I Wanna Be Like You!

Up next on the chopping block is the social cognitive theory. Coined by Albert Bandura, the social cognitive theory is said to be helpful for analysing how mass media can be a socialising reference.

Let’s take a look at how, shall we?

Bandura assumes that the way we acquire knowledge is through observation of other people, and we choose whether to model or mimic their behaviours depending on if they are rewarded or punished. Because media provides so many characters and personalities in such a broad scope of environments and situations, we say it has the propensity to be a socialising reference.

Photo Credit: mclelun.com

Pretty straightforward, right?

When we observe a television personality exhibiting a certain behaviour, our urges to model that behaviour are mediated by two effects. If the model is punished, it is likely to inhibit us from modifying our behaviour to mimic that of the model. If it is rewarded, we are more likely to model the behaviour.

If we see models being punished or rewarded, the expected outcome is that modelling that behaviour produces the same outcome. We attach a certain value (whether great or small) to the expected outcome based on the extent of reward or punishment, which determines how much social learning occurs; this is done while bearing in mind that different things are rewarding or punishable to different people.

Different strokes for different folks, they say!

Two more things determine whether or not we model behaviour. First, how much we identify with the person. The stronger the psychological connection we feel, the more likely we are to model the behaviour; this is where part of our identity comes from. Next, our self-efficacy. If we change our behaviour depends largely on whether we think we have the confidence and the capacity to perform the desirable behaviour.


In the Real World…

I’m not even going to beat around the bush with this one, simply because while I was getting the information about this theory from my lecture and my readings (and rereading my notes again), this example could not stay out of my head. Honestly, the more I read, the more I kept saying to myself “This is so Tyler!”

Allow me to elucidate. (Let’s hope I do them justice)

Image result for naruto uzumakiFor anyone out there who has ever watched Naruto, you’ll get this in a heartbeat. But even if you haven’t this’ll make complete sense I promise you. So Naruto is a super popular anime about the development of ninja over their lives. We first meet Naruto, who’s this outcast orphan that seems to get on everyone’s nerves, but we come to realise that he’s probably one of the most selfless lovable idiots we’ll see on television.

He has this can-do attitude, protects his friends, his village and his beliefs stubbornly (mostly at his own expense) and he never EVER gives up. NEVER. Naysayers be damned, Naruto just doesn’t quit. His personal motto is “Believe It” for crying out loud.

My friend Tyler…let’s say he pretty much admitted to living and breathing Naruto. I’ll admit I didn’t even watch the thing until last year but the more I watched it, the more I understood.

You see, my friend first identified with Naruto because he too felt outcast. Tyler’s isn’t orphaned or anything, but he’s the oddball type that people never really understood. Like Naruto, he’s the type that never gives up no matter how many people say he should. Not on his friends, or his dreams. And what’s his reward? The knowledge that, just like Naruto, he’ll become the best person he can possibly be.

What better reward is there than that?

Cyndi, the Theory Analyst



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