Social Learning Theories
The most prominent name under the social learning bandwagon is Albert Bandura. He suggested that people acquire a certain set of behaviours through observation and imitation. He used the term modelling to refer to people’s tendency to observe and imitate behaviours of other people. He emphasized that learning and acquiring behaviours operate in a social context. Bandura also popularized the concept on self-efficacy defined as “the belief that one is capable of performing the behaviours required to producing a desired outcome”. A person’s self-efficacy corresponds to his or her competencies. A person may also have a different self-efficacy in some situations and a different self-efficacy in others. Bandura also further explained that self-efficacy is gained through a person’s past experiences either at success or failures, a person’s observation of other persons, encouraging words received from significant persons, feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Julian Rotter, another disciple of the social learning approach, also suggested that human behaviour is influenced by two factors: the expectancy that a certain action will be reinforced and the value of that reinforcement to the person. Rotter also coined the term “locus of control”, referring to the “expectancy that one’s reinforcements are generally controlled by internal or external factors”. Those who have internal locus of control attribute their reinforcements to personal will, determination, characteristics or abilities. They believe they control everything that will happen to them. On the other hand, persons who have external locus of control attribute their reinforcements to luck, destiny, karma, or to other powerful persons. Rotter also emphasized the possibility of practicing internal locus of control in some situations and external in others. Another possibility that he also stressed out is the difference in persons’ perceptions of control.
Based on that proposition by Rotter, another branch of theory was introduced by Walter Mischel, the cognitive social-learning theory. Mischel suggested that there are five “person variables” necessary to understand the interaction between individuals and social environment. These variables are as follows: competencies, encoding strategies, expectancies, subjective values, and self-regulatory systems. Mischel also further emphasized the importance of self-regulation.