Bandura- Albert Bandura is a cognitive psychologist whose work in Observational Learning Research has held him in high regard as one of the greatest living psychologists. His research states that behaviour is learned from the environment through the process of copying the actions of role models. Going as far back as the first months of a child’s life they try to mimic the facial expressions and mouth movements they witness such as smiling. As we continue to grow and become more observant humans continue to learn through observation for example, a child watches a group of children play a game of hopscotch. Wanting to join in but having never played before the child watches the other children play them game and from their observation they learn the rules and join in. Even as an adult we learn new skills through observation such as watching someone change a tyre on a car.
Bandura’s research into the theory of Social Learning and Observational Learning explores numerous factors that will increase the likelihood that behaviours will be imitated such as we are more likely to imitate people who are perceived as warm and nurturing or even our peers. We may imitate others when we lack confidence in our own knowledge or abilities or imitate those who are in an authoritative position in our lives.
Bandura’s most famous experiment based on the theory is the Bobo Doll experiment. At the beginning of the experiment young children were shown a film clip of an adult punching the large inflatable Bobo Doll and soon after the children were allowed into a play room where the same doll could be found. The experiment showed that young children would imitate the violent actions of the adult on the video as they did not see the adult face consequences for their actions.
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