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Chapter 16 Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory

Learning Objectives After reading Chapter 16, you should be able to: 1. 2. 3. 4. Define and give examples of observational learning. List and define the processes governing observational learning. Define Bandura's concept of triadic reciprocal causation. Explain and give at least one example of the effect that chance enconters and fortuitous events may have on a person's life path. 5. 6. Define and discuss Bandura's concept of human agency. Define and give examples of self-efficacy.

7. 8. 9.

Describe the sources of self-efficacy. Define and give examples of proxy agency. Define and give examples of collective efficacy.

10. Discuss Bandura's concept of self-regulation through moral agency. 11. Discuss ways in which people justify their own actions through disengagement of internal control. 12. Describe Bandura's approach to understanding dysfunctional behavior. 13. Briefly describe some of the recent research generated by Bandura's theory.

Summary Outline 1. Overview of Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory


Bandura's social cognitive theory takes an agentic perspective, meaning that humans have some limited ability to control their lives. In contrast to Skinner, Bandura (1) recognizes that chance encounters and fortuitous events often shape one's behavior; (2) places more emphasis on observational learning; (3) stresses the importance of cognitive factors in learning; (4) suggests that human activity is a function of behavior and person variables, as well as the environment; and (5) believes that reinforcement is mediated by cognition. II. Biography of Albert Bandura Albert Bandura was born in Canada in 1925, but he has spent his entire professional life in the United States. He completed a PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa in 1951 and since then has worked almost entirely at Stanford University, where he continues to be an active researcher and speaker. III. Learning Bandura takes a broad view of learning, believing that people learn through observing others and by attending to the consequences of their own actions. Although he believes that reinforcement aids learning, he contends that people can learn in the absence of reinforcement and even of a response.

A. Observational Learning The heart of observational learning is modeling, which is more than simple imitation, because it involves adding and subtracting from observed behavior. At least three principles influence modeling: (1) people are most likely to model high-status people, (2) people who lack skill or status are most likely to model, and (3) people tend to model behavior that they see as being rewarding to the model. Bandura recognized four processes that govern observational learning: (1) attention, or noticing what a model does; (2) representation, or symbolically representing new response patterns in memory; (3) behavior production, or producing the behavior that one observes; and (4) motivation; that is, the observer must be motivated to perform the observed behavior. B. Enactive Learning All behavior is followed by some consequence, but whether that consequence reinforces the behavior depends on the person's cognitive evaluation of the situation. V. Triadic Reciprocal Causation Social cognitive theory holds that human functioning is molded by the reciprocal interaction of (1) behavior; (2) personal factors,

including cognition; and (3) environmental eventsa model Bandura calls triadic reciprocal causation. A. Differential Contributions Bandura does not suggest that the three factors in the triadic reciprocal causation model make equal contributions to behavior. The relative influence of behavior, environment, and person depends on which factor is strongest at any particular moment. B. Chance Encounters and Fortuitous Events The lives of many people have been fundamentally changed by a chance meeting with another person or by a fortuitous, unexpected event. Chance encounters and fortuitous events enter the triadic reciprocal causation paradigm at the environment point, after which they influence behavior in much the same way as do planned events. VI. Human Agency Bandura believes that human agency is the essence of humanness; that is, humans are defined by their ability to organize, regulate, and enact behaviors that they believe will produce desirable consequences. A. Core Features of Human Agency

Human agency has four core features: (1) intentionality, or a proactive commitment to actions that may bring about desired outcomes: (2) foresight, or the ability to set goals; (3) selfreactiveness, which includes monitoring their progress toward fulfilling their choices; and (4) self-reflectiveness, which allows people can think about and evaluate their motives, values, and life goals. B. Self-Efficacy How people behave in a particular situation depends in part on their self-efficacy, that is, their beliefs that they can or cannot exercise those behaviors necessary to bring about a desired consequence. Efficacy expectations differ from outcome expectations, which refer to people's prediction of the likely consequences of their behavior. Self-efficacy combines with environmental variables, previous behaviors, and other personal variables to predict behavior. It is acquired, enhanced, or decreased by any one or combination of four sources: (1) mastery experiences or performance, (2) social modeling, or observing someone of equal ability succeed or fail at a task; (3) social persuasion or listening to a trusted person's encouraging words; and (4) physical and emotional states, such as anxiety or fear,

