The Social Learning Theory of Bandura emphasises the importance of observing and modelling the behaviours, attitudes and emotional reactions of others. The Social Learning Theory explains human behaviour in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioural, an environmental influences, suggesting that behaviour can be learned at the cognitive level through observing other people's actions. (Blackburn, 1993) This suggests that people are capable of imagining themselves in similar situations, and of incurring similar outcomes. Once the behaviour is learned it may be reinforced or punished by the consequences it generates. Bandura subscribed to several of the essential concepts of the Operant Conditioning Theory: reinforcement, punishment, and motivation. (Ewen, 1980) Each of these concepts can be used to explain Paul's initial and prolonged criminal activities.
Based on Social Learning Theory, criminal behaviour is maintained through a complex schedule of reinforcement and punishment throughout the life of the individual. The reinforcement for criminal behaviour comes from both internal and external sources.
Reinforcement can be in the form of tangible rewards stemming from the criminal activity itself such as an outlay of money, or from a social perspective like an increase in peer status. (Blackburn, 1993; Hollin, 1989)
Due to Paul's dysfunctional childhood and strong negative influences in his life he found himself tempted by criminal activities in his early teens. He was sent to a boy's home when he was fourteen for stealing, and has been in and out of juvenile and adult institutions ever since. In relation to the Social Learning Theory, Paul was motivated by direct external reinforcement, by the tangible and social status rewards. Due to his upbringing and lack of parental discipline these Paul thought these rewards easily outweighed the consequences of this criminal actions.
The time Paul served in juvenile institutions did not discourage him...