Essay on Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory

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621 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Albert Bandura is famously known for his social cognitive theory in the world of neo-behaviorism and social constructivism. The bandura theory lays emphasis on the principle of behavior, the environment, and cognition working in an interplay to exert influence on people. The principle of reciprocal determination is based on the ideology that our environment is the cause of our behavior, and our behavior is the cause of the environment. This theory states that individuals learn a lot through watching the actions of others, this is done by retaining the information, imitating it or reproducing it in other aspects of life where they deem it worthy of showing. In this context, I would look into the reciprocity of the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The way of life of these individuals generated an impulse that sent a domino-like an effect on the lives of people and their environment (Bandura, 2001).

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The Bandura theory is currently used by researchers and even parents to look into the lives of individuals and even children on their developmental stages in life. Taking, for instance, children learn a lot from what is predisposed in their environment; this is through observation and learning and later imitation of the same behaviors. In order for children to understand and retain, reinforcement is always a factor. Positive or negative reinforcement encourages or discourages any other habit, in the long run, children take up habits that are positively reinforced as they seek out approval. Positively approved habits are taken up, habits that are not approved are not adopted.

Looking into the lives of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, they both embraced principles of non-violence. Martin Luther King Jr. embodied the life lived by Mahatma Gandhi, he always learned from him and always worked towards achieving the principles of nonviolence, alternatives to violence (Fajkowska & DeYoung, 2014). These principles worked for them in the aspect that they managed to use nonviolence in pushing their agendas. It is practically viable to look at how Martin Luther looked up to Mahatma. Behaviorism comes in the way in that Martin Luther King learned through observation of the way with which Mahatma conducted his affairs. Martin Luther lived a selfless life that was geared towards the betterment of the people around them and the society in general. Their situations resemble on the perspective that both characters used nonviolence mechanism to help their people. Mahatma used nonviolence to free Indians from the British colonialist and Martin used nonviolence to free the Blacks from slavery and racial segregation (Leydesdorff, 2007).

Using the concepts of social cognitive theory one affirms that individuals learn a lot from observation of other people, they retain the information and also reproduce the information through modeling or imitation of the specific trait. Martin Luther King embodied Mahatma Gandhi, he took what he learned from Mahatma and imitated it, and it helped him to launch a successful campaign against white supremacy. In any case one can argue that Martin Luther King imitated Mahatma, this follows suit with Banduras concept of neo-behaviorism and social constructivism. Behaviors are observed, information is retained and imitated or reproduced. Martin Luther King Jr. is a perfect example of this principle. Social cognition and the media has propagated the adoption of newer cultures and ways of life that have propelled the cultural diversity of the world.


Bandura, A. (2001). Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299.

Fajkowska, M. & DeYoung, C. (2014). Toward integrative theories of personality. Personality And Individual Differences, 60, S17.

Leydesdorff, L. (2007). Scientific Communication and Cognitive Codification: Social Systems Theory and the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. European Journal Of Social Theory, 10(3), 375-388.

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