which usually lowers self-efficacy. High self-efficacy and a responsive environment are the best predictors of successful outcomes. C. Proxy Agency Bandura also recognizes the influence of proxy agency through which people exercise some partial control over everyday living. Successful living in the 21st century requires people to seek proxies to supply their food, deliver information, provide transportation, etc. Without the use of proxies, modern people would be forced to spend most of their time securing the necessities of survival. D. Collective Efficacy Collective efficacy is the level of confidence that people have that their combined efforts will produce social change. At least four factors can lower collective efficacy. First, events in other parts of the world can leave people with a sense of helplessness; second, complex technology can decrease people's perceptions of control over their environment; third, entrenched bureaucracies discourage people from attempting to bring about social change; and fourth, the size and scope of worldwide problems contribute to people's sense of powerlessness.

VII. Self-Regulation By using reflective thought, humans can manipulate their environments and produce consequences of their actions, giving them some ability to regulate their own behavior. Bandura believes that behavior stems from a reciprocal influence of external and internal factors. A. External Factors in Self-Regulation Two external factors contribute to self-regulation: (1) standards of evaluation, and (2) external reinforcement. External factors affect self-regulation by providing people with standards for evaluating their own behavior. B. Internal Factors in Self-Regulation Internal requirements for self-regulation include: (1) selfobservation of performance; (2) judging or evaluating performance; (3) and self reaction, including self-reinforcement or self-punishment. C. Self-Regulation through Moral Agency Internalized self-sanctions prevent people from violating their own moral standards either through selective activation or disengagement of internal control. Selective activation refers to the notion that self-regulatory influences are not automatic but

operate only if activated. It also means that people react differently in different situations, depending on their evaluation of the situation. Disengagement of internal control means that people are capable of separating themselves from the negative consequences of their behavior. People in ambiguous moral situationswho are uncertain that their behavior is consistent with their own social and moral standards of conductmay separate their conduct from its injurious consequences through four general techniques of disengagement of internal standards or selective activation. The first is redefining behavior, or justifying otherwise reprehensible actions by cognitively restructuring them. People can use redefinition of behavior to disengage themselves from reprehensible conduct by: (1) justifying otherwise culpable behavior on moral grounds; (2) making advantageous comparisons between their behavior and the even more reprehensible behavior of others; (3) using euphemistic labels to change the moral tone of their behavior. Second, people can disengage their behavior from its consequences by displacing or diffusing responsibility. A third set of disengagement procedures involves dehumanizing or blaming the victims. A fourth method is to distort or obscure the relationship between behavior and its injurious consequences.

People can do this by minimizing, disregarding, or distorting the consequences of their behavior. VIII. Dysfunctional Behavior Dysfunction behavior is learned through the mutual interaction of the person (including cognitive and neurophysiological processes), the environment (including interpersonal relations), and behavioral factors (especially previous experiences with reinforcement). A. Depression People who develop depressive reactions often (1) underestimate their successes and overestimate their failures, (2) set personal standards too high, or (3) treat themselves badly for their faults. B. Phobias Phobias are learned by (1) direct contact, (2) inappropriate generalization, and (3) observational experiences. Once learned they are maintained by negative reinforcement, as the person is reinforced for avoiding fear-producing situations. C. Aggression When carried to extreme, aggressive behaviors can become dysfunctional. In a study of children observing live and filmed models being aggressive, Bandura and his associates found that aggression tends to foster more aggression.


Therapy The goal of social cognitive therapy is self-regulation. Bandura noted three levels of treatment: (1) induction of change, (2) generalization of change to other appropriate situations, and (3) maintenance of newly acquired functional behaviors. Social cognitive therapists sometimes use systematic desensitization, a technique aimed at diminishing phobias through relaxation.


