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Topics: Knowledge, Developmental psychology, Observation Pages: 7 (2314 words) Published: October 18, 2013
Classical Conditioning Versus OpeObservational Learning: Ways to Benefit From Observation Observational Learning: Ways to Benefit From Observation

Observational learning (social learning) is learning by the experience of others. People naturally tend to imitate, or model the behavior of significant others (Nairne 250). An observer's behavior can be affected by the positive or negative consequences--called vicarious reinforcement or vicarious punishment-- of a model's behavior. The observer will react to the way the model is treated and mimic the model's behavior (Funderstanding par. 1). When the model's behavior is rewarded during vicarious reinforcement the observer is more likely to repeat the rewarded behavior. When the model is punished during vicarious punishment the observer is less likely to repeat the same behavior (Funderstanding par. 4).

When someone is learning, their attention on the model is very important because this is when they receive information. While information is being retained it is processed together with prior knowledge until they arrive at conclusions and understanding. Finally, one can apply what they have learned or test for confirmation (Elkington par. 9). During observation learning one will watch a model and mentally store what they did. This symbol can be used as a guide for their behavior even if they never actually imitated what they observed (Pellegrini 109). When a child watches another child get in trouble for hitting his brother, the observing child is most likely not to hit his sibling because he noticed the outcome was punishment. When a child notices a child receives candy when they clean their room the observing child will most likely clean their room for praise. The observing child watches and learns from the model. Now when they are introduced to the situation they are more likely to be aware of an outcome from what they’ve observed.

Some people argue that “hands on learning” is the best way to learn, but this may not be always true (Jindrich par. 9). During a hands on experience someone could possibly get hurt or experience something that is not in their best interest. They might break a leg by not knowing from observation that the road is not a safe place to play in. Not all experiences are good and there are other ways to learn than just from experiences. Observational learning provides social justice by giving someone another option to learning. One can benefit from observational learning by avoiding getting physically or mentally hurt and by learning from watching other models.

Avoiding Getting Hurt

Many times throughout life one can avoid getting physically or mentally hurt by simply observing someone else rather than experiencing it themselves. A child can learn through observing that a street is a dangerous place and not a place to play. For the child to understand this they can simply observe the road and the fast moving cars that pass. They might also notice animals that don’t move out of a car’s way in time and the consequences of that. The child does not have to discover not to play in the street by jumping out of the way of oncoming traffic in time (Nairne 250). Just through observing, they don’t have to experience the terrible consequences of playing or standing in the street. The child will not have to be yelled at, hit by a car, or something worse to learn that it is a dangerous place. This can be very beneficial in many ways. The child will remain safe and alive in this situation. Also, they won’t have physical damage to them, and their parents won’t have to live with the loss of a child. They can avoid these conditions and stay safe through observational learning. Drugs are another dangerous factor that one can learn about through observational learning (Nairne 250). Someone can learn through stories, pictures, videos, and facts that drugs are bad for a person’s health. They can take these observations and apply it to their life choices. This...

Cited: “Drug Allergy and Other Drug Reactions: Are You at Risk?” MayoClinic. 18 Nov. 2005. 17 Oct. 2007 < http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-allergy/HQ00582>.
Elkington, Don. “How do People Learn?” Learning Systems. 20 Oct. 2007
< http://www.gdrc.org/kmgmt/learning/how-people-learn.html>.
Jindrich, Susan. “How do Children Develop?” Learning System. 20 Oct. 2007
< http://www.gdrc.org/kmgmt/learning/child-learn.html>.
“---.” Funderstanding. 2001. 1 Oct. 2007
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3rd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlabaum Associates, Publishers, 1998. 108-113.
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