Observational Learning Theory

Importance of Pavlov Work

In the current world, Pavlovs Classical Conditioning Theory remains of relevance. It was a simple experiment on how dogs salivated with bell ringing but it has opened the world eyes on Conditional Learning (Mayers, 2008). In fact, Conditional Learning follows Pavlov’s procedure of using unconditioned stimulus to learn the conditioned stimulus. Mostly, the unconditioned stimulus leads to unconditioned responses while the conditioned stimulus produces conditioned responses (Anderson, 2008).

On exposure to the conditioned stimulus, at first, it produces no response. However, after several exposures to conditional and unconditional stimuli, it creates conditioned responses (Kendra, 2013). For instance, Pavlov rang a bell to dogs before presenting food. The given food stimulated salivation and when later he rang the bell without food, he noted dogs salivating. In this case, his bell was conditioned stimuli (Pavlov, 1927). Consequently, the Pavlovs Classical Conditioning Theory is extensively used when studying neural and functioning of human memory.

Moreover, researchers have thought beyond salivation of the Pavlovs dogs into what was going on in the dog’s mind throughout the experiment until they came to learn bell signifies food (Mayers, 2008). This has led to the evolution of more studies involving conditioning (Chang, Miller, & Stout, 2004). For instance, researchers have been able to explain other forms that may occur through conditioning which include providing unconditional stimulus before conditional, presenting both stimuli at the same time, providing conditional stimulus before unconditional and eventually, on how to extinct unconditioned behaviors (Anderson, 2008). Hence, Pavlov work has been developed to help improve, understand, and rehabilitate human characters.

Lastly, Pavlov Classical Conditioning Theory enabled studying human behaviors. Human behaviors are complex. However, through Pavlovs simple experiment, the composite behaviors can now be studied in their simpler building blocks. That is, through Pavlovs Classical Conditioning Theory, behaviors have been divided into feelings or thoughts evoking them. Accordingly, he contributed significantly to behaviors therapy leading to its growth. Actually, from Pavlovs work, the behaviorists can learn how environment influences behaviors of individuals. Moreover, his work helps them understands that people behave the way they do because of exposures to the environment and personal characteristics (Macgee, 2013).

Banduras Learning Type

On the other hand, according to Mayers (2008), Albert Bandura developed social Learning Theory that later was renamed Social Cognitive Theory. Moreover, Mayers (2008) explains how Social Learning Theory came to elaborate humans learning. In reality, Social Learning Theory was because of doubts over whether all learning occurs through direct reinforcement. Conversely, the theory argues that some learning forms occur through observing other people doing their chores (Suzette, 2013). For instance, it is through studying what others are doing an individual gets a glimpse of the new behavior and altitude. He therefore stores the observations for later use.

Moreover, Mayers (2008) noted that the internal mental states of an individual plays an important role in this observational learning. Unlike reinforcement learning which is influenced by environmental factors, observational learning is influenced by internal stimulations like rewards. Hence, from Social Learning Theory, pride and internal satisfaction are significant in the learning process (Suzette, 2013).

He also noted how learning does not necessarily cause a change in behaviors. That is, people can learn new things and fail to portray them. As a result, he noted that not every behavior learned is observed (Suzette, 2013).


Anderson, J. R. (2008). Learning and Memory. USA: Anderson Wiley & Sons Inc.

Chang, R. C., Miller, R. R., & Stout S. M. (2004). Comparing excitatory backward and forward conditioning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Section B, 57(1), 1-23.

Kendra, C. (2013). What is a Conditioned Response? Web.

Macgee, D. L. (2013). Behavioral Modification. Web.

Mayers, D. G. (2008). (Eds.). Exploring Psychology.New York: Catherine woods.

Pavlov, I. P. (1927). Conditioned Reflexes: an Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex. (V. G., Anrep, Trans.). Web.

Suzette, B. (2013). Banduras Social Learning Theory. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Observational Learning Theory." January 15, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/observational-learning-theory/.