Albert Bandura: biography of one of the most influential psychologists

Albert Bandura is one of the best known psychologists in the history of the science of human behavior.

He has the honor of being recognized as the most important living psychologist and has been compared to others already dead of Freud’s stature. However, his thinking is not at all Freudian, nor behaviorist as many still believe today.

Ideologist of social learning theory and a very prolific author, his life is marked by a great contribution to psychology and by changing the view of learning in the middle of the last century. Let’s look at his interesting life through a brief biography of Albert Bandura, In which we will also see his contributions to psychology.

    Biography of Albert Bandura

    He then talks in more depth about the events in the life of this Canadian psychologist.

    1. Early years

    Albert Bandura was born in Mundare, Canada, December 4, 1925. His family, of Ukrainian and Polish origin, was large, which is why, from his childhood, Bandura, who was the youngest of six siblings, showed an ability to fend for himself.

    Living in a relatively small village, the local education did not always have everything needed to teach everything the students needed. Therefore, his teachers encouraged him to take care of his own learning outside of the classroom.

    While at school, Bandura realized that knowledge is a bit unstable, which changes over time, Either because new discoveries are discovered or because the information becomes obsolete.

    However, he also saw that the tools he had acquired for his own research were of great use to him to update itself over the years. It is possible that this influenced their adult opinion about the importance that the pupil acquires in his own educational process.

    2. University education

    Although Bandura initially intended to study biology, he eventually chose to continue his university education in psychology, particularly at the University of British Columbia.

    Albert Bandura’s way of behaving during his college years is surprising. He liked to go several hours before the start of classes at his university and, out of boredom, he decided to enroll in several additional subjects. It was in these subjects that he came into contact with the science of human behavior., Arousing great fascination.

    It only took three years to complete his college education, graduate in 1949, and later he decided to study for his Masters in Clinical Psychology at the University of Iowa, USA, obtaining the diploma in 1952.

    3. Professional life

    After completing his master’s and later doctorate, Albert Bandura he received an offer to work at Stanford University, In which he remained for the rest of his life and, to this day, remains as a teacher, although emeritus.

    During his beginnings as a teacher at the institution, the psychologist focused on offering his classes in the most effective way in addition to initiating research on adolescent aggression.

    Overtime, he was gaining a deeper insight into imitation behavior, Formulation of hypotheses and theories on aspects such as behavioral imitation, with or without rewards or punishments after the execution of the action.

    These early interests in these aspects gradually evolved into what is perhaps Albert Bandura’s best-known theory, the theory of social learning.

    The Bobo doll: social learning theory

    The Bobo Doll Experiment is arguably the most famous imitation behavior research ever carried out by Albert Bandura.

    This research was carried out in 1961 and consisted of having several children watch a movie and others not. It showed several adults physically and verbally assaulting an inflatable doll named Bobo. Then both the children who had seen the film and those who were not taken to a room where Bobo was. The children who had seen the video they behaved in a similar way to how the adults had done, being violent with the doll.

    This discovery was a great discovery in the 1960s, as it clashed with the main idea of ​​behaviorism, which held that human behavior was motivated only by the presence of rewards and punishment, and not mere behavior without imitation. no reward.

    Therefore, children imitated adults without receiving anything in return. Vicarious learning has been formally demonstrated, and through this experience, Bandura was able to develop his well-known theory of social learning.

    Social learning theory seeks to understand how the acquisition of knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and ways of thinking of the person in relation to the social environment. The premise behind this theory is that learning is a cognitive process that cannot be detached from the context in which it occurs, be it family, school or any other type.

    As we have already mentioned, the general view of psychology in the middle of the last century, especially in the United States, was behaviorist, arguing that learning was a process that resulted from a series of rewarded or punished actions. .

    But Bandura proved the opposite, that rather, learning was the result of imitating the child by seeing as much as his parents and other adults do certain actions. This involved including in behaviors a whole behavioral repertoire seen in their immediate social environment, as well as acquiring the same ways of seeing the world and relating to it. All this without the need for reinforcements.

    While it should be noted that reinforcements and punishments are important aspects in the acquisition of certain behaviors, it should not be assumed that all learning will be based on conditioning. Therefore, this theory served as a bridge between behaviorism and cognitivismUnderstanding that there are learnings that work on the basis of conditioning and that others are given by imitation.

    Several postulates can be highlighted from Bandura’s social learning theory:

    1. Learning is partially cognitive

    Prior to Bandura’s experiments, it was widely accepted within the psychology community that all learning was given in response to certain environmental circumstances.

    However, social learning theory maintains that higher mental processes should not be left outThat really the individual can process the information beyond whether or not there are reinforcements that invite to reproduce the behavior.

      2. Not all learning is observable

      According to the investigation into Bandura and several of his supporters, not all learning should manifest itself externally immediately after being acquired.

      Actions such as observation, reflection and decision making, although invisible, become very important in learning and can lead to the inclusion or omission of certain behaviors.

      3. Strengthening of the vicar

      Another of the main ideas of the theory proposed by Bandura is the fact that a person can perform or inhibit their behaviors without having to be the one receiving the punishments or rewards for having achieved it.

      By observing how others behave and how it benefits or harms them, a person can change their behavior based on what they have seen.

      It is here that the concept of vicarious reinforcement acquires importance, that is, some type of beneficial or, otherwise, harmful factor, which motivates to perform or not perform a behavior. We saw that this behavior is purely human, do not not manifest in other species.

        4. The relationship between the learner and the environment

        According to the theory, the learner is not a passive individual who receives the new knowledge in a totally given way and without participating in the process.

        Rather, the person makes a whole series of changes in both their beliefs, attitudes, and ideas that you can use to change your own environment. Therefore, learning and environment are interrelated, By changing.

        Albert Bandura and his relationship with behavioralism

        Many people, and even books specializing in psychology, link the figure of Albert Bandura to that of behavioralism. However, it must be said that this author has always considered that his point of view does not coincide with all the ideas defended by behavioral psychologists.

        In fact, in his principles, this author defended the idea that it was simplistic to reduce all human behavior in terms of cause and effect relationships. However, it must be said that in several of his works, he uses specific behavioral terms, Just like the stimulus and the response, among others.

        According to Bandura himself, his view of human behavior could include in what has been called social cognitivism, a stream that departs a bit from traditional behavioralism.

        Works, merits and contributions

        Albert Bandura has the merit of being the most cited living psychologist in the world, and of all psychologists, alive and dead, being in fourth place, just behind BF Skinner, Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget. Bandura’s works, although often considered behaviorist, contributed to the so-called “cognitive revolution”, Begun in the late 1960s, affecting several areas of psychology.

        He has written a number of books, including Aggression: An Analysis of Social Learning in 1973, in which he focused on the origins of aggression and the importance it attached to being imitated by it. ‘proxy learning. Also, and not to be missed, is his work Theory of Social Learning, from 1977, which explained in detail his vision of this type of learning.

        Among the honors that this psychologist was able to show were the president of the APA in 1974, In addition to having received two awards from the same association in the 1980s and 2004 for their scientific contribution.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
        • Bandura, A. (1999b). Moral detachment in the commission of inhumanity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 193–209.
        • Bandura, A. (2001). Cognitive social theory: an agency perspective. Annual Journal of Psychology, 52, 1-26.
        • Bandura, A. and Walters, RH (1959). Aggression of adolescents. New York: Ronald Press.

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