Difference Between Social Cognitive Theory and Social Learning Theory

Social Cognitive Theory vs Social Learning Theory
 

The difference between social cognitive theory and social learning theory is that social cognitive theory can be viewed as an expanded version of the social learning theory. In psychology, attention has been paid to the process of human learning, and factors that motivate individual to acquire and retain behavior. Social cognitive theory and social learning theory are two theories that have become widely popular within educational psychology. Both social cognitive theory and social learning theory highlight the importance of observation as a way of learning. Through this article let us examine the difference between these two theories.

What is Social Learning Theory?

The social learning theory was introduced by Albert Bandura. Unlike the Behaviorists, who believed that learning occurs mainly due to reinforcement and punishments, or else conditioning, Bandura proposed that learning can occur due to the observation of others. People learn new things as they observe the actions of others. This is also known as vicarious learning. However, Bandura pointed out that the internal mental state plays a key role in the learning process. He also pointed out that observation and learning of new behavior do not guarantee a complete behavioral change.

When speaking of the social learning theory, one cannot forget the Bobo doll experiment. Through this experiment, Bandura pointed out that just as in the experiment, children are influenced by the actions of individuals in the society as they observe various individuals. He considered these individuals such as parents, teachers, friends, etc. as models. The child not only observes but also imitates these actions. If these actions are followed by reinforcements, the actions are likely to continue, and if not, they can slowly disappear. Reinforcement does not have to be external all the time; it can even be internal. Both forms can influence and change individual behavior.

 Social Cognitive Theory vs Social Learning Theory

What is Social Cognitive Theory?

The social cognitive theory has its roots in social learning theory introduced by Albert Bandura. In this sense, the social cognitive theory is a much-expanded theory that captures a variety of dimensions. According to this theory, in the social setting, learning takes place due to the continuous interaction of the individuals, behavior, and the environment. It has to be born in mind that the change in behavior, or else the acquisition of a new behavior is not due to either the environment or the people or the behavior, but it is the interplay of all these elements.

This theory highlights that the social factors such as social influence and reinforcement play a key role in acquiring, maintaining and changing behavior. In this sense, individual behavior is a result of reinforcement, individual experiences, aspirations, etc. Some of the key concepts in social cognitive theory are modeling (observational learning), expectations of outcomes, self-efficacy, setting goals, and self-regulation.

Difference Between Social Cognitive Theory and Social Learning Theory

Albert Bandura

What is the Difference Between Social Cognitive Theory and Social Learning Theory?

Definitions of Social Cognitive Theory and Social Learning Theory:

Social Learning Theory: Social learning theory highlights that people acquire new behavior (learn) through observation of others.

Social Cognitive Theory: The social cognitive theory highlights that the acquisition, maintenance, and change of behavior is a result of the interplay of personal, behavioral, and environmental influences.

Characteristics of Social Cognitive Theory and Social Learning Theory:

Connection:

The social cognitive theory has its roots in social learning theory.

Self-Efficacy:

Social Learning Theory: Self-efficacy  cannot be identified in social learning theory.

Social Cognitive Theory: The concept of self-efficacy is unique to social cognitive theory.

Focus on Cognition:

Unlike in the case of the social learning theory, in the social cognitive theory the focus on cognition is greater.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Albert Bandura by  Fridolin freudenfett (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  2. Bobo doll by Sémhur (FAL)