Social-Cognitive Learning Theory:
From Miller to Bandura and Beyond
The Social-Cognitive learning theory is based off a collaboration of many psychologists work and ideas, it is based on the concepts that we learn (and gain our personalities) by watching how others react to their environment. The original concept originated from psychologists N.E Miller and J. Dollard in the early 1940’s. In the mid 1950’s American psychologist Julian Rotter drifted from the theories of psychoanalysis and behaviourism and wrote on social learning theories. In the 1960’s a Canadian psychologist, Albert Bandura, expanded on theories and became the leading architect of social cognitive theory (Santrock, 2011, p. 27).
In 1941 N.E Miller and associate J. Dollard proposed that one could learn a behavior by observing that behavior in others. They called this theory social learning. The social learning theory of Miller and Dollard also stated that “by imitating these observed actions the individual observer would solidify that learned action and would be rewarded with positive reinforcement.”(Green) Loosely translated this means that if we ape the actions of those around us they will reward us for such actions.
In 1954 Julian Rotter broke away from the then popular instinct based psychoanalysis and drive based behaviorism theories. Rotter believed that a psychological theory should have a psychological motivational principal, and that people were motivated to seek out positive reinforcement or stimulus and to avoid the negative of either. (Mearns). His publication Social Learning in Clinical Society (1954) integrated the concepts of this learning theory with the personality theory. Overall Rotter’s social learning theory suggests that behavior is influenced by social context or environmental factors, and not psychological factors alone.
In the 1960’s Albert Bandura expanded on the ideas of Miller, Dollard and Rotter to come up with what is now known as The Social-Cognitive...