Observational learning is very important for the development of people. Much of the skills we learn depend on observing the behavior of others, especially during childhood.
In this article we will describe what modeling is, One of the terms used to describe certain facets of social learning. We will also explain the processes that allow modeling and the types of modeling that exist.
What is modeling?
Modeling is a type of learning based on imitation of the behavior performed by a modelUsually another person. This process takes place daily and can be used as a therapeutic technique to facilitate the acquisition and modification of behaviors.
The term “modeling” has a meaning similar to that of “Imitation”, “social learning”, “observational learning” and “proxy learning”. Each of these concepts emphasizes a different characteristic of this type of learning.
So while “modeling” highlights the fact that there is a model to emulate, “social learning” is a broad concept that emphasizes the role of this process in socialization, and “l ‘proxy learning’ means that the consequences of the model’s behavior are learned by the observer.
Modeling has different functions. mostly it is used to acquire new behaviors, For example, manual skills, but can also inhibit or uninhibit behaviors; it depends on the person’s expectations of the consequences.
We consider that Albert Bandura is the most eminent author in the field of modeling and social learning. The experiment he conducted in 1963 with Richard Walters is well known, it shows that children imitate or do not imitate the behavior of adults depending on whether they see that they are rewarded or punished.
According to Bandura, learning by modeling is done through verbal and imaginative mediation: when we learn by imitation, we do it through symbolic representations of observed behaviors and its consequences.
For this author, there are four processes by which the behavior is acquired and executed. Attention and retention are necessary for the acquisition of the target behavior, while reproduction and motivation are necessary for execution.
People only learn new behaviors through observation if we are able to. pay attention to the behavior of the model. Different types of variables facilitate or hinder the process of care.
For example, we more easily imitate role models who resemble us in their physical or social characteristics, as well as those we perceive as prestigious and who receive greater rewards.
The probability of learning by imitation also depends on the subject himself; thus, anxiety and sensory deficits, such as blindness, make it difficult to pay attention to the model. On the other hand, we tend to imitate others to a greater extent. if the situation is uncertain and the task has medium difficulty.
To be able to imitate a behavior, it is necessary to be able to represent it in the form of images or verbally without the model being present. Cognitive examination of the model’s behavior is very important for retention.
Yours is another relevant variable to maintain learning meaning, that is, we can associate it with other prior learning. Of course, the physical characteristics of the person also influence; for people with dementia, for example, it is much more difficult to acquire a behavior.
Reproduction is the process by which learning turns into behavior. First an action scheme is generated equivalent to what is observed; then the behavior is initiated and the result is compared to such a mental pattern. Finally, corrective adjustments are made to bring the actual behavior closer to the ideal.
Learning can take place without the imitation being performed; whether this ultimately happens depends on the functional value the person places on the learned behavior. The expectation of reinforcement comes into play in this process.
There must be one likelihood of obtaining driving incentives; these can be direct, but also by proxy and self-produced. Therefore, motivational processes are essential in imitation.
Types of modeling
Different types of modeling are categorized based on many different variables, such as the difficulty of the behavior to imitate, the ability of the model, or the social suitability of the behavior. Let’s see what they are the most important types of modeling.
1. Active or passive
We speak of active modeling when the observer imitates the behavior of the model after having observed it. In contrast, in passive modeling, behavior is acquired but not executed.
2. Objective conduct or intermediate conduct
The criterion of distinction in this case is the difficulty in imitating behavior. If the target behavior is simple, it can be modeled directly; however, the more complex it is, the more difficult it will be to reproduce it, so in these cases it is broken down into different, simpler behaviors called “intermediaries”.
3. Positive, negative or mixed
In positive modeling, the learned behavior is considered appropriate by the social environment while in the negative a disruptive behavior is acquired. For example, when a child sees his father assaulting his mother. In the case of mixed modeling, we learn inappropriate behavior, then acceptable behavior.
4. Live, symbolic or secret
In this case, the relevant variable is the way the model is presented. If present, it is live modeling; if it is observed indirectly, com in a video recording, the modeling is symbolic; finally, we speak of secret modeling if the learner does so by imagining the behavior of the model.
5. Individual or group
Individual modeling occurs when only one observer is present, while in the group the number of people learning the behavior is greater.
6. Single or multiple
The distinction is similar to that of the previous case, although the number of models varies and not that of observers. When the modeling is multiple the generalization of learning is greater because the subject is exposed to different behavioral alternatives.
7. Model the car
sometimes the mannequin is the same as the one observed; in these cases we call the process “self-modeling”. Symbolic self-modeling through video montages has been very useful for the treatment of selective mutism.
8. Participatory and non-participatory
We speak of participatory modeling when the observer interacts with the model, Who can also administer reinforcements; this would happen in the case of therapists or speech language pathologists, for example. On the other hand, in non-participatory modeling, the subject is not linked to the model but only knows the consequences of his behavior.
9. Control or adaptation
The criterion which distinguishes these two types of modeling is the degree of competence of the model. In domain modeling, the person to be imitated from the start has the ability to perform the target behavior correctly, without errors.
On the other hand, coping models acquire skills necessary to carry out the behavior, similar to the process that will take place in the observer. This type of modeling is considered to tend to be more efficient than the domain because it is more meaningful to the observer.