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The Definition Of Social Learning Theory

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The social learning theory explains how people learn new actions, and perspectives through watching others similar to them. People tend to learn by models that are similar to them; for example, when peoples’ gender, age, economic class, nationality, and/ or race are the same they are more influenced. When a person learns through the social learning theory, they must be aware of the behavior another person is portraying, remember the behavior, and only if the learner is influenced by the action will they replicate it.

This theory starts applying to humans once they are born mimicking behaviors of their family members, and others in their age group. It applies to older people as well, but they are generally more knowledgeable and less influenced by behaviors that go against their morals. This becomes a problem with adolescents because they are more vulnerable to be similar to their peers. During schooling as a kid, I remember being taught about the concept of peer pressure along with the importance of being able to say no, and not copy the actions of others. Often the negative influences of adolescents can result in substance abuse, human trafficking, and gang activity.

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The social learning theory provides insight as to why the legal justice system punishes juveniles different from adults, as well as the need for rehabilitation before re-entering society. It is important to remember that during this theory people can still learn from behaviors of others even in the absence of motor replication (needed to learn certain tasks), or reinforcement. Another example of the social learning theory is how a junior varsity high school athlete learns through watching the varsity players. In this case, motor reinforcement can be seen during one on one time with the model, the varsity athlete, and he will gain reinforcement not only from his model but also his team, friends, and family. Therefore, the social learning theory is often referred to in the understanding of why a person acts a certain way

A current event that is related to social learning theory was highlighted in an article published to Fox News Chicago on April 15th, 2019, and is titled “3 dead, 16 wounded in Chicago weekend shootings”. I have a peer who claims false reports about Chicago shootings and others believe his words but being from Chicago, I feel the need to fact check. The headline explains the homicide-related crime violence; a 23-year-old woman was shot in her car, a 24-year-old male in a restaurant, and 23-year-old woman walking down the street. In addition, a thirteen and fourteen years old were injured in Washington Park.

All of these instances were on the south, or west sides of Chicago which are notorious for gang violence. Younger peoples like those mentioned in the article are frequently victims to these shootings since it is easy for them to join a gang at a young age because they are learning from their peers that it is beneficial for money, or protection. Living in poverty increases the chances that people of all ages might choose to follow the actions of others which supports the claims made by the social learning theory. Most people cannot understand why there are shootings reported almost every night in the local Chicago news. In essence, it is due to the social learning theory. As mentioned before the juvenile justice system is important because if a child joins a gang and commits a crime they are often being influenced by other members, and if under eighteen the child should not be charged to the full extent an adult would. Also, most kids in poverty lack a role model. It is essential that a child has someone to model that is law-abiding, and that will teach them how to do right not wrong.

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The Definition Of Social Learning Theory. (2021, September 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
“The Definition Of Social Learning Theory.” Edubirdie, 16 Sept. 2021,
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The Definition Of Social Learning Theory [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 16 [cited 2023 Mar 21]. Available from:
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