With regard to personality, Social Cognitive Psychology can be seen as centering on the work of two men: Albert Bandura and Walter Mischel. This school of thought proceeds from the following core assumptions:

  • Structure: People have expectancies of the future as well as beliefs about self-efficacy with regard to their standards and goals
  • Process: Observational learning, or learning by watching, is emphasized. People may acquire behavior without performance of it. One particular type of observational learning is vicarious conditioning, where an emotional response (e.g. fear of snakes) is learned by watching someone else's emotional reaction.
  • Growth and Development: Again, observational learning is important. Self-efficacy beliefs are also seen as an influence, as they impact the situations chosen, persistence, performance, effort, emotion, and coping ability. Children are seen as being able to develop expectancies based on three types of experienced consequences: externally imposed rewards and punishments like those of the behaviorists, internal motivations like pride and guilt, and vicarious experiencing of consequences, as discussed in process.
  • Psychopathology: This is sometimes related to learned response patterns, as with the behaviorists, but there are other explanations as well. Distorted expectancies of pain can influence behavior, and poor self-efficacy beliefs are associated with depression, anxiety, and poor health in general.
  • Change: Change is behavioral, but in keeping with the social aspect of this theory, it involves modeling or guided participation, where an individual who is capable of the desired behavior either demonstrates it or helps the individual desirous of change to perform it herself. Education that improves self-efficacy beliefs is also seen as helpful.

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