Related Research Bandura's concept of self-efficacy has generated a great deal of research demonstrating that people's beliefs are related to their ability to perform in a wide variety of situations, including coping with the threat of terrorism and managing Type 2 diabetes. A. Self-Efficacy and Terrorism Psychologists have always been interested (even before 9/11/01) in both how people are drawn into terrorist culture, and how innocent people cope with the constant threat of terrorism (Ben-Zur & Zeidner, 1995; Moghaddam & Marsella, 2004; Zeidner, 2007). After 2001, this interest in terrorism increased exponentially, and some researchers began to consider how self-efficacy might help people cope with terrorism. People report feeling less personal security following a terrorist attack (Gallup, 2002). An increased

sense of self-efficacy may help to offset this insecurity and negativity. Peter Fischer and colleagues wanted to investigate relationships among self-efficacy, religion, and coping with the threat of terrorism (Fischer, Greitemeyer, Kastenmuller, Jonas, & Frey, 2006). They used Allports Religious Orientation Scale (ROS; see Chapter 13). Previous research had found that using prayer as a coping mechanism is related to an increased feeling of internal control over events (Ai, Peterson, Rodgers, & Tice, 2005), so Fischer and colleagues predicted that intrinsically religious people would experience greater self-efficacy. The results of their study found that the intrinsically religious did report greater feelings of self-efficacy, and better moods due to the increased sense of self-efficacy, but only when the salience of terrorism was high. When salience of terrorism was low, religiosity caused no difference among test subjects. The conclusion is that in the face of a threat, self-efficacy is crucial to decreasing the threats harmful effects. B. Self-Efficacy and Diabetes Bandura himself has written about the usefulness of his theory for encouraging people to engage in healthy behaviors that can increase overall well-being and longevity (Bandura, 1998).

Recently, William Sacco and colleagues (2007) studied selfefficacy related to diabetes. Since depression is twice as prevalent in diabetics as in the general population (Anderson, Freeland, Clouse, & Lustman, 2001), and a hallmark of depression is lack of motivation, the strict adherence to diet and exercise plans required of Type 2 diabetes management is especially problematic. Sacco and his colleagues (2007) thus wanted to explore the role of selfefficacy in raising adherence to disease management plans, and in lowering negative physical and mental health symptoms. The results clearly showed that self-efficacy is important to managing chronic disease: Higher levels of self-efficacy were related to lower levels of depression, lower BMI, lower incidence and severity of diabetes symptoms, and higher levels of adherence to doctors orders. BMI was positively correlated with depression, and adhering to doctors orders was negatively correlated with depression. Self-efficacy was directly responsible for the relationships of depression to both BMI and adherence. Of the many parts of social-cognitive theory that have influenced psychological research, these studies on terrorism and diabetes show the far-reaching implications of the construct of self-efficacy.


Banduras theory continues to generate an impressive amount of research. XI Critique of Bandura Bandura's theory receives the highest marks of any in the text largely because it was constructed through a careful balance of innovative speculation and data from rigorous research. In summary, the theory rates very high on its ability to generate research and on its internal consistency. In addition, it rates high on parsimony and on its ability to be falsified, organize knowledge, and guide the practitioner. XII. Concept of Humanity Bandura sees humans as being relatively fluid and flexible. People can store past experiences and then use this information to chart future actions. Bandura's theory rates near the middle on teleology versus causality and high on free choice, optimism, conscious influences, and uniqueness. As a social cognitive theory, it rates very high on social determinants of personality.

Test Items


Fill-in-the-Blanks 1. Bandura's _______________________ reciprocal causation determinism model assumes that personality is shaped by an interaction of person, behavior, and environment. 2. A ___________________ encounter is an unintended meeting of persons unfamiliar to each other. 3. A ____________________ event is an environmental experience that is unexpected and unintended. 4. If behavior were completely a function of the _________________, Bandura believes that it would be much more varied and less consistent. 5. 6. The core of observational learning is ________________________. Adolescents are most likely to model __________________ people.



