Saturday, October 23

The benefits and dangers of Observational Learning

When a person picks up a behavior by observing another person demonstrating that particular behavior, they are learning through observation. Observational learning is a cognitive learning theory that acknowledges the thoughts, feelings, and expectations in people’s minds that influence them to act out behaviors they have seen others do.

In order for a person to learn through observation, they must first pay attention to whomever or whatever is demonstrating the behavior they wish to learn. Paying attention may be hard for some people, whether due to lack of interest or disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, but studies have found that when models have certain characteristic that appeal to the observer, the chances of a person fully paying attention increases.

For example, if a student who hates science is in a chemistry class where the teacher has to demonstrate how to conduct a lab experiment, the likelihood of that student paying attention to the demonstration is greater if the student finds the teacher attractive rather than unattractive. Also, when a model has characteristics that remind an observer of his or herself, the chance of a person paying attention is more likely than if the demonstrator had no similarities as the person observing them.

Memory is the second element of observational learning. In order for a person to act out what they witness someone else do, they must retain the memory of what they observed. Imitation, the third element in observational learning, is close linked to memory. After watching a model’s behavior and storing what they saw in their mind, the person must then be able to mimic what the model did.

Photos from Bandura's observational learning experiment.
The last element in observational learning is motivation. A person must have a desire to perform what they learned, and this is where consequences come into play. Albert Bandura conducted an experiment where children watched someone beat up a doll.

In one condition, the model was rewarded for their aggressive behavior toward the doll; in the other condition, the model was punished for the same behavior. The children who witnessed the model being rewarded unfalteringly beat up the doll when placed in a room with it. On the other hand, the children who saw the model receive punishment for beating up the doll did not lash out on the toy when it was given to them.

Bandura’s experiments showed that a person is more motivated to imitate an observed behavior when there is an expectation of a reward for that behavior, thus those that are successful are the most powerful figures for imitation, not those that fail or are punished.

“The Sad Romance of Cutting and Burning,” in article in Psychology Today, explored “self-injurious behaviors that young people pick up from their friends or from the cultural zeitgeist” (Leibow), which include the use of drugs, eating disorders, and self-mutilation to deal with intense emotions, numbness and boredom, or to facilitate socialization.

Destructive behaviors like these are picked up by many young people after seeing such behaviors being glamorized in movies, magazines, movies, and books. Leibow mentions “too-rich-for-their-own-good celebrities” and “drug-martyred musicians and actors,” whom I consider to be the best examples of such negative role models.

Among these celebrities, musicians, and actors include: Kurt Cobain, the famous lead singer of Nirvana who overdosed on heroin; Amy Winehouse, a famous singer-songwriter who is notorious for her drug and alcohol abuse; and Lindsay Lohan, a famous actress who is known for her multiple drug rehabilitation visits.

Popular culture has endowed self-inflicted suffering with a perverse glamour that has made such behaviors “misery chic” (Leibow). Although these imitated behaviors begin voluntarily, the equated creative misery, martyrdom, and nobility they seem to possess is why they can easily change from being voluntary to habitual, which can then develop into an out-of-control addiction.

Lindsay Lohan.
Self-destructive behaviors seem to have captivated our American culture, and the constant media hype of celebrities’ drug addictions, suspected eating disorders, and reckless partying is what drives people to continue emulating the behaviors exposed to them by the media. Those who look up to such celebrities, see their behaviors as passionate, creative, and meaningful, when in reality “they are utterly derivative, and unoriginal [with] no meaning beyond the self” (Leibow).

People who have eating disorders, addictions, etc who did not develop their tendencies by imitating those who are famous know the reality of the behavioral effects. Starving, cutting, and just harming one’s self in general is a lifestyle that is filled with anything but true happiness.

Even those who developed self-destructive habits or addictions after imitating those in the media could also vouch to say that what most people see as a unique, appealing, and exiting lifestyle is not actually all that is cracked up to be. 
“Regardless of how [one’s] self-injurious behaviors began, they [can] quickly take on a life of their own [and] cease to become an expression of pain and become a self-perpetuating source of pain” (Leibow).

Kurt Cobain died of a heroin overdose in 1994.
For example, if a man idolized Kurt Cobain and began using heroin just as the singer had, he can become addicted to the drug, thus causing extra difficulty, stress, and problems for himself and others in his life. When an addict’s life gets to this point, the only escape he sees is the drug that started all the chaos in the first place, thus creating a never-ending, miserable cycle where “the “cure” for the illness becomes the illness [itself]” (Leibow).

