SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORY

People who regard themselves as a highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as inefficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it.
— Albert Bandura, 1986

Key Terms:

  • Social Cognition Theory: Humans behave based on their cognition and beliefs and are influenced by contextual factors including where the learning takes place, when it takes place, why it takes place, how it is taking place, and what they are learning.

  • Latent Learning: Learning that occurs without us necessarily knowing that we are learning - and without reinforcement.

  • Vicarious Learning: Learning that occurs by observing or reading about others. Through these experiences, we understand outcomes of behavior.

  • Self-Efficacy: One’s perceived capabilities for learning or what do we believe we are capable of doing and achieving?

  • Self-Regulation: Self-generated thoughts, feelings, and action, which drives learners to pursue their goals.

  • Outcome-Expectancy: suggests that we act in ways that we believe will produce desired outcomes. If we expect to achieve, we may have a better shot of actually achieving and vice versa. If we expect to fail, we probably will.

Key Players:

  • Albert Bandura (1925-): an influential social cognitive psychologist who is perhaps best-known for his social learning theory, the concept of self-efficacy, and his famous Bobo doll experiments

  • William McDougall (1871-1938): an experimental psychologist and theorist of wide-ranging interests. Above all, he believed in a holistic psychology that utilized every available tool for understanding the human psyche. He was the first to formulate a theory of human instinctual behavior, and he influenced the development of the new field of social psychology.

  • Julian Rotter (1916-2014) : an American psychologist known for developing influential theories, including social learning theory and locus of control (i.e. an belief regarding the causes of his or her experiences and the factors to which that person attributes success or failure.

  • Edward Deci (1942-): a Professor of Psychology and Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Rochester, and director of its human motivation program. He is well known in psychology for his theories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and basic psychological needs.

  • Richard Ryan (1953-): a clinical psychologist and co-developer with Edward Deci, of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), one of the most influential theories of human motivation. 

IMPORTANT STUFF:

Social Cognition

Social Cognition theorists suggest that humans behave based on their cognition and beliefs and are influenced by contextual factors including where the learning takes place, when it takes place, why it takes place, how it is taking place, and what they are learning.

Historically, this theory is influenced by behaviorists like B.F. Skinner who believed that imitation and observing others led to learning. Although this theory has evolved, observation, modeling, goal-setting, self-evaluation, self-efficacy, and self-regulation are all complementary cogs in Social Cognition Theory.

Early developments in Social Cognition Theory is reflected by the early (and most known) work of B.F. Skinner, who suggested that imitation is a conditioned practice that occurs in three phases. The first phase is Discriminative Stimulus in which behavior is observed. Next is the Response Phase where the observer performs the observed action. Finally is the Reinforcing Stimulus in which the imitated behavior is reinforced (or rewarded), which leads to the likelihood of imitating that behavior again.

Discriminitive Stimulus > Response > Reinforcement

I see the behavior > I repeat behavior > I get a cookie > I want to repeat behavior again because those are damn good cookies

Two other influences on Social Cognitive Theory is research on Latent and Social Learning. Latent learning is learning that occurs without reinforcement. It’s true that people learn all the time without receiving any rewards or punishments. Much of what we learn depends highly on the goals that we set, our personal expectations, and our motivation to a few other factors that all fall under the umbrella of our beliefs, which was something B.F. Skinner did not account for in his experiments on animals. People are way more complicated in their thinking than animals. We have beliefs about ourselves and the world around us that influence how we behave and learn.

We believe certain things about ourselves, our learning capacities, the learning materials available to us, and the rewards and consequences, which all seem to drive our decision-making regarding whether or not to behave a certain way. How often have you heard of a student who claims they are terrible at math? Because this student thinks this way, he/she may tune out in math class, never set math-oriented goals, always expects poor grades, and experience very low math-self-efficacy.

  • Expectancy: Personal belief that there will be a reinforcement or consequence for behavior. Will I be punished or rewarded if I act this way?

  • Reinforcement Value: How much the learner valued the reinforcement. Is the reward good enough that I actually care to behave this way?

  • Outcome-Expectancy suggests that we act in ways that we believe will produce desired outcomes. If we expect to achieve, we may have a better shot of actually achieving and vice versa. If we expect to fail, we probably will.

  • Goals are commitments to instigate and sustain actions. Depending on the proximity of those goals (e.g. short-term or long-term), our beliefs about the difficultly of those goals, and how specific those goals all factor in to whether or not we can actually attain and meet those goals.

  • Self-Evaluation is the process of evaluating how we are progressing toward those goals. If we don’t at all self-evaluate, we tend to stop trying to reach those goals. Or, if we feel that we are making decent progress, we are more apt to keep moving toward that goal.

  • Value is the importance or significance we believe the learning to be. Things we personally value more tend to be the things we strive to achieve. We could have some serious mathematical talent, but if we don’t value math, we probably won’t want to do math.

  • Self-Efficacy is one’s perceived capabilities for learning or what do we believe we are capable of doing and achieving? This, more than any of the other factors influences our behavior regarding learning.

  • Social Comparisons: The process of comparing ourselves to others, which usually drive our evaluations about ourselves and our progress toward a goal.

Other factors are that may affect how we teach and learn are…

Behavior Potential: Probability that a learner would act in a certain way rather than in a different way. How likely will teaching using a certain method influence learner behavior?

Psychological Situations (or Context): The where, when, what, and how of the learning environment. For instance, how will the color of the walls, the posters I hang in my room, and even the color of my skin influence student learning?

Self-Efficacy

Self-Efficacy is one of the most powerful (and most often discusses) influential factors of Social Cognition Theory. Our self-efficacy influences how we set goals or if we even bother to set them, and whether or not we feel that performing some work will actually lead to a reward. If we have low self-efficacy, we might not believe we can achieve much; therefore, we may not set many learning goals or set those goals very modestly, which will diminish or alter how we self-evaluate our progress. If we have high self-efficacy, that means we feel as though we can achieve and therefore have more of a tendency to self-evaluate, set high goals and actually follow through with those goals.

Of course, all of this all depends on our actual real capabilities. No matter how much someone believes they can solve an algebraic equation, they could not without first having a learning-foundation that would lead to solving the equation. Someone who wants to read and comprehend Dante’s Inferno must have previously acquired the tools to do so.

Below is one framework for Social Cognition Theory. You’ll see that even our gender and race can influence our self-efficacy, which drives our interest in certain subjects and how we set goals and how we perform. It is very complex, but it all boils down to cognition, beliefs, and context and all the social influences that assisted in influencing those things.

Social-cognitive-theory

Social Cognition Theory

A Framework

From https://wikispaces.psu.edu/display/PSYCH484/7.+Self-Efficacy+and+Social+Cognitive+Theories