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Social Learning Theory

  1. Jeanne Ellis Ormond

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0892

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Ormond, J. E. 2010. Social Learning Theory. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–4.

Author Information

  1. University of Northern Colorado and University of New Hampshire

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Historically, social learning theory has focused on the ways in which people learn from observing one another, with particular attention to modeling and imitation. In its early years in the 1960s, its roots were in behaviorism, giving attention to the potential roles of environmental stimuli and consequences (reinforcement and punishment) in learning and behavior. But over time, it has increasingly incorporated cognitive factors into its explanations of how people learn and why they behave as they do, and it is now sometimes called social cognitive theory. For example, it has expanded far beyond learning through observation to include people's interpretations of what they see, their expectations regarding future events, and their beliefs about their ability to successfully accomplish challenging tasks. Furthermore, it has increasingly portrayed learning and behavior as being controlled not by environmental circumstances but rather by learners themselves.


  • social learning theory;
  • social cognitive theory;
  • reciprocal causation;
  • self-efficacy;
  • self-regulation