Social cognitive theory refers to a psychological model of behavior that emerged primarily from the work of Albert Bandura (1977; 1986). Initially developed with an emphasis on the acquisition of social behaviors, SCT continues to emphasize that learning occurs in a social context and that much of what is learned is gained through observation. SCT has been applied broadly to such diverse areas of human functioning as career choice, organizational behavior, athletics, and mental and physical health. SCT also has been applied extensively by those interested in understanding classroom motivation, learning, and achievement (Pajares, 1996; Schunk & Zimmerman, 1994; 1998).
Social cognitive theory rests on several basic assumptions about learning and behavior. One assumption is the view that personal, behavioral, and environmental factors influence one another in a bidirectional, reciprocal fashion. That is, a person's on-going functioning is a product of a continuous interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and contextual factors. For instance, classroom learning is shaped by factors within the academic environment, especially the reinforcements experienced by oneself and by others. At the same time, learning is affected by students' own thoughts and self-beliefs and their interpretation of the classroom context.
A closely related assumption within SCT is that people have an agency or ability to influence their own behavior and the environment in a purposeful, goal-directed fashion (Bandura, 2001). This belief conflicts with earlier forms of behaviorism that advocated a more rigorous form of environmental determinism. SCT does not deny the importance of the environment in determining behavior, but it does argue that people can also, through forethought, self-reflection, and self-regulatory processes, exert substantial influence over their own outcomes and the environment more broadly.
My habits that I have analyzed are the sucking of my finger, due to this habit I...