Forensic Psychology (PSY - 513)
SOCIAL LEARNING MODEL AND VIOLENCE
To understand the basic concepts involved tin the Social learning theory
To understand the learning of aggression by imitation
To understand the concepts of vicarious reinforcement and vicarious punishment
To understand the Humanistic Perspective about violence
Albert Bandura is considered the leading proponent of Social Learning theory. Albert Bandura argued
that although learning takes place through reinforcement and punishment but another phenomenon,
ignored by behaviorists is Social learning. Social learning theory focuses on the learning that occurs
within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another, including such concepts as:
Social learning theory and criminal behavior
The social learning theory is the behavior theory most relevant to criminology. Albert Bandura believed
that aggression is learned through a process called behavior modeling. He believed that individuals do
not actually inherit violent tendencies, but they modeled them after three principles (Bandura, 1976:
Albert Bandura argued that individuals, especially children learn aggressive responses from observing
others, either personally or through the media and environment. He stated that many individuals
believed that aggression will produce reinforcements. These reinforcements can formulate into
reduction of tension, gaining financial rewards, or gaining the praise of others, or building self- esteem.
Among others General principles of social learning theory follows:
1. People can learn by observing the behavior of others and the outcomes of those behaviors.
2. Learning can occur without a change in behavior. Behaviorists say that learning has to be
represented by a permanent change in behavior; in contrast social learning theorists say that
because people can learn through observation alone, their learning may not necessarily be
shown in their performance. Learning may or may not result in a behavior change.
3. Cognition plays a role in learning. Over the last 30 years social learning theory has become
increasingly cognitive in its interpretation of human learning. Awareness and expectations of
future reinforcements or punishments can have a major effect on the behaviors that people
4. Social learning theory can be considered a bridge or a transition between behaviorist learning
theories and cognitive learning theories.
Models that people imitate take a wide variety of forms. A student may imitate another student, a
teacher, a parent, a sports celebrity, a movie star, a cartoon character, a fictional character in a
novel, a person demonstrating a skill in an educational film - anyone performing a behavior that can
be observed (even in the observer's imagination) can qualify as a model.
Forensic Psychology (PSY - 513)
It is also important to note that the behavior to be imitated takes shape within the mind of the
observer. This means that if the observer thinks the model has been reinforced for performing a
behavior, then the observer is likely to imitate that behavior - even if the model did not really
perform that behavior or even if the model himself perceived the consequences to be unpleasant
rather than pleasant.
It is even possible to have people serve as models for themselves. For example, a teacher could view a
videotape of her own performance in the classroom. If her performance contained errors, feedback from
a knowledgeable colleague could enable her to visualize how she would do a better job next time.
Athletes often use tapes of themselves during good times to teach themselves ways to improve during a
slump in their performance.
Factors of modeling
Bandura mentions four conditions that are necessary before an individual can successfully model the
behavior of someone else:
1. Attention: the person must first pay attention to the model.
2. Retention: the observer must be able to remember the behavior that has been observed. One way of
increasing this is using the technique of rehearsal.
3. Motor reproduction: the third condition is the ability to replicate the behavior that the model has
just demonstrated. This means that the observer has to be able to replicate the action, which could be a
problem with a learner who is not ready developmentally to replicate the action. For example, little
children have difficulty doing complex physical motion.
4. Motivation: the final necessary ingredient for modeling to occur is motivation; learners must want to
demonstrate what they have learned. Remember that since these four conditions vary among
individuals, different people will reproduce the same behavior differently.
Types of Models
There are different types of models. There is the live model, and actual person demonstrating the
behavior. There can also be a symbolic model, which can be a person or action portrayed in some other
medium, such as television, videotape, computer programs.
Behaviors that can be learned through modeling:
Many behaviors can be learned, at least partly, through modeling. Examples that can be cited are,
students can watch parents read, students can watch the demonstrations of mathematics problems, or
seen someone acting bravely and a fearful situation. Aggression can be learned through models. Many
researches indicate that children become more aggressive when they observed aggressive or violent
models. Moral thinking and moral behavior are influenced by observation and modeling. This includes
moral judgments regarding right and wrong which can in part, develop through modeling. Usually
Bullies belong to aggressive parents and receives physical punishment at home.
