Profile of Albert Bandura and His Contributions

Subject: Psychology
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 1838
Topics: Biography

Social psychology is a field that aims at understanding the nature of behavior and the reason behind a person’s actions in a social setting (McLeod, 2017). It analyzes thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and the intentions of an individual, and further provides the underlying reasons. Scholars have, for a long time, dedicated their lives to studying different social behaviors, for example, Albert Bandura. He focused on human motivation, the thought process, and action. Albert Bandura is best known for his extensive contributions to the social learning theory. He is also known as the theoretical founder of self-efficacy. His experiment on Bobo doll caught the attention of many researchers in 1961. He argued that the behavior and the acts of adults influence young children. His life history fostered the contributions he made in the field of social psychology. Early in his life, he was passionate and he always desired to leave a mark by offering his skills and knowledge to this profession. He does not shy away from working with other like-minded professionals. Albert Bandura’s life and theories are admirable, and they cannot be ignored. It is these invaluable features that make him the most celebrated psychologist.

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Early Life

Albert Bandura was born in December 4, 1924, in Canada (, 2015). He is the last born in a family of six children. His parents were farmers, living in a remote village. During this time, educational opportunities were limited, and therefore, Albert acquired his formal education from a small school. He was, however, a determined student who refused to restrict his learning to the school curriculum only. When he was away from school and the farm, he continued learning all alone, which developed his level of knowledge (, 2015). Albert performed well in school. He later enrolled at the University of British Columbia to further his studies. As a determined student, he registered in the university before the scheduled date of reporting to school. He had a lot of free time. He decided to spend his free time by learning another course.  It was during this time that he accidentally came across a Psychology course. The subject sparked his interest and it started to influence what he wanted to pursue in future progressively. As time went by, the pass time subject was no longer a hobby.  

After completing his undergraduate degree, Albert Bandura joined the University of Lowa, which was highly regarded in teaching Analytical Psychology. He acquired a Master’s Degree from the university in 1951 (, 2015). A year later, he obtained a Ph.D. in psychology. While still at the University of Lowa, Albert had a distinctive interest in a psychological phenomenon that that was laced under ongoing studies. His attention was a breakaway from conventional behaviorism theory, which was popular at the time. He was determined in coming up with a practical argument that explained the human mental process through self-regulation and observational learning. In 1953, Albert Bandura was awarded a brief internship at the Wichita Kansas Guidance Center (McLeod, 2017). He later became an instructor at Stanford University.  

Bobo Doll Experiment

Albert Bandura’s chance to work at Stanford University was a sure opportunity for him to influence the world of social psychology. In 1961, Bandura carried out the Bobo doll experiment that aimed at proving that children learn and acquire behavior by observing the adult’s behavior (Graham & Arshad-Ayaz, 2016). Albert Bandura had worked with a team of researchers to come up with the study on aggression. The researchers used inflated dolls, where they abused them verbally and physically in front of preschool children. The children mimicked the adults’ behaviors and later attacked the inflated dolls in the manner they had observed the adults behave.

The focus of the Bobo doll experiment was on aggressive behavior, and the core measurement was the level of aggression (Graham & Arshad-Ayaz, 2016). In every society, children find themselves in a dilemma when facing a given situation for their first time. The best way they can think of is connected to how they observed an adult act. Adults are therefore regarded as role models, who shape the way children form attitudes. Children are surrounded by many adults who are influential to them. They include their parents at home, adults within the family, teachers, and other characters watched on the television or those they interact with in the neighborhood. The adults expose children to a wide range of behavioral traits to imitate. However, Albert Bandura’s findings on the experiment prove that children are not likely to pick up actions from any adult, but there are adults who have a higher chance of influencing a child’s behavior than others.   

Albert Bandura explained that children are likely to imitate behaviors and other actions from adults they perceive to be similar to them. For example, a child will pick up an act from a person they like, such as the father, the mother, or their favorite teachers.  Researchers in the experiment were, however, quick to mention that children are likely to copy behaviors from adults of the same gender. For example, a young boy is likely to replicate the father’s behavior than the mother’s. The findings do not exclude the probability that the boy child can pick up routine behaviors from the mother.  

The second findings by the researchers were that, after a child imitates an adult behavior, the grownups, around the child, respond by either punishment or reinforcement. When a child is rewarded for mimicking behavior, they will continue with the behavior. Rewarding a behavior strengthens it (Graham & Arshad-Ayaz, 2016). For example, if a child tries to imitate an adult’s practice of eating food with a spoon, and the adult appreciates the act, the child will repeat with ease. Reinforcement of behavior can be either positive or negative, but either way, it leads to a change in behavior. Support cannot, however, have an impact if it does not match the child’s needs (Graham & Arshad-Ayaz, 2016). A child who receives rewards benefits from praise and attention and therefore they will repeat the behavior to get attention. However, when the positive reward has no impact or meaning to the child, the chances of dropping the practice are high. In the case of negative reinforcement, such as punishment, the child abandons the behavior, for fear of another punishment. 

