Social Cognitive Learning Perspective
To understand the vary nature and components involved in Learning a
behavior pattern especially ‘human complex mode of response’ is a hard task to
grasp, and it has become critically important to explore phenomena that causes a
person to act in its own unique way and constitute a distinctive pattern of
PERSONALITY. Social Cognitive perspective contributes to Personality theories
by concentrating on key components in determining behavior. i.e.
Environmental or situational variables.
We can say that, the contemporary version of social learning theory
stresses the importance of cognition, behavior and environment in determining
Origin of Cognitive Social Learning Theory
Social Learning Theory was spawned in the early 1940’s when John
Dollard and Neal Miller(1950) tried to couple behaviorism and psychoanalytic
theory. The coupling was not successful, because the fuzziness of many
psychoanalytic concepts made it virtually impossible to anchor them in the
empirical observational methodology of behaviorism.
George Kelly(1955) also introduced ”Personal Construct theory”. Where
as Arthur Staats(1975,1981,1996)gave his theory of “social behaviorism”. He
was among the first to describe how internal concepts ,and self concepts could
be developed and changed through same conditioning principles.
More contemporary approaches in cognitive social learning theory are
Albert Bandura; Social Cognitive learning Theory(Self Efficacy theory)
Walter Mischel; Cognitive Social Learning Theory(Reconceptualization)
Julian Rotter; Cognitive Social Learning Theory(Expectancy/Locus of
Walter Mischel’s Cognitive Social Learning
Walter Mischel was ,the second son of upper middle class parents,was
born on February 22,1930, in Vienna. He grew up in a pleasant environment
only a short distance from Freud’s home.The tranquility was shattered when
Nazis invaded Austria in 1938.Mischel’s family fled to united States, eventually
settled in Brooklyn in 1940,where he completed his school and college years.
later he studied under George Kelly and Julian Rotter at Ohio State University,
and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1956. Mischel taught at
the University of Colorado from 1956 to 1958, then at Harvard University from
1958 to 1962, and also at Stanford University from 1962 to 1983. Since 1983,
Mischel has been in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University,
where he is currently the Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters.
Contribution in Personality Psychology
Walter Mischel(1968) in his classic monograph”Personality and
assessment” Criticized “trait theory” explanation of behavior and explained
that empirical data suggests much variability in behavior.He argued that
traits are weak predictors of performance in a variety of situations. He
called his” Re conceptualized” view as META theory,which has bridged
competing approaches as two sides of one system.
Trait situation interaction
This view suggests that behavior is not caused by global personal traits
but by people’s perception of themselves in a particular situation. Mischel said
that personality often changes according to a given situation. For example
suppose we want to assess the happiness of Jamal ,an introvert, and Maria ,an
extrovert. According to trait-situation interaction ,we can not predict who will be
happier unless we know some thing about the situations they are in.Jamal may
become happy while in the Library where as Maria is happier in the Party.
Mischel view was called situationism.Today ,most psychologists in the
field of personality including Mischel are,Interactionists.i.e behavior is the out
come of both Trait and situation.
Cognitive-affective Personality System ( CAPS)
Mischel dealt with ‘Personality Paradox” by devising a reconciliation
Unified approach to personality theory. He integrated dispositions and
processing dynamics with in ‘cognitive affective processing system’. He gave
the idea that a person’s behavior will change from situation to situation but in a
meaningful manner.(Mischel,1999;Mischel& Shoda,1995,1998,1999).
Mischel’s analysis revealed that the individual’s behavior, when closely
examined, was highly dependent upon situational cues,and the consistencies
that characterize an individual are found in distinctive, stable, contextualized
psychologically meaningful and informative IF ~THEN ,relationships called to be
Behavioral Signatures of that person.(Mischel,2004).
She does A when X
B when Y
In a re analysis by Mischel and shoda (1995) “Self Perceived
consistency” behavioral signatures in personality were studied.
Cognitive Affective Units
Mischel proposed a set of five overlapping personal variables that interact
with the situation to determine behavior. These units include all those
psychological, social, and physiological aspects of people that cause them to
interact with their environment with a relatively stable pattern of variation.
These units include people’s
1-Encoding strategies People’s ways of categorizing information received
from external stimuli. Different people encode the same events in different ways.
