Post One- Observational Learning

"Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action." - Albert Bandura, 1977

Observational learning, a part of Bandura's social learning theory, is when a person learns new behaviors through integrating behaviors of others. Bandura conducted an experiment in which he video taped a woman acting aggressively towards a Bobo doll, doing things such as kicking, punching, throwing, and hitting it with little hammers
(as can be seen here). Bandura then showed the film to a group of children before letting them into a play area with the same Bobo doll. As seen in the youtube video, the children act on the doll in the same way that the woman had acted. Through this experiment, Bandura was able to look at novel acts of aggression and further theorize that many behaviors are acquired through modeling.

Bandura, along with his developing theory, created steps that are necessary to complete the observational learning process. The first, being attention, explains that in order to learn something, one must be paying attention. Retention is the second step, where storage of the observed practices is crucial to reproduce such actions, which is step 3. This is where one actually performs the observed behavior, which is guided by motivation (which is step 4). A person has to be motivated to repeat the action that has been retained and reproduced. These abilities are seen in even very small children, as shown in this video:

Observational learning is something that every person does in their lifetime. Learning from only your own behaviors wouldn't get you very far, would it?


  1. Your video really showed how everyone takes part in observational learning at some point. This baby obviously observed what he/she was seeing on the television and reacted based off of what was being observed. Even without knowing it, we learn through observation all the time. If we went off of our own behavior, we would only learn what we already know.

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