Evaluation of the Social Learning Theory


Evaluation of the Social Learning Theory


  • Classical conditioning and operant cannot offer a comprehensive account of human learning on their own because cognitive factors are omitted
  • Humans and animals store information about the behaviour of others and use this to make judgments about when it is appropriate to perform certain actions
  • SLT provides a more complete explanation of human learning than the behaviourist approach by recognising the role of meditational processes
  • Social learning principles can account for how children learn from other people around them, as well as through the media which can offer some explanation as to how 'social norms' are transmitted
  • This has proved useful in understanding a range of behaviours such as how children come to understand their gender role by imitating role models that they identify with
  • Bandura emphasised reciprocal determinism - we are influenced by our environment, but we also exert an influence upon it through the behaviours that we choose to perform
  • This element of choice suggests there is an element of free will in the way we behave
  • This is a more realistic and flexible position than is suggested by the behaviourist approach as it recognises the role we play in shaping our own environment


  • Many of Bandura's ideas were developed through children behaviour in lab settings and this increases the problem of demand characteristics
  • The main purpose of a Bobo doll is to hit it so the children in his study may have been behaving as they though was expected
  • A consistent finding in the Bobo doll experiments is that boys show more aggression than girls regardless of the experimental condition
  • This may be explained by differences in the levels of testosterone which boys have more of and it is linked to aggression
  • This means that Bandura may have underestimated the important influence of biological factors on social learning


Media attempts to change health related behaviours have shown that models similar to the target audience are more likely to bring about identification and greater social learning. Greater identification is then expected to influence modelling behaviour. Andsager(2006) found that perceived similarity to a model in an anti-alcohol advertisement was positively related to the ad's effectiveness.


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