For example, one person may react angrily when insulted, whereas another may
choose to ignore the same insult.
2-Competencies and Self regulatory Strategies People’s beliefs in what they
can do. People acquire a set of beliefs about their performance and ,capabilities,
often in the absence of actual performance. For example, an out standing
student may believe that he has competence to do well on th Graduate Record
Exam(Gre) even though he has never taken that test.
Mischel holds the view that, People use self Regularity Strategies to
control their own behavior through self imposed goals and self produced
consequences. However, inappropriate goals and ineffective strategies increase
anxiety and lead to failure.
3-Expectancies and Beliefs the perceived consequences of their actions.
Stimulus –outcome expectancy refer to predict, what event are likely to occur
following certain stimuli.Expectencies are not constant and keep on changing.
4-Goals an Values People do not react passively to situations but are active
and goal directed.Values ,Goals, and Interests,along with competencies are
among the most stable Cognitive affective Units. For example Patriotic values
may last a life time, because they are associated with positive emotions such as
security,attachment to one’s mother,and home.
5-Affective Responses includes feelings and emotions as well as the affects
that accompany physiological reactions.
All these Cognitive Affective representations interact dynamically and
influence each other reciprocally.(Mischel and shoda,1995,p 253).
Demonstration with related Research
The Marsh Mallow Experiments
An Analysis of Reaction to the O.J Simpson Verdict
The Marsh Mallow experiments
Mischel(1960-1970’s) pioneered work to study the ability of pre-schoolers
to defer immediate gratification and exert self control for a delayed reward,in the
face of strong situational pressures and emotionally hot temptations. Continuing
research with these original participants has examined how pre-schoolers delay
of gratification ability links to development over life course.Those kids who were
able to exert “self control” showed better , Sat scores, social cognitive
competence, educational attainment, and had significant protective effects
against a variety of potential vulnerabilities in latter life.
An Analysis of Reactions to the O.J Simpson verdict
Investigators selected 113 culturally diverse participants, nearly all of
whom were students of Columbia University ,NewYork , about one third of them
were African American,30% were European Americans,10% Latinos,22% either
Asians or Asian Americans,and the reminder holds no specific ethnic back
ground. Participants were asked to listen to 18 short clips from TV reports,about
the trial. After watching clips ,participants were asked to write down their
reactions to the verdict, and to specify whether they agree, disagree, or
ambivalent about the verdict. Judges then identified 22 cognitive affective units
and 7 emotional reactions. The results of this study suggest that a system that
considers a set of cognitive affective units is a better predictor of people’s
reactions to racially sensitive issues than is ethnic back ground.(Rodolfo
Mendoza Denton,Ozlem Ayduk,yuichi Shoda,and walter Mischel,1997).
Julian Rotter; Cognitive Social Learning Theory
(Expectancy/Locus of Control Theory)
Julian Rotter was born in Brooklyn,New york, on October 22,1916, third
among siblings. Rotter's father ran a successful business until the Great
Depression. The Depression powerfully influenced Rotter to be aware of social
injustice and the effects of the situational environment on people. Rotter's interest
in psychology began when he was in high school and read books by Freud and
Adler. Rotter attended Brooklyn College, where he began attending seminars
given by Adler and meetings of his Society of Individual Psychology in Adler's
home. In 1939, Rotter became one of the very first clinical psychologists trained
in what is now the traditional mode started his Ph.D. work at Indiana University
in 1963, Rotter left Ohio State to become the director of the clinical psychology
training program at the University of Connecticut.He has won various prestigious
awards, and positions from various organizations.
Introduction to Rotter’s Social Learning Theory
Social Learning Theory rests on five basic assumptions
.It assumes that humans interact with their meaningful environment.
.Human personality is learned.
.Personality has a basic unity.
.Motivation is goal directed.
.People are capable of anticipating events.
He suggested four variables that must be analyzed in order to make
accurate predictions in any specific situation.
