Social Learning



Social Learning

One way people learn is by watching the behavior of others. Sometimes called social learning, this type of learning involves the process of learning to copy—or not copy—the action of another. By observing the results, or consequences, of another's behavior, people learn, over time, to either imitate or avoid imitating that behavior. In general, people tend to imitate the behavior of another when they see that it leads to a desirable consequence—hoping to repeat it for themselves. Of course, the opposite is also true—people tend to avoid imitating the behavior of another when they see it result in an undesirable consequence.

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    <-NARRATOR:-> Now listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class.
    <-MALE PROFESSOR:-> OK, so an example to illustrate this . . .
    you often see this happen in families . . . .
    Let's say there're these two kids-a sister and a brother-
    let's say the girl's six and the boy's four.
    And one day they're all out shopping with their mother,
    and they're in this store, and the girl sees a toy she wants . . . .
    She asks her mother to buy it, to buy the toy for her.
    But the mother says no.
    So what does the little girl do?
    She starts crying and screaming.You know, "Mommy, I want it!"
    And finally Mom gives in and says, "OK, fine, you can have it" and buys the girl the toy . . . .
    Now don't forget,
    the little brother's there, and he's watching all this happen . . .
    and maybe he sees this sort of thing happen a lot-
    his mother giving in when his sister cries and screams.
    What do you think he's gonna start doing when he wants something from Mom?
    He'll probably cry and scream,
    right? But what if the opposite had happened?
    Say Mom didn't give in and didn't buy the girl the toy.
    In fact, say Mom instead disciplined the girl for screaming and crying-
    when they got home, she didn't let the little girl watch her favorite TV program . . . .
    Again, the little boy is watching.
    Now what's the little boy likely to do, if he finds himself in a similar situation and he wants Mom to buy him something? [Suggesting that the boy will avoid imitating the behavior]
    Chances are, he's not gonna cry and scream, right?


Use the examples from the lecture to explain the concept of social learning.


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