Observational Theory of Learning

The need for everyday experience, reward, or consequence for learning is emphasized by various models, including operant conditioning and classic conditioning. To be sure, there is much direct learning that goes on as well. If one considers how a toddler may learn to wave by seeing adults do it, one can see how this might impact them. Huge amounts of knowledge are gained via this procedure. This is what psychologists call "observational learning." Observational learning goes by a few different names, which include modeling and positive learning. While it is possible at any age, adolescence is often when it manifests. It is also a crucial part of maturing into a well-rounded human being. Children learn appropriate public conduct and responses by seeing their parents and caregivers' interactions with one another.

What is Observational Theory of Learning?

Learning via seeing the reactions of others is called observational learning. Different mechanisms give rise to distinct manifestations of this kind of public learning. People, unlike animals, do not appear to need a reward for this kind of acquisition; rather, a public model like a parent, brother, buddy, or instructor, together with the appropriate environment, is all needed. Younger generations often look up to someone seen as authoritative or superior as a model. The method of observation and imitation in animals is frequently grounded on conditioning, wherein instinctual conduct is prompted by witnessing the conduct of another. However, other procedures may be involved, too though.

Facts about the Observational Model of Learning

It includes


Albert, a psychiatrist, is the go-to guy when talking about learned conduct. His work, along with that of others, has shown that humans have a built-in propensity to understand with the help of observing the reactions of others. According to research, children often imitate others with a grasp of public cues around three. However, this varies from kid to child.

Bobo Model Experiment

This fundamental mode of education was first recognized in 1963 by Albert, renowned for his famous Bobo doll study. The ability to learn by seeing the reactions of others is particularly useful for teaching new skills to children. According to Albert Bandura, one's surroundings may significantly impact one's reactions. Both good and bad reactions may be observed and learned from this method. Bandura is an adherent of a model called "reciprocal determinism," which holds that individuals and their surroundings can affect one another. An experiment using Bobo dolls shows how the model may influence children's conduct in a controlled setting. Bandura shows in a study that children exposed to a violent setting mimic that conduct, whereas children exposed to a passive leadership role exhibit far less aggressiveness. The youngsters in societies where observational learning is highly valued are seldom isolated from adult pursuits. Children exposed to the grown-up world at a young age can use the abilities they have learned via observation in many different contexts. The ability to pay close attention is essential for this kind of education. They pick up the message generally that their input is welcome and appreciated. This teaches kids that it is their civic responsibility to note how other people have helped in their communities, increasing their sense of need to give back.

Processes of Observational Model of Learning

It includes


One must give heed to the world surrounding them to gain knowledge. Qualities of both the model and the viewer, such as how much the observer loves or connects with the image and the spectator's hopes or extent of emotional excitation, play a role in this procedure.


Paying attention alone is insufficient for acquiring a new routine. In addition, the spectator must be able to recall the reaction later in time. Observers have a better probability of memorization if it is presented in a simple way to digest and recall. One possible explanation is that they use a mnemonic or commit to a routine of everyday education. This pattern of conduct must be effortlessly recalled to be automatically enacted.


This need concerns a person's cognitive and physical capacity to mimic the reactions of others. A youngster could see an adult slam dunking a ball, for example. When the kid becomes older and has access to a ball, the individual may try to emulate the dunk of their favorite college star. Nevertheless, the kid is not quite as mature physically as the mature college player; regardless of how hard they try, they will never be able to hit the ball. Dunking the ball is something that an older kid or adult could do with much practice. A colt in the herd sees one of his peers cross the brook as they are both galloping in the pasture. Colt tries to imitate the model's leaping reaction and promptly lands in the center of the stream. He lacked the necessary height or leg length to reach the pool's surface. He may learn to leap as high as the other pony with time and development.


An observer incentive is required for this novel conduct. If the observers do not feel motivated to adopt the model's conduct, it does not matter how well they copy it. If observers see a model being rewarded for given conduct and conclude that they will be rewarded if they mimic the model's reactions, it may enhance their incentive to act similarly. If the viewer knows or sees that the model was penalized for certain conduct, it might dampen the spectator's incentive to repeat that conduct.


In the Bandura theory, self-efficacy was introduced in the context of an explanatory model of human behavior, in which self-efficacy causally impacts predicted conduct outcomes but not vice versa. Self-efficacy beliefs have a variety of implications via cognitive, motivational, emotional, and decisional processes. Efficacy beliefs influence whether people think optimistically or pessimistically or positively or negatively about themselves. Through goal challenges and outcome expectancies, they play a critical role in the self-regulation of motivation. In this aspect, self-efficacy is central to SCLT and demonstrates views about one's competence or capability to perform an activity successfully. Furthermore, it emphasizes that people engage in tasks depending on their perceived competency and prior success.

Bandura's approach includes characterizing four sources of efficacy information, or learning experiences, that contribute to establishing self-efficacy expectations. It is still relevant since it is a component of Bandura's social cognitive theory and an essential component of SCCT. In other words, some researchers endorsed self-efficacy based on Bandura's theory, claiming that self-efficacy can influence behavior and cognition in the following ways

  • Activity choice
  • Goal setting
  • Effort & persistence
  • Learning & Achievement


Educating by watching may be very effective. Instructional approaches, including those with incentives and punishments, tend to come to mind when we discuss education. However, our education is acquired more covertly by observing others around each other and emulating their conduct.

Updated on: 14-Dec-2022


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