Social learning theory is a psychological perspective that states that all social behavior is learned, reinforced and modeled by the observation of others’ actions and the rewards/punishments following those actions.
Social learning theory was derived from the work of Albert Bandura, whose initial research analyzed the willingness of children and adults to imitate behaviour observed in others. Bandura proposed that the modelling process involved four main steps:
1. In order for an individual to learn a behaviour that another individual is performing, they must first pay attention to the features of that behaviour.
2. In order to successfully perform the learned behaviour, they must be able to remember, or retain, the steps and features of the behaviour.
3. The individual must possess the motor coordination necessary to accurately or approximately reproduce the behaviour seen.
4. The individual must have the motivation to accurately perform the previous three steps.
Bandura, A. (1977). “Social Learning Theory“. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.