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SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY

Won’t somebody please think of children’s psychological development?

By Alex Farmer
On April 17, 2014

Do you always look at the potential results of your actions before doing something? For now, just think in broad terms to formulate your answer.

Once you have your answer, continue reading. We will revisit this question shortly.

In today's society, we encourage everyone to express themselves and to be who they are. This is important, because it is the only way we can truly be happy with ourselves.

However, it is equally important to consider all of the possible outcomes of the ways we act. 

Unfortunately, it appears we have developed a tendency to consider just the immediate outcomes of our actions.

Although these are essential to think about, it is also necessary to consider the long-term consequences of our actions. 

The list of people we consider who might be affected by our actions also needs to grow.

So without further ado, I will get to the point. I believe that because people have become so overwhelmed with doing whatever they want and not considering the outcomes of their actions, future generations will not even know what the word "moral" means.

It is apparent that we are not taking into consideration everything that the youth of society is learning from our behaviors. 

If we were, children wouldn't be exposed to sex, violence and drugs like they are.

As I previously stated, it is good that we are teaching them to be themselves. 

However, we are also breaking all boundaries and causing a severe decay in morals for them.

According to Albert Bandura, a famous psychologist at Stanford University, behavior is learned from watching the behaviors of other people. 

This process is called observational learning.

In Bandura's most famous experiment, he illustrated this type of learning with children. 

The experiment was called the Bobo doll experiment.

In summary, children watched an adult act either aggressively or non-aggressively towards an inflated doll. 

These children were then put in a room alone with the same doll.

Once in the room, the children imitated the actions of whichever adult they observed. 

Thus, the results supported his theory on this type of social behavior.

It is no secret that children observe people. Influential figures such as parents, friends and characters they see on TV provide examples of different behaviors for them.

The behaviors they see can vary from masculinity for boys to appearance for girls. 

Regardless of what is being displayed to them, they do pay attention and are very easily influenced.

Vicarious reinforcement also plays a big role in behaviors that can potentially be imitated by children. 

This is when a child takes into account what happens to other people when deciding whether or not to copy their actions.

Now let's compute everything together. 

Children learn behavior by watching others and then deciding whether or not to imitate it depending on social acceptance.

So as promised, let's revisit the opening question. Recall what your answer was and now look at the question in a more specific manner.

First, determine if you just think about immediate consequences of an action or if you also consider them on a long-term scale. 

Next, visualize anyone and everyone that you consider before doing something.

Does your answer involve both immediate and long-term consequences? 

Does it involve how you would feel if your child were to mimic your behavior?

I am not at all trying to oppress anybody. However, it is just imperative that we consider what children are being exposed to and what kind of reinforcements we are providing them with for certain behaviors.

People should express themselves. 

However, people should not take that as an excuse to act crazy and not consider the boundaries within society.

If your behavior is not something that you would want your child to imitate, you should not be doing it. 

Even if you do not have kids, you may just be exposing that behavior to someone else's child.

As always, follow me on Twitter @GatorZ25 and let me know what you thought about the article or what you want to see in future issues. Stay safe and God bless!


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