The experiment has however faced criticism from scholars who question the findings published, such as the subject of aggression or simply imitation. According to Altin, Jablonsk, Lyke, and Spinella (2011), their observation of the video clip on the study was that the children were punching, kicking and hitting the dolls precisely as the adults were reacting. The children were thus playing with the dolls in the same way the adults had demonstrated to them. The critics add that children imitate behavior that looks interesting to them and that was the case in the Bobo Doll experiment.  

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory was an expansion of the findings of the Bobo Doll experiment. The theory argues that people learn from observation, imitation, and modeling of the behavior of others. The arguments of the applicable method contributed to social psychology because they bridged the gap between cognitive learning and behaviorist learning. The theory suggests that knowledge is constructed from engaging in activities, getting feedback, as well as other interactions within the social context (McLeod, 2017). Therefore, people reason deeply before taking up a behavior.

Observational learning, according to Bandura’s argument, is not possible without cognitive processing. Observing a behavior is the stimuli while imitating it becomes the response. Albert Bandura proposed four mediation steps that must be used (McLeod, 2017). The first was attention, where, before picking a behavior, the act must grab the interest of an individual. It is the first step that determines whether a person will act or bypass the behavior. The second step is retention, which defines the individuals’ ability to remember the reaction. It takes up time to learn or notice the response, but it is highly likely that behavior will be acquired if an individual can remember it. The third step is the replication process, where a person performs the modeled behavior. The last phase is motivation, which reinforces behavior by either reward or punishment.  

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The concepts of social learning theory have in the past been used to analyze web-based learning environments. According to Hill, Song, and West (2009), understanding the students learning experiences will help the instructor in improving the design of students learning. Online studies offer little face to face interactions between students and the teachers. Therefore, this creates a major hindrance to students’ learning. Social learning theory can be used to improve the learning environment. The researchers suggest that teachers should use web-based learning environments, which are more interactive as compared to other formats (Hill, Song & West, 2009). The article suggests that teaching and learning are influenced by culture, context, and community, as well as learner characteristics. Teachers should, therefore, improve on these areas to enhance the learning experience. 

Self-Efficacy Theory

Self-efficacy is a theory that refers to a person’s belief in their abilities. The approach aims at explaining that people achieve their objectives if they believe they are capable. Albert Bandura did a study that revealed that people, who thought that they could overcome their phobias, were more likely to do so. He explained that self-efficacy is not a trait that individuals are born with and others lack. Instead, anyone can exercise and strengthen their self-efficacy. 

Williams and Rhodes linked self-efficacy with health-related behaviors. They found out that adding the words “if you wanted to” at the end of a self-efficacy item decreased the relationship between motivation and self-efficacy (Williams & Rhodes, 2016). Adding the words “Can do” at the end of self-efficacy, showed a positive relationship between motivation and self-efficacy. The researchers, however, recommended an in-depth study that is beyond self-efficacy, to determine other sources of motivation for health-related conduct (Williams & Rhodes, 2016).


Overall, Albert Bandura’s contributions to the field of social psychology are admirable and beneficial to understanding behavior and cognitive learning. Bandura grew up as a motivated person, who was interested in lessons not covered in the school syllabus. Despite coming from a humble family of farmers, in a remote village, he never gave up on improving his learning. His Bobo doll experiment made him famous. It linked him to the entire world. He used the experiment to propose to parents why they should be careful about whose behavior their children imitated. The social learning theory closed the gap between behaviorist and cognitive learning. It suggests that the two cannot exist without each other. Learning of behavior requires a mental process that includes getting the attention of the behavior. Self-efficacy, which proposes that people’s abilities come from their beliefs, dictates the value of human cognitive processes. Albert Bandura’s work has gained criticism and favor in equal measure, from other scholars who share different views. Even still, his actions continue to motivate researchers and scholars of Social Psychology. 

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  1. Altin, D., Jablonski, J., & Lyke, J. (2011). Gender difference in perceiving aggression using the Bobo doll studies. Modern Psychological Studies16(2). 
  2. (2015). Albert Bandura Biography
  3. Graham, P., & Arshad-Ayaz, A. (2016). Learned unsustainability: Bandura’s Bobo Doll Revisited. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development10(2), 262-273. 
  4. Hill, J., Song, L., & West, R. (2009). Social learning theory and web-based learning environments: A review of research and discussion of implications. American Journal of Distance Education23(2), 88-103. 
  5. McLeod, S. (2017). Social Psychology | Simply
  6. Williams, D., & Rhodes, R. (2014). The confounded self-efficacy construct: conceptual analysis and recommendations for future research. Health Psychology Review10(2), 113-128. 
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