Chapter Guiding Questions What is observational learning? How is observational learning different from imitation? What determines whether a model’s behavior will be imitated? What factors influence how much we learn from models? What theories attempt to account for observational learning? Are there any applications of observational learning?
What is observational learning? A change in behavior due to the experience of observing a model Learning vicariously through the reinforcement and punishment of a model Two basic procedures:
Examples of Vicarious Reinforcement Observing a model’s behavior being reinforced
Examples of Vicarious Punishment Observing a model’s behavior being punished
An Overview of Classic Experiments Warden and colleagues’ experiments Experiment with monkeys and raisins 47% of observer monkeys solved the problem in 10 seconds 75% of observer monkeys solved the problems in 30 seconds Even monkeys who did not solve the problem indicated that they had learned something about it through their actions Herbert & Harsh’s (1944) experiment with cats Cats who observed a model cat turning a wheel to obtain food learned to perform the same task in considerably fewer trials
Bandura & McDonald’s (1963) study that taught children to use objective perspectives when judging misbehaviors Children who observed a model being praised for being more objective were more likely to make objective judgments than those who had no model but only received praise for their own responses.
Rosekrans & Hartup’s (1967) inflatable doll study (similar to Bandura’s Bobo doll studies) Children who saw aggressive behavior reinforced played more aggressively; children who saw aggressive behavior punished played less aggressively. Levy’s (1974) study of picture preferences Children who saw a model’s choice approved were more likely to make the same choice. Children who saw a model’s choice criticized were less likely to make the same choice.
How is this different from imitation? Imitation is simply copying a behavior after observing a model. Observational learning may result in copying the behavior, but it may also result in doing some thing completely different as a result of observing the model.
Imitation is not necessary for observational learning to occur Imitation might be evidence that learning did not occur Imitation does not require the observation of consequences. Subjects have a tendency to imitate models regardless of whether or not a model receives reinforcement because imitation has paid off in the past
What factors influence observational learning? Consequences of the model’s behavior Consequences of the observer’s behavior Observer’s age and learning history
Characteristics of the Model Competence Attractiveness Likability Prestige Age Sex Popularity
Why does observational learning occur? According to social cognitive theory, observational learning is due to four processes: Attentional processes: Observer pays attention to the model. Retentional processes: Observer is able to recall the information about the model’s behavior and repeat it (or a verbal representation of it). Motor reproductive processes: Observer has the ability to engage in the actions to replicate the model actions or a variation of those actions. Motivational processes: Observer is motivated to repeat the model’s behavior.
According to the Miller-Dollard reinforcement theory, observational learning is due to reinforcement. Observational learning is a variation of operant learning. Changes in the observer’s behavior are due to the consequences of the observer’s consequences (not the model’s consequences). This theory places more emphasis on the observer’s history and experiences.