The first process governing observational learning is _____________________.


Bandura believes that ___________________ factors, such as memory and foresight, give some unity to personality.


Self-____________________ refers to our beliefs about our capabilities to exercise control over events that affect our lives.

10. Those expectations that refer to the likely consequences of our behavior are called __________________ expectations. 11. Ordinarily, _____________________, or mastery, provides the strongest source of self-efficacy. 12. Self-efficacy is increased when we observe people of _____________________ ability performing an activity. 13. Social _________________________ increases self-efficacy when a trusted individual convinces us that we have the ability to perform an activity.

14. High efficacy and a responsive _______________________ are the best predictors of a successful outcome. 15. With __________________ agency, we rely on the work of other people to control those social conditions that affect everyday living. 16. __________________ efficacy is the level of confidence people have that their combined efforts will produce social change. 17. _________________________ of internal control is used to justify to oneself a behavior that would normally be morally unacceptable. 18. One form of disengagement is to blame the __________________. 19. When a terrorist blows up a government building, kills many adults and children, and refers to the deaths of the children as "collateral damage," he is using ____________________ labeling to disengage himself from the moral consequences of his actions. True-False

_____1. Bandura's social cognitive theory assumes that people have the capability to exercise some control over their lives. _____2. Compared with Skinner, Bandura has developed a much more cognitive theory. _____3. Bandura believes that chance plays a role in people's environment and behavior. _____4. Basic to Bandura's social cognitive theory is the assumption that consistency of behavior is the outstanding characteristic of humans. _____5. Compared to Skinner, Bandura places more emphasis on observational learning. _____6. Bandura's triadic reciprocal causation notion assumes that behavior is the product of two variablesheredity and environment.


_____7. Most of our chance encounters have a significant and permanent impact on our personality. _____8. Bandura believes that personality is mostly the product of heredity. ____9. In Bandura's triadic reciprocal causation hypothesis, all three factors typically make equal or nearly equal contributions to action. ____10. Chance encounters and fortuitous events enter the triadic reciprocal causation model at the point of behavior. ____11. The self-system makes personality extremely consistent and resistant to change. ____12. Bandura believes that all human behavior is ultimately the product of an aggressive drive.


____13. People's belief that they can or cannot execute those behaviors necessary to produce desired outcomes is Bandura's definition of disengagement. ____14. It is possible to have high efficacy and yet have low confidence that one's actions will produce the desired results. ____15. Ordinarily, the strongest source of self-efficacy is mastery experiences. ____l6. The type of efficacy that involves indirect control over the social conditions that affect a person's life is called selfefficacy. ____17. Bandura believes that collective efficacy is inherited from one's ancestors. ____18. Bandura believes that although reinforcement facilitates learning, it is not a necessary condition for learning.


____19. Bandura suggests that responses need not occur in order to be learned. ____20. High levels of anxiety generally increase self-efficacy.

Multiple Choice ______1. Bandura believes that human functioning is a product of the mutual interaction of environment, person, and a. heredity. b. learning. c. cognition. d. behavior. ______2. Bandura's social cognitive theory takes _____ perspective. a. a behavioral b. a learning theory c. an existential d. an agentic


______3. Bandura first became interested in clinical psychology when he a. entered graduate school at Stanford University. b. worked on the Alaska highway after graduation from high school. c. met Skinner at the 1972 APA convention. d. entered graduate school at the University of Iowa. _____4. Bandura believes that learning a. can occur in the absence of a response. b. is facilitated by the unconscious mind. c. and performance are identical. d. is not facilitated by reinforcement. _____5. According to Bandura, there are two major types of learning observational and a. modeling. b. instinctive. c. developmental. d. enactive. e. conditioning.

