Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 1396-1397

Social Learning Theory

  • Tonya R. HammerAffiliated withCounseling Department, School of Education, University of Houston Clear Lake Email author 


Imitation; Modeling; Media influence; Observational learning; Social cognitive learning theory


Social learning theory states that norms, attitudes, expectations, and beliefs arise from an interaction with the cultural or social environment around an individual.


Albert Bandura, the leading theorist in social learning theory, proposed that people learn from their observations of individuals or models. Bandura believed that behavioral theories presuming that environment determines one’s behavior were too simplistic in nature. In response he presented the idea of reciprocal determinism, meaning the environment and one’s behavior cause each other. As the theory developed the term prosocial behavior was coined. Prosocial behavior has been defined by theorists as “helping behavior that benefits others” [3]. The premise behind social learning theory, unlike operant or classical conditioning, is that the behavior does not have to be perfor ...

This is an excerpt from the content