Albert Bandura has contributed much to the field of psychology over the last half-century. He continues to teach and conduct research at Stanford University, has received numerous awards and served on multiple boards. Most notably, Bandura developed the social cognitive theory, previously named the social learning theory. Defined as a behaviourist theory, the social cognitive approach actually combines the influence of external factors with cognitive processes.
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Bandura emphasised the importance of social modelling in behaviour. He differentiated modelling from mimicry, with social modelling involving not just repeating but learning about the behaviour, including rules and behaviour patterns. Motivation to continue the behaviour results from the response it receives from other people or the environment.
Self-Directedness and Forethought
Bandura believes that people are capable of self-direction and forethought. This includes planning ahead, considering all consequences and alternatives for behaviour and guiding and regulating their own activities. While many other behaviour theorists feel that behaviour is a reaction to the environment, Bandura emphasises the cognitive processes involved in that reaction. Self-direction and forethought also includes the influences of self-worth and satisfaction on a person's behaviour.
Self-efficacy is the belief that people have in themselves to bring about change. A person's self-efficacy determines his ability to perform at his maximum potential and improve quality of life. This emphasises the control individuals have over their own life circumstances.
Bandura has recently focused his research on four main areas of psychological functioning. He continues his research in psychological modelling and applies it to our current culture. He is also researching human agency or the way people influence their own behaviour. Bandura has also expanded his self-efficacy research to include the perception of a person's efficacy to influence events. The fourth area of his research involves stress reactions and causes of depression.
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