Skinner and Bandura Learning Theory

Subject: Law
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 852
Topics: Morality, Parenting, Smoking

There are many theories of learning aimed at explaining how learning takes place. Bandura and Skinner have forward theories explaining free will, but the ideas contradict in a way. Skinner’s theory emphasizes the importance of reinforcement in behavior change. Behavior change occurs as a result of an individual responding to a stimulus in the environment (Eysenck, 2013). Recurrence of behavior is ensured by a continuous reinforcement. However, the learner is obliged to make a choice on whether to change the behavior. Reinforcement is key to ensuring that an individual acquires and maintains the expected behavior. For instance, in his experiment about the rat and the electric current in the box, the rat has a free will to use. The rat can choose to either press the bar for the current to be disconnected or keep suffering under the extreme current. 

Despite the presence of reward and punishment to reinforce behavior, a learner has to decide to exhibit the desired habits. Bandura’s social learning theory emphasizes on the ability of a person to learn from others through observation, imitation, and modeling. A person observes the behavior, imitates what the person has done and then models the behavior. People will learn when they see how other people behave and the consequence or effect that accompany the behavior. A person should pay attention, retain the observed behavior and produce the image (Rosenthal & Zimmerman, 2014). Motivation is vital to encourage a person to conserve and maintain the behavior. Both past and present actions that an individual observes are helpful in triggering a person to behave as expected. Freewill comes about when the person has to choose whether to imitate the observed behavior. 

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Freewill is the ability of a person to make a choice concerning a bad or a good thing. It is the ability of a person to make a decision and follow what they think is right. Free will gives a person the freedom to decide and follow what they should do. A person does what they want to do because they have a conviction that it is what they should do. The choice of what to do is variable as different people see behavior differently and what they choose is determined by various factors. As a result of free will, some people may portray the unexpected behavior, yet they made a choice about it. In psychology, individuals are provided with the appropriate training and information and given room to make a decision on what to follow. Freewill encourages people to take advantage of their thinking capacity and follow a path that they prefer. An individual is free to exercise what they feel is right and shun what they know is right (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014). A person decides on the way that they want to follow in life and is given room to follow their heart as the saying always goes. Free will leads to either right or wrong behavior as the decision on the choice to make lies on the part of an individual. People are given an opportunity to exercise what their heart feels is right and follow the path of their choice in their lives. 

Media has many influences on the behavior of people, and the influence can be positive or negative. Listening and watching the television, watching movies and videos, reading and other online platforms impact how people behave (Skinner, 2014). Advertisements aired on television such as those aimed at discouraging vices like cigarette smoking may trigger an individual to shun from the vice. Healthy eating habits can also be derived from the media as medics, and other healthcare professionals advise people on many things. However, the media can also predispose individuals to bad habits through some of the advertisements. Media personalities may also communicate or encourage values that the society does not approve. Adoption of bad vices mostly occurs with the movies and other online videos that people especially kids watch. 

The theories of Skinner and Bandura can be used to encourage modification of behavior by individuals. Negative reinforcement can be applied to change the behavior of a person and achieve desired results.  The cost of cigarettes can be increased such that the higher the number of cigarettes that a person smokes correlates with high costs. A person will, therefore, avoid smoking as they know that they will have to incur higher costs to purchase the cigarettes. According to Bandura’s theory, tobacco can be discouraged by modeling the right behavior. Parents who want their children to shun from cigarettes smoking ought to demonstrate the same. The parents should not smoke and neither expose the children to smoking individuals. Failure of the parents to smoke will also encourage the children not to smoke. 

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  1. Eysenck, H. J. (Ed.). (2013). Experiments in behaviour therapy: Readings in modern methods of treatment of mental disorders derived from learning theory. Elsevier.
  2. Rosenthal, T. L., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2014). Social learning and cognition. Academic Press.
  3. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2014). Moral psychology: Free will and moral responsibility. MIT Press.
  4. Skinner, B. F. (2014). Contingencies of reinforcement: A theoretical analysis (Vol. 3). BF Skinner Foundation.
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