Social Learning Thoery. Essay

2470 words - 10 pages

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 moves on to instigation where the behaviour is influenced by the models and inducements are offered. In order for the behaviour to continue in must then be regulated. This is a process of reinforcement and punishment by several means which sustains and maintains the conditions.Sam is a 28 year old male who has just been found guilty of property related offences and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment. Sam's childhood was characterised by instability, violent and ineffectual parenting, ensuring that he was marginalised by poor social standing. He has a long history of criminality compounded by continual negative associations, substance abuse and institutionalised thought patterns. Throughout Sam's youth and adult years he has had continual exposure to poor modelling influences and has had the opportunity to acquire, instigate and regulate his behaviour in a criminal fashion.ACQUISITIONMost behaviour, including criminality, that are displayed are learned either deliberately or inadvertently by observing the...

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