Observational Learning

Children often imitate their parents' behaviors.


Application of Observational Learning

Another example of modeling for violent behavior occurs when parents say one thing but do another. For example, parents may tell older children that they may not hit a younger sibling. When they do, however, the parents spank the older children. Children detect a mixed message, namely, that violence is acceptable under certain circumstances, and their violent behavior may not be decreased by their parents' punishment. A similar pattern of abuse may explain the cycle of child abuse. Most child abusers were themselves abused children. Child abusers learned from their parents and are teaching their children to be abusers also.

Still another example is seen in an old public service television commercial. A father and son are enjoying a day at the park. The son is imitating everything his father does, such as throwing rocks into a pond. They sit with their backs to a tree, and the father lights up a cigarette. The ad ends with the child reaching for the cigarettes.