Social Learning Theory and Its Application to Aggression

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Social learning theory proposes that social learning occurs when the individual views a modeled behavior that they value, observes an act if the model has a role model or admired status, and when a person imitates a learned behavior (Bandura, & Ribes-Inesta, 1976). The basic foundations of the theory are applied to education policies, understanding psychological disorders, training courses, behavioral modeling, in the media and has a plethora of further applications in today’s society. Another application of the theory is for criminals, violence and aggression. Whether referring to violence in the media, domestic violence, community violence, bullying and others, aggression and violent behaviors can by dissected and expounded using social learning theory.

Social learning theory is one of the most commonly used behavior theories regarding criminology and aggression. Albert Bandura, one of the more important contributors to social learning theory, believed that aggression could not be explained by a simplistic behaviorism theory. When looking at aggression, Bandura sought to find out how aggressive behaviors are established, why they behave antagonistically and how to determine if an individual will continue to display patterns of aggression (Evans, 1989). Social learning theory’s three main propositions are that social learning occurs from observations and from internal reinforcement; and that learning a behavior does not necessarily mean that a person will demonstrate such actions. Social cognitive theory builds upon this last point and is based on the idea that people’s morality affects social learning. Eventually, Bandura believed that the two theories should converge and that it provides a better way of understanding social l...

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