Observational Learning “We are, in truth, more than half what we are by imitation.” – Lord Chesterfield “Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do.” – Albert Bandura Higher level animals do not need to learn through direct experience, they can learn indirectly from observing and imitating others.
Observational Learning • Learning by observing and watching others (the model) • The Model - the person whose behavior the subject watches and imitates • Modeling - The process of observing and imitating a specific behavior • See an example of my daughter copying her mom feeding the baby. Click HERE.
Mirror Neurons • Mirror neurons in the frontal lobe by the motor cortex fire when an animal observes another performing a task and when the animal actually performs the task. • When watching a human eat ice cream, the same areas in the monkey’s brain for the movements it was seeing were activated as if it was doing the actions in its head. • Theory of the Mind – A child can “share” another’s experience and empathize what they see
Imitation is Natural • Imitation seems innate – newborns will copy facial expressions of adults. • Children 2-5 years old will overimitate doing useless behaviors they see an adult do • Seeing an adult stroke a jar with a feather before grabbing it, the child will too. • Memes - ideas, fashions and habits (cultural elements) passed on by imitation. Example: Catch-phrases, ceremonies, foods, traditions, vices, and fads all spread by copying one another.
Albert Bandura (1925- ) • Studies observational learning and the consequences a model has on subjects • Bobo Doll experiments • Children watched an adult model show aggressive behavior toward a Bobo doll • Three experimental conditions: • The model was praised. • The model was punished. • The model received no consequences for the aggressive behavior.
Bandura’s Bobo Dolls • Watch this 5 minute clip from The Brain: A Secret Historyto see the experiment and an explanation • Watch“Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment” Video #11 from Worth’s Digital Media Archive for Psychology.
Vicarious Learning • Learning by seeing the consequence of another’s behavior • Vicarious Reinforcement or Punishment • Bandura said that reinforcement is not essential for learning to occur but the expectation of reinforcement affects the performance of what has been learned.
Modeling Requirements • Bandura said 4 cognitive processes are used in observational learning • Must pay attention to the other person’s behavior. • Must remember the other person’s behavior. • Must transform the memory into actions that you are capable of reproducing. • Must have some motivation for you to imitate behavior.
Antisocial/Prosocial Behavior • Antisocial behavior - negative, destructive, abusive, unhelpful behavior • Prosocial behavior – positive, constructive, helpful behavior (Liberty Mutual Ins. Commercial) • Both types of behavior can be modeled effectively. • How might TV programs effect the way we behave? (see pg. 309 in Myers)
Famous last words??? Do what I say, not what I do. This will teach you to hit your brother! Why do you do that, you know you get in trouble for it? Studies show that when this happens, children will say the right thing but do the wrong thing when you’re not around.