Social Cognitive Theory
Social cognitive theory was introduced formally in 1977 by Albert Bandura and it affects different disciplines such as education, communication and psychology. Social cognitive theory focuses on effects others have on our behavior. This is in the context of experiences, social interactions as well as outside media influences.
What this means is that people don’t learn new behaviors by solely trying them and either failing or succeeding but by humanity survival which is dependent on the replication of actions of others. Depending on whether individuals get punished or rewarded for their behavior and outcome of that behavior, the behavior can be modeled.
Experts differ in their opinion on what separates social cognitive theory from the social learning theory which is more general. From a general standpoint of view though, the following can be used to define the theory:
- People can learn by simply observing others in a process that is known as vicarious learning and not though their personal direct experiences.
- While learning can aid in modifying behavior, people don’t always apply what they learn. individual choice is based on actual or perceived consequences of behavior
- People are likely to follow the behaviors that are modeled by other people they can identify with. The more the perceived commonalities and emotional attachment between the model and the observer, the more likely that the latter will learn from the former.
- Self efficacy degree that a leaner has can directly affect their ability to learn. Self efficacy is an extremely fundamental belief in an individual’s ability to attain a goal. If an individual believes they can learn some new behaviors, it is easy for them to do so.
Social cognitive theory is all about the process of acquisition of knowledge or learning that is directly correlated to observation of models. The models in this case can either be media sources or interpersonal imitation.
Effective modeling also teaches general strategies and rules for handling or dealing with varying situations. The theory also emphasizes a huge difference between the ability of an individual to be morally performing and competent. Moral competencies include:
- What he individual is capable of
- What the individual knows
- What skills the individual has
- The awareness of the individual to moral regulations and rules
- The cognitive ability of the individual to construct behavior.
In regard to the development of an individual, moral competency refers to the growth of these cognitive sensory processes. This means the individual has to be aware of what is deemed as wrong or right. Moral performance by comparison, is influenced by possible incentives and rewards to act in a particular manner. For instance, the moral competence of an individual might tell them that stealing is frowned upon by the society and wrong however, if the substantial sum from that act is high their moral performance will indicate a different thought.
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