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Social Cognitive Theory

  • By: James D. Robinson & Brett Billman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Social cognitive theory was developed by the social psychologist Albert Bandura. Bandura's theory is one of the most widely accepted theories of human behavior and is used extensively by health communication scholars. Perhaps the primary component of the theory is the notion of observational learning. Bandura argues that anything that can be learned from direct experience can be learned vicariously through the observation of models. This means that audience members can learn healthful behaviors by watching television and by imitating the behavior of family members.

In describing the process of observational learning, Bandura explains that people can learn by trial and error and through their own experience. However, he also points out that people can learn by watching the behavior and the consequences of those behaviors ...

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