The social learning perspective in psychology is a theory that suggests people learn by observing and imitating others. This theory is also known as observational learning or modeling, and it was first proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura in the 1960s.

What is Social Learning Perspective?

According to the social learning perspective, individuals learn new behaviors by watching the actions of others and the consequences that result from those actions. This process can occur both intentionally or unintentionally, and it can involve both positive and negative behaviors.

An important aspect of this theory is that individuals not only learn from the direct actions of others but also through their verbal instructions and feedback. Additionally, individuals can also learn indirectly through media sources such as television shows, movies, or online videos.

Examples of Social Learning Perspective

One classic example of social learning perspective in action can be seen in children who watch their parents’ behavior. Children may observe how their parents handle conflict resolution or interact with others, and then they may apply these behaviors to their own lives.

Another example could be seen in a classroom setting where students are encouraged to model positive behaviors such as being respectful towards one another. This type of modeling can help students develop healthy social skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Observational Learning

Observational learning involves watching the behavior of others and then imitating that behavior. For example, a child might watch an older sibling tie their shoes and then try to do it themselves using the same method.


Modeling refers to when an individual deliberately sets out to copy someone else’s behavior. For example, a person might decide to start exercising regularly after seeing a friend’s successful fitness routine.

Vicarious Conditioning

Vicarious conditioning involves learning from the consequences of other people’s behavior. For example, a person might learn to avoid a certain type of food after watching someone else get sick from eating it.

The Role of Reinforcement in Social Learning

Reinforcement is an important part of the social learning process. Positive reinforcement occurs when an individual receives a reward or praise for a behavior, which increases the likelihood that they will repeat that behavior in the future.

Negative reinforcement occurs when an individual avoids punishment or negative consequences by engaging in a particular behavior. Both types of reinforcement can help to reinforce positive behaviors and discourage negative ones.

Limitations of Social Learning Perspective

While social learning perspective has been influential in psychology, there are also some limitations to this theory. For example, this theory does not take into account the role of genetics and biology in shaping behavior.

Additionally, this theory does not fully explain why some individuals are more likely to imitate certain behaviors than others or why some individuals are more resistant to modeling behaviors that go against their values or beliefs.


In conclusion, the social learning perspective is an important theory in psychology that explains how individuals learn through observation and imitation. While there are limitations to this theory, it remains an influential part of our understanding of human behavior and development.