Important Factors in Vicarious Learning
There are three major factors that influence the likelihood that vicarious learning will occur:
1. The similarity of the model to the observer
2. The prestige of the model
3. The observability of the behavior to be imitated
An observer is more likely to imitate a model who is perceived as similar to the observer. Similarity
is especially important when observers have little information about the functional value of the modeled
behavior (Bandura, 1986). The degree of similarity, of course, is determined within the mind of the
observer. A young boy who thinks he is similar to Bard Pit is likely to imitate what he sees Bard Pit
doing on television, even if most impartial judges would agree that there is actually not even a remote
Forensic Psychology (PSY - 513)
An observer is more likely to imitate a model who is perceived as prestigious. Again, the degree of
prestige is determined within the mind of the observer. A person who is perceived to be very low in
prestige by a parent or teacher may be viewed as highly prestigious by a young child.
Behaviors that are more easily observed are more easily imitated. Observability can be increased by
such strategies as having the model perform the behavior very deliberately, using slow-motion or
videotaped replays, verbalizing or otherwise focusing attention on behaviors that are difficult to
observe, and pairing written instructions with visually modeled behaviors.
Vicarious learning can take place in two forms:
Consequences of the model's behavior affect the observer's behavior vicariously. This is known as
vicarious reinforcement. This is where in the model is reinforced for a response and then the observer
shows an increase in that same response. Bandura illustrated this by having students watch a film of a
model hitting an inflated clown doll. One group of children saw the model being praised for such action.
Without being reinforced, the group of children began to also hit the doll. People are often reinforced
for modeling the behavior of others. Bandura suggested that the environment also reinforces modeling.
This is in several possible ways:
1. The observer is reinforced by the model. For example a student who changes dress to fit in
with a certain group of students has a strong likelihood of being accepted and thus reinforced by
2. The observer is reinforced by a third person. The observer might be modeling the actions of
someone else, for example, an outstanding class leader or student. The teacher notices this and
compliments and praises the observer for modeling such behavior thus reinforcing that behavior.
3. The imitated behavior itself leads to reinforcing consequences. Many behaviors that we
learn from others produce satisfying or reinforcing results. For example, a student in my
multimedia class could observe how the extra work a classmate does is fun. This student in turn
would do the same extra work and also receive enjoyment.
Theory proposes that both reinforcement and punishment have indirect effects on learning and not only
reinforcement, punishment also influence the extent to which an individual exhibits a behavior that has
been learned. In fact, as we are studying Forensic psychology, concept of vicarious punishment is very
important for us to understand. Vicarious punishment is more effective than direct/physical punishment.
The child who is being beaten, become use to such beatings but the child who is observing this, takes
very serious effect so, vicarious punishment make that child to be far away from doing that thing.
One important thing that was ignored by Bandore is that he did not pay attention to the importance of
BOOKS. While reading a book reader feels the same pain and happiness the characters in book are
The social learning theory advocates that individuals, especially children, imitate or copy modeled
behavior from personally observing others, the environment, and the mass media. Biological theorists
argue that the social learning theory completely ignores individual's biological state. Also, they state
that the social learning theory rejects the differences of individuals due to genetic, brain, and learning
Forensic Psychology (PSY - 513)
For example, if a person witnessed a hanging or a violent murder, he or she might respond in many
different ways. "Biological theorists believed that the responses would be normal and come from the
autonomic nervous system. In the autonomic nervous system, the heart rate, increase blood pressure,
nausea, and fainting would be normal symptoms of the responses that individuals might expressed in
this particular situation. Therefore, the symptoms and behavior are not learned, but partially inherited.
In addition, the social learning theory rejects the classical and operant conditioning processes. The
biological preparedness of the individual to learn as well as the role of the brain in processing
information from the social environment, are critical to learning theory, but they are ignored by the
social learning theory).
HUMANISTIC MODEL AND VIOLENCE
Westerns needed new philosophy after getting far away from churches and religion and that philosophy
was called Humanism. But this philosophy came in to psychology quite late by Carl Rogers, who was a
psychoanalyst, once he decided to honestly listen to his client with full concern and attention for just
first few sessions. So, with out any interpretation he listened to his patient for five sessions and patient
get cured. So that was the turning point for Carl Rogers and he devised a theory that only acceptance
can cure a person, no reinforcement and punishment is effective. It seems effective but was totally
opposing the mechanisms views of behaviorism.
