Observational Learning

Observational Learning

The belief that learning can occur from observing other people’s behavior, and the consequences related to the behavior, is one of the most important principles of . Observational learning is an important construct because a vast amount of research has revealed how social modeling can be used to decrease aggression; promote prosocial behavior such as , , , generosity, and sharing; and facilitate the adoption of positive moral attitudes and behavior.

Prior to Albert Bandura’s seminal research on observational learning, which began in the early 1960s, many researchers believed that children could not imitate behavior in the presence of an adult model, nor could they generalize imitative response patterns transferred to novel situations in which the model was absent. Bandura and his colleagues provided counterevidence to these hypotheses and empirically showed that ideas, values, attitudes, skills, and patterns of behaviors are learned by observing models rather than caused by instincts, drives, personality traits, stimulus-response associations, or schedules of reinforcement, or governed by stage conceptions of development.

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