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Social Learning Theory Essay

1874 words - 7 pages

Akers and Sellers (2013) has stated that social learning theory is an expanded theory of differential association processes and improves it with differential reinforcement and other principles of the behavior theory. They added classical conditioning (the sharpening of involuntary reflex behavior); discriminative stimuli (internal stimuli that lead to signals for behavior); schedules of reinforcement (rewards and punishment ratio following behavioral feedback); and other theories of behavior (Akers & Sellers, 2013).
Akers’ social learning theory’s basic premise is that deviant behavior is learned. The theory has four components. First is definitions, where a person considers his behavior is normal. Definitions can be general or specific. General definitions refers to a person’s religious, moral, and conventional values which is conducive to conforming behavior and decreases the chances of committing deviant behavior. Specific definitions refers to a person orienting himself to an action or series of actions. For example, a person may believe that drinking and driving is wrong so he will follow the laws of the road. However, he may see little wrong in smoking marijuana, and break the law of drug possession and use. The second component is imitation where a person copies other people’s behavior after observing them. The third component is differential reinforcement which is the balance of anticipated punishments and rewards that are consequences of behavior. Differential reinforcements have positive (rewarding outcomes) and negative reinforcements (punishments for bad behavior). Finally, the last component is differential association which basically means the people you hang out with. Differential association has four elements which are priority, duration, frequency, and intensity (Akers & Sellers, 2013).
Furthermore, Akers and Sellers (2013) explained that the basic assumption of social learning theory is that it uses the same learning process of social structure, interaction, and situation, producing either conforming or criminal behavior. The chances that individuals will engage in deviant behavior, increases, when they get involved with the wrong crowd, and decreases when they associate themselves with good role models such as family, friends, religious institutions, and teachers (Aker & Sellers, 2013).
The purpose of this paper is to summarize, examine, and analyze two journal articles entitled, “Social Learning and Deviant Behavior: A Specific Test of a General Theory” and “Social Learning and Structural Factors in Adolescent Substance Use.” This paper will summarize the article’s main hypotheses, past research used in the study, and the importance of the study. In addition, the paper will examine the article’s methods including research design, data sources, relevant information on sampling, and independent and dependent variables. The paper will discuss the results of the main research question posed, check if the results were useful, list...

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