Behavior Potential (BP)
Behavior potential is the likelihood of engaging in a particular behavior in
a specific situation. In other words, what is the probability that the person will
exhibit a particular behavior in a situation? In any given situation, there are
multiple behaviors one can engage in. For each possible behavior, there is a
behavior potential. The individual will exhibit whichever behavior has the highest
Expectancy is the subjective probability that a given behavior will lead to
a particular outcome. Expectancies may be general or specific, total expectancy
of success is a function of both one’s generalized expectancy and one’s specific
Reinforcement Value (RV)
Reinforcement value refers to the desirability of these outcomes. Things
we don't want to happen, that we wish to avoid, have a low reinforcement value.
If the likelihood of achieving reinforcement is the same, we will exhibit the
behavior with the greatest reinforcement value (i.e., the one directed toward the
outcome we prefer most).Reinforcement may be either Internal or External
which can either be in harmony or at variance with each other. Our needs and
goals also anticipate our reinforcement value.
The least amount of reinforcement that still has a positive value is known
as the minimal goal. If people achieve an outcome that equals or exceeds their
minimal goal, they will feel that they have succeeded. When the level of
reinforcement falls below an individual's minimal goal, that reinforcement feels
like failure. People differ in their minimal goals. Thus, the same outcome may
represent success to one person (with a lower minimal goal) while it feels like
failure to another person (with a higher minimal goal).
Predictive Formula. Behavior Potential (BP), Expectancy (E) and
Reinforcement Value (RV) can be combined into a predictive formula for
BP = f(E & RV)
This formula can be read as follows: behavior potential is a function of
expectancy and reinforcement value. Or, in other words, the likelihood of a
person's exhibiting a particular behavior is a function of the probability that
behavior will lead to a given outcome and the desirability of that outcome. If
expectancy and reinforcement value are both high, then behavior potential will be
high. If either expectancy or reinforcement value is low, then behavior potential
will be lower.
, Rotter believes that it is always important to keep in mind that different
people interpret the same situation differently. Again, it is people's subjective
interpretation of the environment, rather than an objective array of stimuli, that is
meaningful to them and that determines how they behave.
For example, knowing that someone is a generally hostile person allows
us to make predictions that this individual will be hostile toward a range of
people. Across situations, this person is likely to be more hostile to others than
someone who is low in hostility. On the other hand, if we know that this person
hates Jane, we can predict with a high level of accuracy that this person will be
hostile toward Jane. But, we will not be able to predict how this person will treat
Concept of Need
Rotter and Hochreich(1975) listed six broad categories of needs, with
each category representing a group of functionally related behaviors,that lead to
same or similar reinforcement.
Recognition-Status The need to be recognized by others and to achieve
status .It also include socioeconomic status and personal prestige.
Dominance The need to control the behavior of others. For example, talking to
colleagues into accepting your ideas.
Independence The need to be free of the domination of others.
Protection-dependency The need to have others taking care of you.For
example, asking your spouse to stay in home while you are sick.
Love and Affection The need for securing friendly regards,interest and devotion
Physical comfort The need for securing food, good health, and physical
A need complex has three essential components
Need potential (NP)
Freedom of Movement(FM)
Need potential (NP) is analogous to Behavior Potential,The difference is that ,
need potential refers to a group of functionally related behaviors.For example,
people eating in a fancy restaurant,one person may be satisfying the need for
physical comfort i.e Food, where as another for recognition of status.
Freedom of Movement(FM)is analogous to Expectency.It is overall expectations
of being reinforced for performing those behaviors that are directed towards
satisfying some general needs.
Need Value(NV) is the degree to which a person prefers one set of
reinforcements to another.
To make a generalized prediction regarding a set of behavior,Rotter introduced
the general prediction formula
Locus of control ( locus Latin for "place" or "location")
Locus of control refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they
can control events that affect them. Understanding of the concept was developed
by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an important aspect of
Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events result
primarily from their own behavior and actions. Those with a low internal locus
of control believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine
Internal Locus of Control ;Typical expectancy shifts, believing that a success
or failure would be followed by a similar outcome; and
External Locus of Control ; Atypical expectancy shifts, believing that a
success or failure would be followed by a dissimilar outcome.
