Modeling and Observational Learning

There are two basic models of learning. People can learn by direct experience and through the power of social modeling. The advanced capacity of observational learning from modeled activities and their effects enables people to short cut the tedious trial and error process.

Evolutionary advances in communications technology enable people to transcend the confines of their lived environment. Attitudes, values, and new ways of thinking and behaving are now being modeled and rapidly diffused worldwide. A major importance of symbolic modeling lies in its tremendous reach, speed, and power.

Social modeling serves diverse functions in promoting personal and social change. In addition to cultivating new competencies, modeling influences can alter motivation, emotional dispositions, and value systems. Moreover, people's images of social reality and the structure and ideologial orientations of societies are heavily influenced by the symbolic modeling in the mass media.

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Bandura, A. Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1986. (Chapter 2)
Bandura, A. Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1977.
Bandura, A. (Ed.). Psychological modeling: Conflicting theories. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton Press, 1971. (Chapter 2)