Social Learning Theory
Social : relating to society: relating to human society and how it is organized, relating to the way in which people in groups behave and interact Learning : acquiring of knowledge: the acquisition of knowledge or skill, knowledge or skill gained through education

SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY The social learning theory is the behavior theory most relevant to criminology. The social learning theory advocates that individuals, especially children, imitate or copy modeled behavior from personally observing others, the environment, and the mass media. Biological theorists argue that the social learning theory completely ignores individuals biological state.

General principles of social learning theory follows: People can learn by observing the behavior is of others and the outcomes of those behaviors. Learning can occur without a change in behavior. Behaviorists say that learning has to be represented by a permanent change in behavior, in contrast social learning theorists say that because people can learn through observation alone, their learning may not necessarily be shown in their performance. Learning may or may not result in a behavior change. Cognition plays a role in learning. Awareness and expectations of future reinforcements or punishments can have a major effect on the behaviors that people exhibit. Social learning theory can be considered a bridge or a transition between behaviorist learning theories and cognitive learning theories.

Learning by Observation

People learn much of what they know simply by observing others. Here a child learns to use a lawnmower by observing his father’s behavior and imitating it with a toy lawnmower.

Behaviors that can be learned through modeling: Many behaviors can be learned, at least partly, through modeling. Examples that can be cited are, students can watch parents read, students can watch the demonstrations of mathematics problems, or seen someone acting bravely and a fearful situation. Aggression can be learned through models. Much research indicate that children become more aggressive when they observed aggressive or violent models. Moral thinking and moral behavior are influenced by observation and modeling. This includes moral judgments regarding right and wrong which can in part, develop through modeling.

Effects of modeling on behavior: Modeling teaches new behaviors. Modeling influences the frequency of previously learned behaviors. Modeling may encourage previously forbidden behaviors. Modeling increases the frequency of similar behaviors.

Self efficacy : People are more likely to engage in certain behaviors when they believe they are capable of executing those behaviors successfully. This means that they will have high self-efficacy. In layman's terms selfefficacy could be looked as self confidence towards learning.

How self-efficacy affects behavior: Joy of activities: individuals typically choose activities they feel they will be successful in doing. Effort and persistence: individuals will tend to put more effort end activities and behaviors they consider to be successful in achieving. Learning and achievement: students with high self-efficacy tend to be better students and achieve more.


Believed that aggression is learned through a process called behavior modeling. He believed that individuals do not actually inherit violent tendencies, but they modeled them after three principles (Bandura, 1976: p.204). Albert Bandura argued that individuals, especially children learn aggressive reponses from observing others, either personally or through the media and environment. According to Bandura’s influential theory of imitation, also called social learning theory, four factors are necessary for a person to learn through observation and then imitate a behavior: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

First, the learner must pay ATTENTION to the crucial details of the model’s behavior. For the example, A young girl watching her father bake a cake will not be able to imitate this behavior successfully unless she pays attention to many important details— ingredients, quantities, oven temperature, baking time, and so on.

The second factor is retention, that’s mean the learner must be able to retain all of this information in memory until it is time to use it. If the person forgets important details, he or she will not be able to successfully imitate the behavior.

Third, the learner must have the physical skills and coordination needed for reproduction of the behavior. According same example, The young girl must have enough strength and dexterity to mix the ingredients, pour the batter, and so on, in order to bake a cake on her own.

Finally, the learner must have the motivation to imitate the model. That is, learners are more likely to imitate a behavior if they expect it to lead to some type of reward or reinforcement. If learners expect that imitating the behavior will not lead to reward or might lead to punishment, they are less likely to imitate the behavior.



Ormrod, J.E. (1999). Human learning (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. http:// http://

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