learning theory also called observational learning, stresses the ability of an” individual to learn by observing what happens to other people and just by being told about something.

One can learn things by observing models, parents, teachers, peers, motion pictures, TV artists, bosses, and others.

Many patterns of behavior are learned by watching the behaviors of others and observing its consequences for them. In this theory, it is said that the influence of models is the central issue.

4 processes have been found to determine the influence that a model will have on an individual.

These processes are:

  1. Attention process

 People learn from a model only when they recognize and pay attention to its critical features.

If the learner is not attentive they would not able to learn anything. We tend to be most influenced by attractive models, repeatedly available, which we think is important, or we see as similar to us.

2. Retention process

 A model’s influence depends on how well the individuals remember the models’ actions after the model is no longer readily available.

3. Motor reproduction process

 After a person has seen a new behavior by observing the model, the watching must be converted to doing. It involves recall the model’s behaviors and performing own actions and matching them with those of the model.

This process then demonstrates that the individual can perform the modeled activities.

4. Reinforcement process

 Individuals are motivated to exhibit the modeled behavior if positive incentives or rewards are provided. Behavior that is positively reinforced is given more attention, learned better and performed more often.

At last, we can say that social learning theory is a function of consequences. It also acknowledges the existence of observational learning and the importance of perception in learning.

In this case, a person who wants to learn should identify the target behavior and select the appropriate model and modeling medium. Then he/she should create a favorable learning environment and observe the model.

Here the learners will try to remember and use practically the observed behavior if there is a positive reinforcement is related to this behavior.


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Organizational Behavior by Icfai Business School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.