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Observational Learning Essay

During this course we studied that behaviors can be learned through our own experiences or observing others. Learning is the knowledge obtained in life through education, interacting with people, experiences and practice. There are three types of learning: Classical Conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. There are many topics that grabbed my interest during this course, but observational learning made me think about my personal life and reminded me of many experiences that I went through in life.

Observational learning means that we learn through watching others and then imitating them, this can happen through observing our family, neighbors, friends or TV. I remember when I was a child, I used to watch my mother cooking and then I go back to my room and pretend that am cooking as well. Even though, I grew up and became a very bad cooker. Albert Bandura suggested in his theory “The social learning theory” that children tend to imitated adults by observing them.

He supported his theory in his famous experiment “Bobo doll”, which shows an adult acting aggressively toward a Bobo doll, and after that when they allowed the children to play with the doll they acted in the same aggressive way. I remember last year I was with my aunt and her 7 years old son in the car going to a restaurant. My aunt is a smoker, so she took out a cigarette and started smoking.

After sometimes, her son told her: ” When I grow up I will smoke cigarettes”, she told him: “No, you are not allowed to smoke it’s bad for health”, he replayed: “But you smoke, I want to be cool like you” and when we reached to the restaurant, her son took a straw and started acting as if he is smoking. In addition, Banduara’s study showed that people also learn through imitating others who receive punishments and rewards.

It means that when a child sees his older siblings getting punished for doing something wrong, the child is more likely to avoid doing it so he/she won’t get punished. On the other hand, if a child noticed that one of his siblings are rewarded for behaving in a certain way or doing something good, the child will do the same to get a reward. When I was 9 years old, my parents bought a new toy for my older brother because he got a full mark on one of his subjects at school, I was very jealous that day and decided to study hard to get a full mark so my parents can get me a gift.

Learning can be either positive or negative. Positive observational learning is when a person learn a good behavior from someone. When I was young, every time we go to a mall there were these small charity cabinets were you can donate money. I used to see my mother donating money like every time we go to a mall, and now I do the same thing. In contrast, negative observational learning is when a person learn a bad behavior from someone else.

It is true that people can learn negative behavior from their siblings, family, friends or neighbors, however; I believe that TV and media content is more dangerous and have more powerful impact on people. For example, my small cousin began to act violently since he started watching WWE (a wrestling show) and he even memorized all the wrestle moves. Everyone in the family and school is complaining that he beats other children so hard.

For him, he finds it cool and believe that in this way more people will like him as they like these wrestlers. Finally, I believe that observational learning is an effective way. Children have the right to explore their own world and determine the wrong action from the right one. Of course, parents should act in a proper way in front of their children and be careful of what they are watching, and advice them to do the right thing when the make a mistake.


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