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The theory of social cognition is grounded in behaviorism and cognitive approaches to the psychology of understanding humans, but addresses the inadequacies and limitations of the two theories by creating a more complete picture of human growth and development


Must see videos! video on social cognitive

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The Social Cognitive Perspective:

The way people behave and experience with their surrounding environments affect how they learn. Social Cognitive Theory factors in a person's environment as well as personal characteristics and traits. The framework of SCT is observational learning, reproduction, self efficiency, emotional coping, and self- regulatory capability. Social Cognitive Theory can be directly related to observe others while with social context and environment and outside media influences

Reciprocal Influences

Reciprocal determinism: process of interacting with our environment
Different people choose different environments (then it shapes you)
Our personalities shape how we interpret and react to events

Our personalities help create situations to which we react
Behavior emerges from the interplay of external and internal influences

There are two major deciding factors on if a person will take a certain action or not. The first one being is that all the possible outcomes of the actions outweigh the costs. The second, and arguably the most important is that a person must have the self-efficiency respect with in themselves. The person must believe that they have the skills need to accomplish that task under those certain circumstances.

Personal Control
Personal control: whether we control or are controlled by our environment
Locus of Control: How much control do we have over our lives?
External: when people believe that outside forces determine their fate
Internal: they think they control their own destiny
Self: the ability to control impulses and delay gratification

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Core Assumptions and Statements
  • The social cognitive theory details how individuals learn and maintain certain behavioral patterns. Evaluating behavioral change depends on a few things such as the factors environment, people and behavior.
  • The three factors environment, people and behavior are constantly influencing each other. Behavior is not just the result of the environment and the person. The environment provides models for behavior.
  • "Observational learning occurs when a person watches the actions of another person and the reinforcements that the person receives" (Bandura, 1997).
  • "The concept of behavior can be viewed in many ways. Behavioral capability means that if a person is to perform a behavior he must know what the behavior is and have the skills to perform it" (Bandura 1977).
  • The Social Cognitive Theory's origins lie in the Social Learning Theory which dates back to the late 1800's.


Social Cognitive Theory stemmed out of work in the area of social learning theory proposed by N. E. Miller and J. Dollard in 1941. Their proposition posits that if one were motivated to learn a particular behavior, then that particular behavior would be learne
d through clear observations. In 1963 Bandura and Walters broadened the social learning theory with the principles of observational learning ( occurs when an observer’s behavior changes after viewing the behavior of a model.) and vicarious reinforcement (Reinforcement that occurs when you imitate the behavior of someone who has been reinforced for that behavior). After, Miller and Dollard came up with the theory of social learning in 1941, while in 1963 Bandura and Walters expanded this theory with observational learning and reinforcement.LINK!

Some theorists believe the social experience with peers, family and others is critical for social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth. The most commonly known concept of social cognitive theory is observational learning-(where a change in behavior happens by watching others)

4 components of Observational Learning-

Attention (observe action in environment),

Retention (remember what was seen),

Reproduction (ability to repeat action)

Motivation (probability of behavior happening again).

Bandura defined the components of learning with even MORE DETAIL, suggesting that SELF-EFFICACY

(or the belief in one's own ability, affe

cts our life in a number of ways)


Five Kinds of Cognitive Social Learning Variables:
(1) Encoding Strategies: Meaning how you see it
(2) Expectancies: Meaning what will happen
(3) Values: Meaning what is it worth/goals
(4) Plans: Meaning how you achieve it
(5) Competencies: Meaning what can you do

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external image Bandura.jpg
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Albert Bandura proposed the social-cognition perspective, he emphasized the interaction of people and their daily situations.
Bandura had a some basic concepts in his theory:

1) Observational learning

2) Reciprocal determinism
3) Self-efficac

Click here to read more in depth about each of these concepts in Bandura's actual papers!;jsessionid=AE3EB4A0AC753C545AEEBCF1719CDB1A?doi=

  • Example: friends, food, school <-- we choose all of these ourselves.
  • Personalities shape us and our actions towards different situations.
    • Example: Anxious people apply themselves to threatening events, hence their beliefs on the world being a threatening place.
  • Personalities also help create situations to which we react.
    • Example: treating people the way you want to be treated; if you are expecting anger from someone else then you project anger towards them too
    • Example:In Bandura's Bobo Doll study children demonstrated various actions that they had observed from adults. Some children when left alone with the doll exibitited violent actions, ultimately recreating situations that they had witnessed prior.


Here are some interesting articles pertaining to the Social Cognitive Perspective


(2003, July). Social Cognitive Theory. The Initiative Network Retrived Februrary 25, 2010 from 27153/36

(2007). Social Cognitive Theory. Journal of Interaction Recipes, 1-1. Retrieved from

Albert bandura. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Bandura, A. (n.d.). Social cognitive theory of personality. Retrieved from;jsessionid=AE3EB4A0AC753C545AEEBCF1719CDB1A?

Cherry, K. (n.d.). Social cognitive theory. Retrieved from

Cognitive social theories. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Davis, A. (2006, February 2). Social cognitive theory. Retrieved from

Grim, M.L. (2007). Using Social cognitive theory in physical education: an example of the translation of research into practice.
Retrieved from

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2010, March). Social Learning Theory (Bandura) at Retrieved

March 1st, 2010 from

Myers, D.G. (2005). Exploring psychology. Holland, MI: Worth publishers .

Sabbatini, R.M.E. (n.d.). The History of electrical stimulation of the brain. Retrieved from

Social cognition. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Stone, D. (n.d.). Social cognitive theory. Retrieved from

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