Observational Learning

Albert Bandura is most widely known for his work with observational learning.


According to W. Huitt and J. Hummel (1997), Observational or Vicarious Learning is based primarily on the work of Albert Bandura. Bandura and his colleagues were able to demonstrate through a variety of experiments that the application of consequences was not imperative for learning to take place. Rather learning could occur through the simple processes of observing someone else's activity. This work provided the foundation for Bandura's later work in social cognition. Bandura formulated his findings in a four-step pattern which combines a cognitive view and an operant view of learning.

  1. Attention -- the individual notices something in the environment.
  2. Retention -- the individual remembers what was noticed
  3. Reproduction -- the individual produces an action that is a copy of what was noticed.
  4. Motivation -- the environment delivers a consequence that changes the probability the behavior will be emitted again (reinforcement and punishment) Huitt & Hummel, 1997).