Social Norms Explain social learning theory, making reference to two relevant studies.
Norm Set of rules based on socially or culturally shared beliefs of how an individual ought to behave. Regulate behavior within a group. If a person deviates from a social norm, they may be punished, marginalized, stigmatized, or -more positively- they may be seen as creative and affecting change in the society. The need to belong plays a strong role in the desire to conform to group norms. ? Can you think of examples from your everyday life of different types of norms?
Social Learning Theory • How does a society or culture pass on its norms to individuals within the group? • Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory assumes that humans learn behavior through observational learning. • People can learn by watching models and imitating their behavior.
SLT involves the following: • Bandura says, social learning involves the following factors: • Attention: The person must first pay attention to the model. • Retention: The observer must be able to remember the behavior that has been observed. • Motor reproduction: The observer has to be able to replicate the action. • Motivation: Learners must want to demonstrate what they have learned.
It may look like this graphically: Attention retention Social learning (modeling, Imitation) Motor reproduction Motivation
Motivation to Imitate • Factors which may influence whether or not the observer decides to imitate and learn: • Consistency: If the model behaves in a way that is consistent across situations – for example, always being brave – then the observer will be more likely to imitate than if the model behaves in different ways depending on the situation • Identification with the model: There is a tendency to imitate models who are like ourselves – for example, in terms of age and gender • Rewards/punishment: Bandura argues that people can learn from observing what happens to others; they don’t have to experience the consequences themselves (vicarious reinforcement) • Liking the model: Warm and friendly models are more likely to be imitated than cold, uncaring models.
Yarrow et. al. (1970) study showed that children learn altruistic behavior (helping others for no personal gain) better from people with whom they have already developed a friendly relationship than from people they do not know. Social learning theory has been used to explain many things but particularly the role of violence in the media on aggression in children
Albert Bandura (1925-present) Joined the Dept of Psychology at Stanford U in 1953 He initially suggested social learning theory as a reaction against the passive conception of humans in behaviorism. He pointed at the role of modeling in learning based on his famous experiment with the Bobo doll. Social learning theory, and later social cognitive theory with the important theory of self-efficacy (if we believe in our own ability to perform an action, we are more motivated to do so) changed the direction of psychology. Social cognitive theory sees people as self-reflecting and self-regulating and the theory is now very influential in all areas of psychology.
Bandura’s Research (1961) Two aims: 1. see if children would imitate aggression modeled by an adult. 2. see if children were more likely to imitate same-sex adults. Children aged 3 – 6 years (36 boys and 36 girls) The groups were matched with regard to aggression based on evaluation by their parents and teachers. One group was exposed to adult models who showed aggression by bashing an inflatable “Bobo” doll; a second group observed a non-aggressive adult who assembled toys for 10 minutes; and a third group served as a control and did not see any model. In the first and second groups, some children watched same-sex models and some watched opposite-sex models.
Bandura’s Outcomes After watching the models, children were placed in a room with toys. They were soon taken out of the room and told the toys were for other children. They were put in the room with the Bobo doll Children who had observed the aggressive models were significantly more aggressive – both physically and verbally. According to Bandura the theory of social learning was demonstrated in the study, since the children showed signs of observational learning. With regard to the second aim, Bandura observed that girls were more likely to imitate verbal aggression, whereas boys were more likely to imitate physical aggression.
Interesting facts and other ethics… • When boys witnessed women hitting the bobo doll, they often made comments like, “Ladies shouldn’t do that!” In other words, the children were more likely to imitate the same-sex adult. • The experiment has been criticized for low ecological validity. Not only was it carried out in a laboratory, but there are also other factors which make the situation less than natural. • There is only a brief encounter with the model, and the children are intentionally frustrated after they begin to play with a toy. • This situation does little to predict what happens if a child is repeatedly exposed to aggressive parents or violence on television. • One also has to question the actual aggression that was observed: Does the aggression against a Bobo doll indicate learned aggression in general, or is it highly specific to this situation?
Criticism continued In addition to questionable ecological validity, there are other methodological considerations. The aggression modeled by the adult was not completely standardized, meaning that the children may have observed slight differences in the aggression displayed. In spite of the attempt to match the participants with regard to aggression, it was based on observations from teachers and parents, and this may not have been completely accurate. Finally, there is the question of demand characteristics: the children may have acted aggressively because they thought it would please the researcher.
Application of social learning theory in real life • According to social learning theory: • There is a chance that violence on television will lead to more violent children. • Is this so???? • The results of studies on the effects of televised violence are consistent. • By watching aggression, children learn how to be aggressive in new ways and they also draw conclusions about whether being aggressive to others will bring them rewards or punishment.
Huesmann and Eron (1986) Carried out a longitudinal study, monitoring children’s behavior over a 15-year period. They found a positive correlation between the number of hours of violence watched on television by elementary school children and the level of aggression demonstrated when they were teenagers. Also found that those who watched a lot of television violence when they were 8 years old were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults.
Kimball and Zabrack (1986) • Canadian study, children were found to have become significantly more aggressive two years after television was introduced to their town. • The results of the two studies here indicate a link between watching violent television and aggressive behavior, but we should critically consider the findings: • Could there be another explanation? For example, children who watched violent television may have lived in families which facilitated violent behavior.
Evaluation of social learning theory • Social learning theory helps explain why behaviors may be passed down in a family or within a culture. • It explains why children can acquire some behaviors without trial-and-error learning. • However, it is not always demonstrated • The child may learn something by watching the model, but may not exhibit that behavior for some time. • Some see this as a criticism of the theory.
Difficult to Establish Because this gap exists between when one observes the model and when one may demonstrate the behavior, it is difficult to establish 100% that the behavior is the result of observing the model. Social learning theory also does not explain why some people never learn a behavior, in spite of the above criteria being met.
Self-beliefs Influence Behavior • Social learning theory has developed into social cognitive theory and self-efficacy theory. • Both are based on the social learning theory • The focus is on beliefs and how self-beliefs influence behavior • This is an important elaboration of social learning theory to include how people are motivated not only by role models but also their own beliefs and previous experiences.