This paper will attempt to draft differences between social cognitive theory and behaviourism. I will summarize each theory in the opening section of this paper and then offer a conclusion that will offer my personal opinion. I must admit that I wasn’t aware that the various learning models are theories associated with learning or human development. Nevertheless, I found the readings at some points confusing, fascinating and thought-provoking.
The fundamental challenge in this assignment, I believe, was to determine the difference or differences between the social cognitive theory and the theory of behaviorism. For any difference to be determined, one must first present the current theories. The social cognitive theory, according to my readings, is an extension of behaviorism. But, before I explain the extension portion of this statement, please allow me to offer a summary of the social cognitive theory. Social cognitive theory is a learning theory based upon the notion that people learn by watching other people and that the human thought process is essential to understanding our personalities.
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Moreover, it juxtaposes that people behave in a specific way to achieve goals. In this model, behavior is self-directed and is not directed by any other factors. Central to this theory is that the mind is the central component that directs and controls behaviors. Upon reading my readings of social cognitive theory, I discovered that it is nearly impossible to read anything regarding learning theories or social cognitive theory without reading about “behaviorism.” Although, as I mentioned earlier in this paper, the social cognitive theory was an extension of behaviorism, the two have close similarities.
Although they have similarities, I have interpreted on significant differences that I will discuss in the conclusion of this paper. However, let us examine the fundamental concept of behavior theory. Behavior theory centers upon the idea that behaviors can be observed and measured. After reading this statement, I was immediately surprised to read further about the connection of behaviorism to Pavlov’s experiments and what connection it had to behaviorism. I remembered learning this theory in middle school and learned of it throughout my college learning experiences.
The experiment involved a dog, food and a bell. The scientist Pavlov used the bell to stimulate the dog’s need to feed. When the bell was rung, the dog would begin to drool and desire food. How then does this apply to humans, and are we not different from the animals, or are we? This began to pique my interest, as I was interested in discovering how this applies to learning first; however, I must finish my summary of behaviorism for all practical purposes. Behaviorism focuses on a repetitious pattern of behavior until that behavior becomes automatic.
In conclusion, I have discovered one significant difference between social cognitive theory and behaviorism. The difference is the environment. Behaviourists believe that the environment helps determine behavior, while social cognitive theory suggests that behavior is self-directed or determined in the mind. I cannot say that I completely understand these concepts, but I am interested in learning more. I find myself pondering further questions that I don’t regularly think about. For instance, I was a former juvenile parole officer in the state of New Jersey. I was often granted the honor of meeting some pretty notable survivors. Some of the children I met were on parole, and some were not.
However, they all shared one common factor, the environment in which they grew up. The environment at times was dangerous, hostile, and violent and most often hopeless. Some of the children went off to college, a few backs to jail, and a few remained in their communities to never do anything with their lives. A behaviorist approach would explain something about these children’s future, but not all. Some, despite their environment, beat the odds. A social cognitive theory would explain a small portion, as some were brilliant yet had no desire to change their lives. I am sure there is more to learn, and I am eager to learn more to begin to answer some questions that this assignment invoked.
- Retrieved January 9, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_cognitive_theory
- Retrieved January 9, 2008, from http://chcr.umich.edu/how_we_do_it/health_theories/healththeories4/chcr_document_view
- Retrieved January 9, 2008, from http://www.istheory.yorku.ca/socialcognitivetheory.htm