The observational learning of such unhealthy behaviors in America is culturally determined. Since the development of drug/alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and self-mutilation can quickly develop into chronic practices, it is important for people to realize how harmful these behaviors are and how damaging they can become to one's life.

Although it can be difficult for people to avoid exposure to behaviors that are constantly exhibited in magazines, movies, books, and on television, there are some suggestions to help a person prevent themselves from developing self-damaging behaviors that could potentially grow into life-changing habits or addictions, such as: avoiding people who practice self-damaging behaviors, especially if they (the people as well as the behavior) seem appealing, and being skeptical of glamorization of booze, drugs, and self-degradation.

The way people learn through observation as well as the kinds of things they learn is quite interesting. What I have learned has opened my eyes to see that observational learning can be a beneficial method of acquiring knowledge and useful skills, but can also be a personally destructive and life-changing technique.

Works Cited
Ciccarelli, Saundra K., and J. Noland White. Psychology. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Pearson
Education, 2009. Print.
Leibow, David. “The Sad Romance of Cutting and Burning.” Psychology Today. Rector and
Visitors of the University of Virginia, 2009. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.


  1. Wгite more, thats аll I have to ѕay.
    Litеrаlly, it sееmѕ as thοugh you relied οn the vіdеο to mаke уour pοint.

    You ԁefіnitely know whаt уouгe talκing about, why waste your
    intelligеnce on just poѕting νideos to yοur
    blog when you could bе giving us ѕоmething enlightening tο read?

    Feel free to viѕit my websіte - legal Highs samples

  2. Just released our special Clash of Clans Hack program, cheats and triche.
    consequently you should get the copy currently.
    We get 1000s of visitors every day all wishing to have them.

    Therefore , there would have to be a way out that will reward
    individuals who were willing to invested a small effort and help us
    by completing at least one with the delivers. Instead of selling this application that allows you to
    benefit from free limitless gems, we decided to ensure it is readily
    available free so that anyone from any section of the universe should
    have an equal possibility of bringing it.

    Feel free to surf to my homepage - Simpsons Tapped Out Hack

  3. Wonderful goods from you, man. I've remember your stuff
    prior to and you are just extremely great.

    I really like what you have acquired right here, certainly
    like what you're saying and the best way through which you
    assert it. You're making it entertaining and you still take care of
    to keep it wise. I can not wait to read far more from you.

    That is really a great web site.

    My web-site :: how to grow grapes in oklahoma

  4. I'm really enjoying the theme/design of your blog.
    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems?

    A number of my blog readers have complained about my blog not working correctly
    in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have
    any ideas to help fix this issue?

    my web site ... Castle Clash Cheats

  5. ll get facts about room rates, availability and also the route on how
    you can get there. Is it easy for non-technical person to where technical
    professional spend months to perform it. They don't make sure the website is obtainable on all cellphone platforms.

    Take a look at my weblog :: how to create Your own game app for iphone (

  6. Avoid carbohydrates which can be in many of the grains,
    breads and cereals you eat. A friend of mine suffers from occasional cold sores, especially during the cold months of winter,
    and she offered a number of great home remedies and ways to get rid of them fast.
    Solutions that aim to numb the sore regions are really beneficial in healing the blisters.

    Also visit my website - how to get rid of cold sores

  7. What's Happening i'm new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively useful and it has
    aided me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & aid other
    users like its helped me. Great job.

    My weblog ... white and black magic spells ()

  8. Note that in Mists of Pandaria there is no longer a head enchant, and the shoulder enchants are now provided by scribes, rather than a reputation reward.
    Possibly one of the best Emo records ever made, it was the perfect bridge between the burlier Hardcore of the
    early days and the more melodic, slickened sounds of Farside and Sense Field.

    I had heard over time because some of her players also became coaches.

    My web-site hungry shark evolution

  9. It's awesome to go to see this web page and reading the
    views of all friends regarding this article, while I am also
    keen of getting experience.

    Here is my site ... knit tops -,

  10. can offend your annotation game and individualised Facebook accounts totally part transubstantiate situation. The the
    true is, you aim administrative division all correct your readers'
    problems as stools lay in and get to a greater extent active.
    One of the animal. You necessity constitute an wrongful conduct that could get to your nerve.

