Social Learning Theory Gender Development

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Social Learning Theory John Riley UMUC Social Learning Theory on Gender Development Explanation The Social Learning Theory (SLT) is most frequently related with Albert Bandura’s works. Bandura was a professor at Stanford who saw boundaries in the learning theory of behaviorism. He incorporated philosophies of the cognitive and behavioral learning theories (Grusec, 1992) as well as created the Social Learning Theory. SLT suggests that gender identity and role are sets of behaviors obtained through observational learning and vicarious reinforcement. He created case studies involving individuals, children in particular, who observed the environment around them. They saw and encode people’s (models) behaviors, with some of them relating…show more content…
Bandura’s Social Learning Theory demonstrates “how children are socialized to accept the standards and values of their society.” (Grusec, 1992, p. 785). While Bandura’s empirical contribution to our understanding of human development is extremely significant, there are not only strengths, but also weaknesses associated with SLT. I see it as a clear strength that the social learning theory has been well researched, documented and can be clearly observed in a scientific and objective mater. Bandura’s studies (1961, 1971), amongst others, clearly show the process of children learning through observation and imitating the behavior of their models. Being a mother of two sons and teaching kindergarten children, I witness children’s observational learning on a daily base. My three year old son, for instance, imitates nearly everything he observes in his brother. From the sports he tries to play, to the icons he talks about, and the food he likes and dislikes, everything is in accordance with his model. Another strength of SLT is its easy understandability; not only professionals of the field are able to understand and relate to the research, but also everyone else. Weaknesses include the fact that biological differences are not being taken into consideration and that the theory is lacking attention to the developmental changes occurring due to growing age and increasing maturity (Grusec, 1992). Additionally, SLT fails to explain gender untypical behaviors and behavioral differences. For instance, why does a girl from a very calm and peaceful family display aggressive behavior even though she didn’t observe it in her in immediate surroundings nor on television? Conclusively, the Social Learning Theory deserves great recognition as it provides a detailed explanation of human behaviors and learning processes, including those regarding the development of

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