The purpose of this paper is to present a critical analysis of Albert Bandura's social learning theory. The paper begins by presenting a rationale for why it is important to analyze Bandura's theory; this is followed by an explication of the basic theoretical perspectives, principles and postulates of the theory, which, in turn, is followed by a review of research evaluating the explanatory and practical efficacy of the theory. The final section of the paper presents a critical analysis of the theory's strengths and weaknesses in terms of its power to explain, predict, and control human learning.
There are several reasons to explore the efficacy of Bandura's social learning theory as a model for human learning. First, there is the historical contribution of the theory which, as pointed out by Samuel (1991) consists of the fact that the model almost single-handedly shifted the general behavioral perspective from one of a single-minded focus on observable stimuli and responses to an expanded perspective incorporating cognitive, emotional and social elements. This contribution alone merits an in-depth exploration and critical analysis of the model.
A second reason for conducting an evaluative critique of Bandura's social learning theory is the fact that the model has such wide application in the social sciences; this includes applications of the model to human growth and development theory (see: Papalia & Olds, 1995), to personality development (Samuel, 1991), to education (Klausmeier, 1991) and to theories of human aggression (see: Tedeschi, Lindskold & Rosenfeld, 1985) as well as to a host of other areas. Without periodic critical analyses of any theory with such wide application to the social and behavioral sciences, there would be no way to determine whether the widespread use of any model is fully justified.
The purpose of this section of the paper is to present a comprehensive description of Bandura's basic model o...