Bandura, Albert 1925-
Considered by some to be the father of behavioral psychology, Albert Bandura was born on December 4, 1925, in Mundare, a small town in Alberta, Canada. As a teenager, Bandura decided to take a psychology course to fill a space in his high school schedule. The result was a love for the subject that extended through his college years. He received his PhD in 1952 from the University of Iowa.
Promoted to full professor at Stanford University in 1964, Bandura often attributed his motivation for research to his collaborations with researchers such as Jack Barchas and Craig Barr Taylor. The joint research allowed them to combine different expertise and laboratory resources. One outcome of these research efforts was the finding that people regulate their level of physiological arousal (i.e., hormonal release) through their belief in selfefficacy. Bandura’s contributions to personality theory and therapy incorporated a three-way interaction between the environment, behavior, and psychological processes at a time when dynamic systems theory had yet to be defined. Bandura focused on observational learning, or modeling, and he showed that children learn behavior through watching others. His most famous study, known as the Bobo dolls study, established that children do not need punishment or reward to learn. With his then doctoral student Richard Walters, Bandura found that hyperaggressive adolescents often had parents who modeled hostile attitudes; the results led to Bandura’s first book, Adolescent Development (1959).
Bandura’s decision to relabel his theoretical approach from social learning to social cognition was due to his growing belief that the breadth of his theorizing and research had expanded beyond the scope of the social learning label. Bandura presented a social cognitive vision of the origins of human thought and action and the influential role of self-referential processes to motivation, affect, and action. He depicted people as self-organizing, proactive, self-reflective, and self-regulative in thought and action, rather than as merely reactive to social environmental or inner cognitive-affective forces. A major focus of Bandura’s theorizing addressed the extraordinary ability of humans to use imagery and symbolism. Drawing on their symbolic capabilities, people can comprehend their environment, construct guides for action, solve problems cognitively, support forethoughtful courses of action, gain new knowledge by reflective thought, and communicate with others at any distance in time and space. By symbolizing their experiences, people give structure, meaning, and continuity to their lives.
A further distinctive feature of social cognitive theory that Bandura singles out for special attention is the capacity for self-directedness as well as forethought. People plan courses of action, anticipate their likely consequences, and set goals and challenges for themselves to motivate, guide, and regulate their activities. The focus that Bandura gave to self-efficacy brought the term into mainstream conversation. Social learning theory is a general theory of human behavior, but Bandura and people concerned with mass communication have used it specifically to explain media effects. Bandura warned that children and adults acquire attitudes, emotional responses, and new styles of conduct through filmed and televised modeling. Bandura’s warning struck a responsive chord in parents and educators who feared that escalating violence on television and other forms of media would transform children into bullies. Although Bandura does not think this will happen without the tacit approval of those who supervise the children, he regards anxiety over televised violence as legitimate. That stance caused him to be blackballed by network officials from taking part in the 1972 Surgeon General’s Report on Violence. The psychologist Kevin Durkin, who reviewed the research on violent video games in 1995, reported that studies had found “either no or minimal effects.” Indeed, he added, “some very tentative evidence indicates that aggressive game play may be cathartic (promote the release of aggressive tensions) for some individuals” (Durkin 1995, p. 2). Durkin and Kate Aisbett reported in a 1999 follow-up survey that “early fears of pervasively negative effects” from video games “are not supported”; “several well designed studies conducted by proponents of the theory that computer games would promote aggression in the young have found no such effects” (Durkin and Aisbett 1999, p. 3). These findings were echoed by other scholars.
To combat public policy problems, Bandura presided over the founding of the Association for the Advancement of Psychology as an advocacy group for promoting the influence of psychology in public policy initiatives and congressional legislation. He was elected to the presidencies of the American Psychological Association in 1974 and the Western Psychological Association in 1981. He was also appointed honorary president of the Canadian Psychological Association. In August 1999 Bandura received the Thorndike Award for Distinguished Contributions of Psychology to Education from the American Psychological Association (APA). In 2001 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy. In August 2004 he received the APA’s Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology Award. He has written seven books and edited two others, which have been translated into numerous languages.
