wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Albert Bandura - Psychology and LearningAlbert Bandura - Psychology and Learning


Albert Bandura (1925 - )


A Canadian psychologist (pictured right), who has greatly increased our understanding of learning.


His most famous book is…

Social Learning Theory (1977).


What did he teach us about learning?


1. Learning by imitation

His “social learning theory” emphasizes the importance of observational learning (or modelling) where people learn by

  • watching others.
  • imitating them. Albert Bandura - Psychology and Learning

For example, in his 1961 Bobo doll experiment, children started beating a doll immediately after seeing a woman in a film doing the same thing.

Bandura identified four essential requirements for effective observational learning:

  • attention (paying attention and concentration).
  • retention (retaining and recalling the observed behaviour).
  • reproduction (performing what’s being observed).
  • motivation (wanting to imitate what you observe) - see point 2.

By imitating others, children are very likely to receive positive reinforcement for behaviour considered most appropriate for their sex, so reinforcing traditional gender roles.


2. Motivation

Bandura believed that important motivators are:

a) rewards (including intrinsic motivators like fulfilment and a sense of achievement).

b) observational learning (imitating others who achieve desirable results).

c) self-efficacy - self-belief in achieving results - see point 3.


 3. Self-efficacy

This is Bandura’s term for self-belief i.e. the belief you have in your ability to improve.

This is:

  • essential for success. Albert Bandura - Psychology and Learning
  • strengthened by overcoming adversity.

You are more likely to blame failure on

  • insufficient effort (if you have self-efficacy)
  • your inability and external factors ,like other people's actions (if you don’t have self-efficacy)

False self-beliefs that shield you from reality must be discarded, although this is a difficult thing to do.


Albert Bandura - Psychology and Learning

4. Standards may strangle you

High standards make failure more likely.

This is particularly true of talented people who are often dissatisfied by failing to achieve their high aspirations.


5. Learning isn’t easy but stay positive

Learning can be difficult, but the best way to succeed is to stretch yourself to achieve something positive - see also point 6.

“Approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than threats to be avoided”, Bandura said.

 Albert Bandura - Psychology and Learning

6. Make your opportunites

You can influence your life just as much as your circumstances influence you (“reciprocal determinism”).


Key quotes on learning

Most human behaviour is learned through modelling.

The road to proficiency is marked by spurts, setbacks, and periods of little or no progress

Self-beliefs that have served a protective function for years are not quickly discarded

Approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than threats to be avoided.


Key quote on success

People are producers of their life circumstances not just products of them.

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