Locus of control personality orientations
Rotter (1975) cautioned that internality and externality represent two ends
of a continuum, not an either/or typology. Internals tend to attribute outcomes of
events to their own control. Externals attribute outcomes of events to external
circumstances. For example, college students with a strong internal locus of
control may believe that their grades were achieved through their own abilities
and efforts, whereas those with a strong external locus of control may believe
that their grades are the result of good or bad luck, or to a professor who designs
bad tests or grades capriciously; hence, they are less likely to expect that their
own efforts will result in success and are therefore less likely to work hard for
Scales to measure locus of control
Rotter developed the Internal/ External(I-E) Control scale to assess
the extent to which people believe that chance, luck or powerful others
control their lives. The most famous questionnaire to measure locus of
1-Rotter’s interpersonal trust Scale.(1967).
the 23-item forced choice items and six filler items scale of Rotter (1966).
2-Rotter's work by five years is Bialer's (1961) 23-item scale for children.
3-Crandall Intellectual Ascription of Responsibility Scale (Crandall, 1965), and
the Nowicki-Strickland Scale.
4-Stanford Preschool Internal-External Control Index, which is used for three- to
5-Rotter’s Internal External Control Scale.(1966).
(A hand book of personality;Theory and Research .By Oliver P. John, Richard
W. Robins, Lawrence A. Pervin. )
Usefulness of Theory in Public Health
The SCT has been used to study a wide range of health problems, from
medical therapy compliance, to alcohol abuse, to immunizations. One particularly
fruitful area of investigation to which the SCT has been employed is the study of
moral and value internalization among children. In fact, it has been argued that
the greatest contribution of the SCT is its aid in understanding how children are
socialized to accept the standards and values of their society (Johnston et.al,
1997). Indeed, this is a topic to which Bandura himself devoted extensive
research efforts (Bandura and McDonald, 1963; Bandura, 1989;1991; Bandura
and Jordan, 1991).
A number of SCT techniques are currently used in interventions:
• Skill Training (reasoning) - psycho motor and social skills (refusal skills)
- behavioral rehearsal
• Self-Monitoring - a contract with oneself
• Contracting - contracting with others; a reward may be involved; specific
behaviors; goals; signatures
• Rotter’therapy aims at bringing Freedom of Movement and Need Value in
to harmony,thus reducing defensive and avoidance behavior
• Rotter focused on High or Low expectancies,that are Maladaptive.
Demonstration with related Research
1-In one study participants were classified in to one of fourgroups(a)neither they
nor their parents were alcoholics.(b)only a parent was alcoholic(c)they were
alcoholic but neither parent was.(d)both they and a parent were alcoholic.A
strong Linear relationship between external scores on the DRIE and degree of
self and/or parental alcoholism was found,suggesting some usefulness of the
DRIE in predicting people’s control over their drinking behavior.(Lisa
Clements,ReginaldYork,and Glenn Rohrer 1995).
2-Some researchers have looked at the usefulness of habit specific locus of
control scales for drinking, smoking, eating and then administered these scales
along with Rotter’s I-E Scale to a group of under graduate students. Participants
with high internal locus also had high scores on measures of coping and
adjustments. Where as those with high External scores had more habit
disorders. Lowest correlations were for the drinking scale suggesting that these
students believed that they had more control over their drinking habit
(H.A.Ludtke and H.G.Schneider 1996).
3-In a study involving nearly 12,000 participants in the Health in Wales survey
found support for hypothesis that scores on a multidimensional health locus of
control scale is significantly related to various health behaviors.Thier findings
support the notion that people who have internal locus of control tend to have
higher levels of health than do people who believe that their own health is
dependent on chance or the actions of other people.(Paul Norman,Paul
Bennett,Christopher Smith,and simon Murphy 1998).
Critical Evaluation of Cognitive Social Learning Theory
1-Cognitive Social Learning is attractive to those who Value that people
are forward looking,Cognitive beings.
2-These theories have generated a large amount of reseach topics in
3-The empirical nature of theory makes it expose to falsification or
4-The theory's comprehensiveness and complexity make it difficult to
5-Many applications of the SCT focus on one or two constructs, such as
self-efficacy, while ignoring the others.
6-Bandura’s SCT carefully fullfil criteria of a sound theory,by internally
(Mischel W. (1968) Personality and Assessment. New York: Wiley.
Mischel W. (1973) Towards a cognitive, social learning reconception of
personality. Psychological Review, 80: 252-283).