Social Cognitive Theory

by Brooke Harriman

Social Cognitive Theory is founded on the principle of people learning by watching others, and that by understanding someone's thought process, we can in turn understand their personality. We learn by studying behaviors, how people interact with each other, as well as how they interact with their environment. Social Cognitivists believe that we are influenced, changed, and taught by the behaviors and actions we observe from models. Models include live people, books, movies, as well as in combination.

SCT Model by (Pajares 2002)

Albert Bandura is the father of Social Cognitive Theory. Bandura and fellow researchers discovered that students did not need consequences in order to learn, they determined that learning could take place by observing models.

Huitt states that "Bandura formulated his findings in a four-step pattern which combines a cognitive view and an operant view of learning
1. Attention -- the individual notices something in the environment.
2. Retention -- the individual remembers what was noticed.
3. Reproduction -- the individual produces an action that is a copy of what was noticed.
4. Motivation -- the environment delivers a consequence that changes the probability the behavior will be emitted
again (reinforcement and punishment) (2004, pg 1)."

Using Social Cognitive Theory in the classroom: Teachers can facilitate their students learning by preparing them to be self-regulated. Allowing students to set their own learning objectives, actually supervise the progress they are making towards their target goals, and analyze how effectively they are achieving those objectives.

Research on the topic of SCT:
Stone, Danice. (n.d.). Social Cognitive Theory. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from
Stipek, Deborah J. (1993). Motivation to Learn: From Theory to Practice. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from

Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. (2009; October 31). FL. The Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Retrieved November 1, 2009 from

Pajares (2002). Overview of social cognitive theory and of self-efficacy. Retreived Novermber 1, 2009, from

Huitt, W. (2004). Observational (social) learning: An overview. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from