The Humanistic perspective offers a very positive viewpoint of human nature and potential.
Emphasizing the personal worth of each individual, this perspective suggests that we are each
responsible for our own happiness and well-being as humans. We have the innate capacity for self-
actualization which is our unique desire to achieve our highest potential as people. These matters are
often summarized by the five postulates of Humanistic Psychology given by James Bugental (1964),
1. Human beings cannot be reduced to components.
2. Human beings have in them a uniquely human context.
3. Human consciousness includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.
4. Human beings have choices and responsibilities.
5. Human beings are intentional; they seek meaning, value and creativity.
4. All human have natural ability to grow.
5. Man is not basically animal, human natural tendency is towards growth, development and
6. Carl Rogers administered the concepts of reinforcement but opposed the wish of
controlling other people.
Then why we encounter the mental problems?
If all human beings are innately good and have the potential to grow. Then why they resort to violence?
Why they show animalism? Carl Rogers viewed that human encounters mental diseases and resort to
aggression because society blocks an individual from growth and development.
How does one become a person?
1. The individual must make contact with another person
2. The individual develops a need to be loved, referred to as positive regard
3. Finally, the individual then develops a prizing or valuing of one's self called positive self-
Perspective about violence
Society blocks an individual from growing.
Aggression results from this blockage.
Violence is resistance to this blockage.
Violence is also a manifestation of this blockage.
Forensic Psychology (PSY - 513)
Roger viewed that aggression can be a result of this society's blockage and frustration and some time
aggression and violence is showed as a resistance to the hurdles that are being raised by the society.
Another source of aggression could be the manifestation of society's aggression like a person who has
been the target of society's aggression internalize that aggression and manifest that violence to other
people of society.
Perspective about education
Rogers paired up with educationists and took over a school. In that school children were given the
freedom to decide about their curriculum of the year. And they were given the freedom to set targets of
their studies and were allowed to study the subjects of their own choices. In short, they were given the
chance to grow according to the natural potential. It was assumed that such children would grow up to
calm, non violent, gentle and peaceful adults, who would not believe in solving their problems by
aggression, violence and taking away other people's rights. and their experiment was a success. So
Roger's theory not only changed the view of human nature but also contributed to the teaching and
The Client Centered Therapy
Rogers is also regarded as the father of the client centered therapy. He believed that when congruence,
unconditional positive regard, and empathy are present in a relationship, psychological growth will
Empathy means "I can feel what you feel" (Reflection) and is commonly defined as one's ability to
recognize, perceive and directly experientially feel the emotion of another. As the states of mind,
beliefs, and desires of others are intertwined with their emotions, one with empathy for another may
often be able to more effectively define another's modes of thought and mood. Empathy is often
characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes", or experiencing the outlook or emotions
of another being within oneself, a sort of emotional resonance.
Unconditional Positive Regard
"I accept you as you are" (no conditions) I respect you no matter what ever have you done.
Unconditional positive regard encourages the therapist, termed a counselor by Rogers, to treat the client
as worthy and capable, even when the client does not act or feel that way. According to the Rogers's
theory, mental illness is often caused by the absence of love, or by a defective kind of love, that the
client received as a child. By showing the client unconditional positive regard and acceptance, the
therapist is providing the best possible conditions for personal growth to the client.
Unconditional positive regard
To practice unconditional positive regard, while maintaining congruence at all times, the therapist
provides specific feedback. The counselors show and demonstrate their care with their actions. If a
clinician finds it hard to unconditionally regard their patient in a positive light, they need to keep in
mind Rogers' belief that all people have the internal resources required for personal growth.
According to this theory, it is the environment that can make the difference as to whether growth occurs.
A patient's past environment may have been such patterns of behaviors that were developed in order to
survive in that environment. These patterns can become entrenched so that the patient continues to
operate in the world with them even if they are no longer appropriate. It is usually an inappropriate
pattern that makes it hard for the clinician to regard their clients positively. The clinician needs to feel
for the person under those patterns and for the person who was damaged and then survived by adapting
by developing the patterns that are no longer appropriate.
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