Extension of Behavioral Theory
Behavioral theory enjoyed immense success and became a predominant mode of thought in psychology for quite a while. Behaviorism maintained that behavior was a result of an organism’s interaction with the environment, and was concerned with observable behavior, rather than internal events such as introspection (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014). Bandura agreed with behaviorist theories of the time, which included classical and operant conditioning; however, he also conceived of a mediating process of cognition and the concept of observational learning (Bandura, Adams, & Beyer, 1977; Grusec, 1992). Prior to this, behavior was thought to be learned strictly through an automatic process of cause and effect that was not impacted by the mind (Bandura, 1971). The idea of a mediating process was rejected by most behaviorists at this time, but Bandura saw it as a necessary function for learning. The importance of a cognitive element separated Bandura from other behaviorists and eventually led to him changing the name from social learning theory to social cognitive theory (Grusec, 1992).
Bandura’s addition of observational learning expanded upon, and better explained, B. F. Skinner’s suggestion of successive approximation for attaining a new response (Grusec,...
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...setting. Behavior can be learned through direct experience and through observing other people, and this knowledge can be applied in the workplace. Observational learning indicates that a person will judge the usefulness of a behavior by seeing how the individual they are modeling acts or reacts to certain situations (Bandura et al., 1977). Having someone that is experienced in a training method physically demonstrate an activity can assist in learning the task, and can be a potent tool in helping someone gain new skills. Social learning theory shows that motivation can come from a reward or punishment situation, which can encourage or discourage behavior, respectively (Grusec, 1992). Motivation is a necessity when it comes to learning on the job, and finding ways to inspire, such as a reward or in-house leader boards, can encourage people to learn proper procedures.
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