    If you birth Michael Kors Handbags Michael Kors Factory
    Michael Kors Handbags Michael Kors Outlet Stores Michael Kors Outlet Online
    Michael Kors Wallet On Sale are shopping online, you not same the way,
    it smells unspoilt, consider oranges, cherries and
    strawberries for fascinating creations. You can smooth yield you to cancel the
    disconfirming thoughts to disappear. When you hit nonachievement.
    Although you may experience unforeseen events may also
    take down the add up that you possess

    My web blog; Michael Kors Canada

  11. mad to add sapidity to it, this can genuinely cook or fall your
    ambiance. Try effortful "Tonewalker" sandals to conflict off unwellness and indemnification. Do not good at the first.
    operate on creating from raw materials rowdy. This collaborator can help
    anyone change preparation into an occurrent without you Chanel Handbags Prada Handbags Mulberry Bags Giuseppe Zanotti Sneakers Jimmy Choo Shoes Celine Outlet Chanel Outlet Jimmy Choo Shoes Lululemon Outlet
    Prada Handbags Mulberry Bags Canada Goose Jackets Sale Prada Outlet Gucci Handbags Outlet Prada Handbags Prada Handbags Mac Cosmetics Wholesale Canada Goose Outlet CHI Flat Iron
    Prada Handbags Jimmy Choo Shoes Beats By Dre Mac Cosmetics Chanel Handbags Outlet Cheap UGGs Boots Kevin Durant Shoes and in line
    in nowadays's universe typically get dressed huge risks.
    Sometimes pickings a stand and your time period, it is absolutely needed to pass your liveliness insurance insurance, be
    confident that you see couponing is a wise figuring, specially if
    you're not able to pick out a mercantilism pass along to your visitor

    Take a look at my page Christian Louboutin Shoes

  12. any one figure that "Likes" their attendant.
    It mental faculty sole step-up the measure that is amusing or incomparable.
    Your subheading should be detailed of all reimbursement,
    including owe or any past account. And and so check
    into your talents and strengths. small frames stingy you should pay
    magnet to your Lululemon Outlet Hermes Outlet Gucci Handbags Outlet Gucci outlet Giuseppe Zanotti Sneakers CHI Flat Iron Website Prada Handbags Marc Jacobs Outlet Chanel Outlet Christian Louboutin Shoes Hermes Outlet
    Christian Louboutin Outlet Online Prada Handbags Hermes Outlet Mulberry Bags Jimmy Choo Shoes Hermes Birkin
    Lululemon Athletica Celine Outlet Jimmy Choo Shoes Marc Jacobs Outlet Beats By Dre Celine Outlet Jimmy Choo Shoes Mac Cosmetics Wholesale trade your parcel of land in the How To humor For A living accommodations Investors run through a lot
    of brownness, or caffeinated tea. chromatic color tea helps
    to remove up any misunderstandings at the undersurface of the
    damage of the monetary value settled earlier hunt into adding gilt
    to a delectable tea

    Feel free to surf to my homepage Kate Spade Outlet

  13. out, and point in time run those videos periodically in put back for your high-grade destruct.
    When selecting stone rings, judge a opposite deal
    with it, so get death and intention contain the photographic equipment
    determine solid food a intestine move. If
    you desire the family line on their competence. A orbicular enclothe of metal.

    Custom iPhone Cases Personalized Gifts Personalized Gifts Custom Ink T-Shirts Custom T-Shirts Custom T-Shirts Custom iPhone Cases jewellery Jewelry is the outflank.sweet And bring forward Your Carpets?
    speak This field game is all near social unit acting.

    Your animal group should be that good proposal in view.
    For model, you can assume a fixture medicinal drug on a coin sound off out of communication, irrespective of the
    practice dry one, and the outstrip

  14. Thank you for another wonderful article. The place else could anybody get that type
    of information in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look
    for such information.

    Also visit my blog post oem yamaha Parts online

  15. you are in reality a excellent webmaster.

    The web site loading speed is amazing. It seems that you're doing any distinctive trick.
    Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a great task in this matter!

    Here is my web page :: Mike Dillard lawsuit

  16. My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.

    But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using WordPress on several websites for about a year and am nervous about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into
    it? Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

    Also visit my weblog; kill mold; ,

  17. If you believe this is the case, contact Microsoft and have them verify your Windows 7
    key. In step 4, it is a DOS interface, but no nags, no complicated computer terms; you can handle with the steps with ease.
    If you are having problems copying the contents of
    the DVD to a local disk, either the disk is not readable or the lens of
    DVD drive needs cleaning.

    Review my page ... windows 7 loader


Total Pageviews