Learning by Observation & Bandura's Experiments

Topic: Learning by Observation & Bandura's Experiments
Learning by Observation & Bandura's Experiments - The Neuron

Posted by: John

Key Terms:

  • Observational learning: Learning by observing others.
  • Modeling: The process of observing and imitating a specific behavior.
  • Mirror neurons: Frontal lobe neurons that fire when performing certain actions or when observing another doing so. The brain's mirroring of another's action may enable imitation, language learning, and empathy.
  • Prosocial behavior: positive, constructive, helpful behavior. the opposire of antisocial behavior.

Learning does not only come from experience but also observational learning, which is observing and imitating others. For example, a child who sees his sister burn her finger on a stove will learn not to touch the stove when it is hot. This behavior is also called modeling. Recently neuroscientists discovered mirror neurons that provide a neural basis for observational learning. For example, when a monkey is grasping, holding or tearing, the mirror neurons become active, but it also gets active when a monkey observes another monkey. It refers not only monkeys but humans as well. PET scans rthat humans have mirror neurons too, which is connected to language. For example, a baby can follow by observing the lip and tongue movement saying mom or dad.

Learning by Observation & Bandura's Experiments - The NeuronBanduras experiment which is from Albert Bandura, clearly demonstrates observational learning. It basically is putting a preschool child work on drawing in a room and in the other part of the room, where the child can see, an adult working with tinker toys. Then the adult gets up and kicks and punches a large doll, while saying hit him down, Kick him and etcetera. Finally, the kid is taken to another room where the toys and the big doll is. The kid apparently beats the doll just like the adult did. After Banduras experiment, people found out that the bad thing is that antisocial models will have antisocial effects, but prosocial models will not.
Some not so good examples of observational learning also come from research on media modles of aggression. The more hours children spend watching violent programs, the more at risk they are for aggression and crime as teens and adults.

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