Observational Learning

Observational learning, or learning by observation, was first emphasized by researcher Albert Bandura of Stanford University. (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963). Bandura found that people learn many tasks simply by observing others.

Can you think of a time in your life when this was especially true? Childhood, as you may have thought, is a time when we learn all kinds of behaviors by observation and imitation. Sometimes called "modeling," such observational learning occurs throughout our lifetime. It often accounts for our attitude formations, gender identity, and skill acquisition.

Bandura did research with children to demonstrate his theory of observational learning. You may have read about Bandura's landmark study with the "Bobo" doll in your introductory psychology class. Here are actual scenes from Bandura's famous experiment on learning through observation.

Bandura's Experiment