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Chapter #8, Chapter #1

Social Learning Theory (Ch. #1)

An approach that emphasizes the role of modeling, or observational learning, in the development of behavior.

Albert Bandura

Emphasized modeling (imitation) or observational learning as a powerful source of development. Ex. The baby that claps her hands after her mother does so. Bandura's theory stresses the importance of cognition; places a strong emphasis on how we think about ourselves and other people (social-cognitive).

According to Bandura

Children gradually become more selective in what they imitate. Children develop personal standards for behavior and a sense of self-efficacy. These cognitions guide responses in particular situations.


The belief that own abilities and characteristics will help them succeed.

Behavior modification

Consists of procedures that combine conditioning and modeling to eliminate undesirable behaviors and increase desirable responses.

Social Learning Theory (Ch. #8)

According to social learning theory, morality does not have a unique course of development. Rather, moral behavior is acquired just like any other set of responses: through reinforcement and modeling.

Importance of Modeling

Operant conditioning--reinforcement for good behavior in the form of of approval, affection, and other rewards--is not enough for children to acquire moral responses. For a behavior to be reinforced, it must first occur spontaneously.

Social Learning Theorists believe

Children learn to behave morally largely through modeling--by observing an imitating people who demonstrate appropriate behavior.

Helpful and Generous models/characteristics

Warmth and responsiveness, Competence and power, Consistency between assertions and behavior.

Warmth and responsiveness

Preschoolers are more likely to copy the prosocial actions of a warm, responsive adult than those of a cold, distant adult. Warmth seems to make children more attentive and receptive to the model, and it is itself a model of a prosocial response.

Competence and power

Children admire and therefore tend to imitate competent, powerful models--especially older peers and adults.

Consistency between assertions and bahavior

When models say one thing and do another, children generally choose the most lenient standard of behavior that adults demonstrate.

Models are most influential

In the preschool years. By the end of early childhood, children who have had consistent exposure to caring adults have internalized prosocial rules and follow them whether or not a model is present.

Effects of extreme consistent punishment

The more harsh threats, angry physical control, and physical punishment children experience, the more likely they are to develop serious lasting mental health problems; weak internalization of moral rules, depression, aggression, antisocial behavior and poor academic performance in child hood and adolescence. (Criminality and partner and child abuse in adulthood).

Side effects of harsh punishment

1. Parents often spank in response to children's aggression. Yet the punishment itself models aggression. 2. Harshly treated children develop a chronic sense of being personally threatened, which prompts a focus on their own distress rather than a sympathetic orientation to others needs. 3. Children who are frequently punished soon learn to avoid the punishing adult, who, as a result, has little opportunity to teach desirable behaviors. 4. By stopping children's misbehavior temporarily, harsh punishment offers immediate relief to adults. For this reason, a punitive adult is likely to punish with greater frequency over time, a course of action that can spiral into serious abuse. 5. Adults whose parents used corporal punishment are more accepting of such discipline. In this way, use of physical punishment may transfer to the next generation.

Alternatives to harsh punishment

Alternatives to criticism, slaps, and spankings can reduce the undesirable side effects of punishment.

Time out

Removing children from their immediate setting (sending to room) until they are ready to act appropriately.

Withdrawal of privileges

Removing privileges allows parents to avoid harsh techniques that can easily intensify into violence.

Increasing the effectiveness of punishment

Consistency, A warm parent-child relationship, Explanations


Permitting children to act inappropriately on some occasions but scolding them on others confuses children, and the unacceptable act persists.

A warm parent-child relationship

Children of involved, caring parents find the interruption in parental affection that accompanies punishment especially unpleasant. They want to regain parental warmth and approval as quickly as possible.


Providing reasons for mild punishment helps children relate the misdeed to expectations for future behavior. This approach leads to a far greater reduction in misbehavior than using punishment alone.

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