Social learning theory is a psychological theory that explains how people learn new behaviors, values, and attitudes through observation, modeling, and reinforcement. According to this theory, individuals learn by observing the behaviors of others and the consequences of their actions. In this article, we will discuss the main thesis of social learning theory and its implications for understanding human behavior.

The Main Thesis of Social Learning Theory

The main thesis of social learning theory is that people learn new behaviors through observation and modeling. This means that individuals are more likely to adopt a new behavior if they see someone they respect or admire engaging in that behavior. For example, children are more likely to try a new sport or activity if they see their favorite athlete doing it.

Observational Learning

Observational learning is a key component of social learning theory. It involves watching others and then imitating their behavior.

For instance, children often imitate their parents’ actions, such as cleaning up after themselves or saying “please” and “thank you.” Observational learning can occur through direct observation or through media such as television shows or movies.

Four Processes of Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory identifies four processes that play a role in observational learning:

These processes work together to determine whether an individual will learn from observing another person’s behavior.

Implications for Understanding Human Behavior

Social learning theory has important implications for understanding human behavior. This theory explains why people may engage in particular behaviors based on what they have observed in others. For example, if someone sees a friend losing weight through a particular diet and exercise routine, they may be motivated to try that same routine themselves.

Additionally, social learning theory can help explain why certain behaviors are more prevalent in certain cultures or communities. If individuals observe and model the behavior of those around them, it makes sense that certain behaviors would become more common within a particular group.


In conclusion, social learning theory is a useful framework for understanding how people learn new behaviors through observation and modeling. By identifying the processes involved in observational learning, this theory can shed light on why individuals engage in certain behaviors and how those behaviors become prevalent within particular communities. By incorporating the principles of social learning theory into our daily lives, we can become better observers and role models for those around us.