SEE ALSO Social Learning Perspective
Durkin, Kevin. 1995. Computer Games: Their Effects on Young People. Sidney: Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification.
Durkin, Kevin, and Kate Aisbett. 1999. Computer Games and Australians Today. Sidney: Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification.
Loftus, Elizabeth. A Life in Memory. In History of Psychology in Autobiography, ed. Garnder Lindzey and William Runyan. Vol. 9. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Pajares, Frank. 2004. Albert Bandura: Biographical Sketch. http://des.emory.edu/mfp/bandurabio.html.
Zimmerman, Barry, and Dale Schunk. 2002. Albert Bandura: The Man and His Ideas. In Educational Psychology: A Century of Contributions. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Sarah Holland Brown-Omar
"Bandura, Albert." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/bandura-albert
"Bandura, Albert." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved December 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/bandura-albert
American psychologist whose work is concentrated in the area of social learning theory.
Albert Bandura was born in the province of Alberta, Canada, and received his B.A. from the University of British Columbia. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa, focusing on social learning theories in his studies with Kenneth Spence and Robert Sears. Graduating in 1952, Bandura completed a one-year internship at the Wichita Guidance Center before accepting an appointment to the department of psychology at Stanford University, where he has remained throughout his career. In opposition to more radical behaviorists, Bandura considers cognitive factors as causal agents in human behavior. His area of research, social cognitive theory, is concerned with the interaction between cognition , behavior, and the environment .
Much of Bandura's work has focused on the acquisition and modification of personality traits in children, particularly as they are affected by observational learning, or modeling , which, he argues, plays a highly significant role in the determination of subsequent behavior. While it is common knowledge that children learn by imitating others, little formal research was done on this subject before Neal Miller and John Dollard published Social Learning and Imitation in 1941. Bandura has been the single figure most responsible for building a solid empirical foundation for the concept of learning through modeling, or imitation . His work, focusing particularly on the nature of aggression , suggests that modeling plays a highly significant role in determining thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Bandura claims that practically anything that can be learned by direct experience can also be learned by modeling. Moreover, learning by modeling will occur although neither the observer nor the model is rewarded for performing a particular action, in contrast
to the behaviorist learning methods of Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner , with their focus on learning through conditioning and reinforcement . However, it has been demonstrated that punishment and reward can have an effect on the modeling situation. A child will more readily imitate a model who is being rewarded for an act than one who is being punished. Thus, the child can learn without actually being rewarded or punished himself—a concept known as vicarious learning. Similarly, Bandura has shown that when a model is exposed to stimuli intended to have a conditioning effect, a person who simply observes this process, even without participating in it directly, will tend to become conditioned by the stimuli as well.
Based on his research, Bandura has developed modeling as a therapeutic device. The patient is encouraged to modify his or her behavior by identifying with and imitating the behavior of the therapist. Although modeling was first studied in relation to children, it has been found to be effective in treating phobias in adults as well. The patient watches a model in contact with a feared object, at first under relatively non-threatening conditions. The patient is encouraged to perform the same actions as the model, and the situation is gradually made more threatening until the patient is able to confront the feared object or experience on his or her own.
Bandura has also focused on the human capacity for symbolization, which can be considered a type of inverse modeling. Using their symbolic capacities, people construct internal models of the world which provide an arena for planning, problem-solving, and reflection and can even facilitate communication with others. Another area of social cognition theory explored by Bandura is self-regulatory activity, or the ways in which internal standards affect motivation and actions. He has studied the effects of beliefs people have about themselves on their thoughts, choices, motivation levels, perseverance, and susceptibility to stress and depression . Bandura is the author of many books, including Adolescent Aggression (1959), Social Learning and Personality (1963), Principles of Behavior Modification (1969), Aggression (1973), Social Learning Theory (1977), and Social Foundations of Thought and Action (1985).
See also Modeling
Decker, Philip J. Behavior Modeling Training. New York: Praeger, 1985.
"Bandura, Albert." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bandura-albert
"Bandura, Albert." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. . Retrieved December 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bandura-albert