Social learning theory focuses on learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another and includes such concepts as observational learning, imitation and modelling. Albert Bandura is considered the leading proponent of this theory.
Social learning theory is in part an extension on operant principles with the most notable difference being the role of cognition. Social learning theory holds that behaviour can not only be learnt through direct experience with reinforcements or punishments but also through observation of the behaviour of other people.
In brief social learning theory suggests that through observation of others- especially those we hold in esteem, people can learn at a cognitive level how to imitate the observed behaviour. Provided the opportunity is present this behaviour can then be practiced and refined; the behaviour is then reinforced or punished both internally and externally which assists in shaping and encouraging future behaviour.
The inclusion of cognition as a means of learning is what separates it from operant theory.
The social learning theory in relation to offending behaviour suggests that observational learning takes place primarily in three contexts; the familiar influences, prevalent subculture influences and through symbolic modelling as part of the social environment. This essay will examine how these modelling practices have impacted upon a specific case study.
Social learning theory can be separated into 3 principles. Acquisition, Instigation and regulation of the learned behaviour. Bandura suggests that people are not born criminals any more than they are born with the ability to behave in any other sort of fashion, this like any other behaviour must be learned in one way or another. Through the process of acquisition they will first model their behaviour based on the three influences mentioned above or learn the behaviour by direct experience. The process then...