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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Social learning theory: criticisms

aka the Monkey See Monkey Do theory of human behavior:

"Social learning theory has been criticised. Some researchers have pointed out that this theory does not adequately explain why young boys tend to imitate other males when it is Females who are usually their primary care takers (Stainton-Rogers and Stainton-Rogers, 2001). Beal [1994] maintains that this theory does not explain why boys and girls adopt dilierent ways of being masculine and feminine and not necessarily those that are demonstrated by their parents Moreover, as Bea] [I994] comments, we all know children often do things for which they know they will be punished and fail to do things which promise a reward! This is especially true of boys, who are reluctant to engage in feminine behaviour even if they see another boy or adult male perform this behaviour."

--- An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies, edited by Trisha Maynard, Nigel Thomas


"Biological theorists argue that the social learning theory completely ignores individuals biological state. Also, they state that the social learning theory rejects the differences of individuals due to genetic, brain, and learning differences (Jeffery, 1985: p.238). For example, if a person witnessed a hanging or a violent murder, he or she might respond in many different ways. "Biological theorists believed that the responses would be normal and come from the autonomic nervous system. In the autonomic nervous system, the heart rate, increase blood pressure, nausea, and fainting would be normal symptoms of the responses that individuals might expressed in this particular situation. Therefore, the symptoms and behavior are not learned, but partially inherited. In addition, the social learning theory rejects the classical and operant conditioning processes. The biological preparedness of the individual to learn as well as the role of the brain in processing information from the social environment, are critical to learning theory, but they are ignored by the social learning theory. Social reinforcement is conditioned reinforcement based on the relationship of the conditioned stimulus to an unconditioned stimulus" (Jeffery, 1985: p.239).

Feshbach and R.D. Singer believed that television actually decreases the amount of aggression in children (Feshbach: 1971). They conducted a study within a six-week study on juvenile boys who regularly watched television violence compared to juvenile boys who were exposed to non-violent shows. After the six-week period, Feshback and R.D. Singer found out that the juvenile boys that viewed the non-violent shows were more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than the juvenile boys that witnessed the violent shows. "The study show that the violence on television allows the viewer to relate with the characters involved in the violent act (Feshback & Singer, 1971: p.247). In doing so, the viewer is able to release all aggressive thoughts and feelings through relation, causing them to be less aggressive than they would have been without watching the violent television. This theory that viewing violence on television leads to a decrease in aggression is called the Catharsis effect (Gerbner,G., Gross,L., Melody,W.H., pg.40).

Cooke believed that individuals tend to support the theory that television violence causes aggression because the public needs to justify the aggression they see in others. He also believed television was a form of education and positive role models. "If violence in television causes people to be more aggressive, than shouldn’t the good-hearted qualities in television cause its audience to be kinder to others (Cooke,1993, p.L19)? Therefore, television can serve as deterrence if individuals focus on the positive qualities."
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