____6.Modeling is enhanced when the person being modeled is a. a low-status person. b. attractive. c. speaking a foreign language. d. a social isolate. e. a child. _____7. According to Bandura, reinforcement a. is necessary for learning. b. is cognitively mediated. c. is environmentally determined. d. has extrinsic value. ______8. According to Bandura, the essence of humanness is a. human agency. b. imitation c. aggression. d. memory. ______9. The primary component of Bandura's P factor is

a. cognition. b. probability. c. performance. d. environment. ______10. Chance encounters enter the triadic reciprocal causation paradigm at this point. a. environment b. behavior c. person d. any or all of these _____11. According to Bandura, if behavior were completely controlled by the environment, it would be a. solely the result of chance. b. less consistent and more varied. c. rigid and stilted. d. solely the result of imitation.


_____12. People's expectations that they are capable of performing a behavior that will produce desired outcomes in any particular situation is called a. outcome expectancy b. self-efficacy c. distortion of consequences d. the self-system _____13. Which technique is LEAST likely to increase a person's selfefficacy? a. verbal persuasion b. increased emotional arousal c. vicarious experiences d. performance accomplishments _____14. Carlos has great confidence in himself as a hairdresser. However, the economy in his city has recently turned downward, and few people can afford a hairdresser. When Carlos applies for a job at Mr. Dan's Hair Salon, he will likely have high _______ and low _______. a. self-efficacy; outcome expectations

b. self-efficacy; self-confidence c. reward expectancy; self-efficacy d. anxiety; motivation _____15. Which of these is MOST likely to increase self-efficacy? a. verbal persuasion b. increased emotional arousal c. decreased emotional arousal d. performance accomplishments _____16. Low self-efficacy and an unresponsive environment are MOST likely to result in a. a high level of performance. b. apathy and feelings of helplessness. c. decreased locus of control. d. increased optimism and self-confidence. _____17. The personal efficacy of many people working together to bring about social change is called a. collective efficacy. b. disengagement of internal control.

c. disengagement of external control. d. outcome expectations. ______18. Taylor, like most people, relies on auto mechanics, air conditioning repairmen, network news, and hundreds of other people who enhance her lifestyle. In so doing, Taylor is making use of a. collective efficacy. b. proxy efficacy. c. self-efficacy. d. self-regulation. ______19. A set of cognitive structures used to evaluate behavior describes Bandura's concept of a. observational learning. b. modeling. c. the self system. d. the ego. e. the superego.


______20. According to Bandura, the first requirement for selfregulation is a. self-observation. b. modeling. c. a responsive environment. d. motor production. e. reinforcement. _____21. Which of the following would be an example of disengagement of internal control? a. A student skips class, and then tells the instructor that she had to attend her grandmother's funeral. b. A child is punished for playing with his genitals and consequently represses the experience. c. A conscientious doctor performs an illegal operation, but justifies her actions to herself by saying the surgery was necessary to save a life. d. A store clerk shoplifts merchandise, feels guilty, and returns it before anyone notices. _____22. Bandura believes that personal conduct is controlled by

a. an autonomous internal agent called the ego. b. environmental stimuli. c. reinforcement. d. the triadic reciprocal causation paradigm. _____23. The study by Bandura, Ross, and Ross involving young children and a Bobo doll found that a. children exposed to an aggressive cartoon character were more aggressive than children not subjected to an aggressive model. b. children exposed to an aggressive live model were more aggressive than children not subjected to an aggressive live model. c. both of these was true. d. neither of these was true. ______24. The ultimate goal of social-cognitive therapy is a. self-regulation. b. self-actualization. c. an increase in self-efficacy. d. uncovering hidden conflicts.

______25. Which statement is most consistent with Bandura's concept of humanity? a. People are most strongly motivated to increase self-efficacy. b. Human personality is formed mostly by the forces of biology. c. People must successfully navigate the stages of development in order to become psychologically healthy. d. Humans have the capacity to become many things, within the limits set by biology.

Short Answer 1. List three differences between Skinner's and Bandura's theories.


2. Discuss the processes governing observational learning.

3. Explain the differences between efficacy expectations and outcome expectations.


4. Name four sources of self-efficacy.

5. Explain Bandura's concept of collective efficacy and give four examples.


6. Name and explain four ways a person can justify reprehensible behavior.