Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

How would you compare and contrast behaviorism and social learning theory?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Behaviorism and social learning are two theories about how people learn. Since the originator of social learning, Albert Bandura, was a behaviorist by nature, there are similarities that exist between the two theories. In both theories, experience is an important cause of learning, as is immediate feedback. Both theories also...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Behaviorism and social learning are two theories about how people learn. Since the originator of social learning, Albert Bandura, was a behaviorist by nature, there are similarities that exist between the two theories. In both theories, experience is an important cause of learning, as is immediate feedback. Both theories also believe in systems of reinforcement and punishment as factors in learning.

Despite these similarities in how the theories view the learning process, there are differences as well. Those who advocate for social learning believe knowledge is an internal process and is not observed as a change in behavior. Behaviorists believe learning can be watched and studied — in other words, it can be observed.

Another important difference between the two theories is the relationship between learning and the environment. Social learning theorists believe the two affect one another, but in behaviorism, the learner is a passive force and only responds to the environment without also affecting the learning environment. There are also significant differences between the two theories in how punishment and reinforcement impact learning.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team