Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory

Albert Bandura is one of the most cited psychologists in history, as he has contributed significantly to science by introducing social learning theory. Bandura has also distinguished himself as the originator of the theoretical construct of self-efficacy. Moreover, a series of highly illustrative experiments proved some of his ideas and made them famous worldwide. The prominent psychologist was born in a small Canadian town and moved to the US after working in the Yukon. Albert Bandura has been interested in personality development since his childhood years, as he sought to use any opportunities for self-education. His strive for knowledge has influenced the approaches he used while creating the basis for the social learning theory.

The social learning theory created by Albert Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and imitating other people’s actions in the learning process and social behavior. Moreover, it promotes new perceptions of personality by pointing out the importance of various internal processes that can influence the development greater than the reinforcements. Albert Bandura believed that learning new behavior patterns are essential for the changes in the institutions and contribute to the accelerating progress. The practical nature of Bandura’s theories allowed for the creation of the Entertainment-Education framework that seeks to merge the two processes to influence a person’s behavior in a gentle and highly effective way.

Albert Bandura paid special attention to aggression in his work, as he believed that the types of behavior associated with it represent merely a response that could be generally accepted in society. The prominent psychologist pointed out that children who often witness certain types of behavior in adults tend to find them acceptable and integrate similar responses in their own patterns of behavior (Schultz & Schultz, 2017). The influential 1961 Bobo doll experiment performed by Bandura allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the origins of the widespread types of aggressive actions (Graham & Arshad-Ayaz, 2016). The experiment analyzed the behavior of children that were shown different models of interaction with a doll. The results of the experiment proved that children generally tend to imitate the type of behavior that they are exposed to. Moreover, children are influenced by same-sex models to a much greater extent.

Therefore, the study proved that the reasoning behind people’s actions does not solely depend on rewards and punishments. People’s behavior is influenced by observing others being rewarded and punished for certain actions. This part of personality development should not be undermined, especially when raising children, as they can be influenced by the numerous role models they are frequently exposed to. Albert Bandura stipulated that watching violent media can influence people’s perceptions of appropriate types of responses under specific circumstances. Thus, the famous psychologist managed to emphasize the role of observational learning in personality development. Moreover, he proved that the increasing popularity of different types of media can lead to a situation where media magnates are directly responsible for the changes in the personality development of millions of children.

Albert Bandura underlined that observing and imitating behavior may significantly alter children’s behavior. Nevertheless, MacBlain (2018) claims that Bandura also stated that such stimuli do not always result in serious changes and may no influence their personality development. The great psychologist argued that motivation is always a major factor that drives children’s behavior and even their ability and willingness to learn. Moreover, Rumjaun and Narod (2020) argue that social learning theory emphasizes the importance of developing observation, attention, retention alongside motivation in children. Self-efficacy is also central to understanding the theory created by Bandura, as it states that a child should believe in his/her ability to perform great in order to eventually succeed in various types of activities. Poor self-efficacy is associated with the focus on negative outcomes and, consequently, avoiding challenging tasks.

Bandura’s theory can provide a great explanation for some of the stages of my personality development that not only shaped my life but also influenced the preferable types of behavior and even my character traits. Observing adults and peers during my childhood years altered the way I perceived myself and my ability to achieve results in the most efficient ways. For instance, my mother always cooked a lot at home using fresh ingredients, despite being a busy person, just like any other parent. I was surprised to see that my friends ate a lot of processed foods that are microwaved at home. My mother never deliberately encouraged me to be a great cook. Nevertheless, my childhood observations and experiences motivated me to learn a lot about various types of foods and cooking techniques, as delicious home-cooked dinners are one of the key ingredients of happy family life.

I have also recently realized the origins of my enthusiasm for sports. According to Bandura, being motivated by rewards and punishments is not the only factor that may influence a child (Schultz & Schultz, 2017). I have become interested in various types of sports in my childhood years by analyzing other sportsmen’s careers and achievements. The happy moments I virtually shared with the prominent athletes made me perceive sports as highly rewarding and great by default.

Albert Bandura revolutionized various fields of psychology, including social cognitive theory and personality psychology. I believe that he created a great framework that can be applied for various episodes of a person’s life in order to realize the driving factors behind some of the typical behavior patterns. Therefore, learning more about the origins of self-efficacy and the role models that influence important choices can significantly improve a person’s life.


MacBlain, S. (2018). Learning theories for early years practice. Sage.

Rumjaun A., & Narod F. (2020). Social learning theory – Albert Bandura. In B. Akpan & T.J. Kennedy (Eds.), Science education in theory and practice (pp. 85–99). Springer. Web.

Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2017). Theories of personality (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Graham, P., & Arshad-Ayaz, A. (2016). Learned unsustainability: Bandura’s Bobo doll revisited. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 10(2), 262–273. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory." September 4, 2023.