Social Learning Theory, also known as observational learning or modeling, was developed by psychologist Albert Bandura. It posits that people learn from one another through observation, imitation, and modeling. In this article, we will explore the key concepts of Social Learning Theory.

Observational Learning

One of the central ideas of Social Learning Theory is observational learning. This refers to the process of learning through observing others’ behavior. According to Bandura, people can learn new behaviors by watching others perform them and then imitating those behaviors themselves.

Vicarious Reinforcement

Another key concept in Social Learning Theory is vicarious reinforcement. This means that individuals are more likely to repeat behaviors that they have observed being rewarded in others. For example, if someone sees their friend receive praise for doing well on an exam, they may be more motivated to study harder themselves.


Self-efficacy is another important concept in Social Learning Theory. This refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to successfully complete a task or achieve a goal. Bandura believed that self-efficacy plays a crucial role in motivation and learning since individuals are more likely to engage in behaviors they believe they can do well.

Modeling Behavior

Modeling behavior is another key concept of Social Learning Theory. This refers to the practice of observing someone else’s behavior and then imitating it. Bandura suggested that people are more likely to model the behavior of individuals who they perceive as similar or desirable.


To effectively model behavior, an individual must first pay attention to it. If someone is distracted or disinterested while observing a behavior, they are less likely to learn from it. Therefore, attention is a crucial component of modeling behavior.


Retention refers to an individual’s ability to remember and reproduce a behavior they have observed. According to Social Learning Theory, retention is influenced by factors such as the individual’s level of motivation, the complexity of the behavior, and the presence of cues that aid memory.


Finally, motivation plays a crucial role in Social Learning Theory. Bandura believed that individuals are more likely to engage in behaviors they find rewarding or enjoyable. Therefore, if someone observes a behavior being rewarded or experiences positive outcomes from performing a behavior themselves, they are more likely to continue engaging in it.


In conclusion, Social Learning Theory suggests that people learn through observation and imitation. Key concepts of this theory include observational learning, vicarious reinforcement, self-efficacy, modeling behavior, attention, retention, and motivation. Understanding these concepts can help individuals better understand how they learn from others and how they can effectively model behaviors themselves.