what is social cognitive theory in education
Many theories of behavior used in health promotion do not consider maintenance of behavior, but rather focus on initiating behavior. This is unfortunate as maintenance of behavior, and not just initiation of behavior, is the true goal in public health. The goal of SCT is to explain how people regulate their behavior through control and reinforcement to achieve goal-directed behavior that can be maintained over time. The first five constructs were developed as part of the SLT; the construct of self-efficacy was added when the theory evolved into SCT.
There are several limitations of SCT, which should be considered when using this theory in public health. Limitations of the model include the following:
Observing behaviors or the effects of one’s own actions are types of social learning. Social psychology takes this one step further to explain how learning is influenced. “Social cognition has its roots in social psychology which attempts ‘to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others’ (Allport, 1985, p.3)” (Huitt, 2006, para. 1). The presence of others has a great push in how people act, but in order to understand how great the social influence is, we must first examine the role of the ‘self.’
Huitt, W. (2006). Social cognition. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved Mar. 13, 2009, from http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/soccog/soccog.html .
Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) proposes that the environment, behavior, and personal and cognitive factors all interact as determinants of each other [5,14] . According to this theory, human functioning is described in terms of a number of basic capabilities: symbolizing capability, forethought capability, vicarious capability (ability to learn through observation/imitation/modeling others’ behaviors and attitude), self-regulatory capability, and self-reflective capability.
When examining the role of self-efficacy in drinking, researchers have most often studied the role of an individual’s belief in their ability to resist drinking (refusal self-efficacy). Refusal self-efficacy is an important predictor of drinking and intention to drink alcohol in children and adolescents. Longitudinal designs have been used to predict teenagers’ alcohol and drug use from cognitive and social variables, including refusal self-efficacy. Regardless of whether the participants had experience with alcohol use, refusal self-efficacy was predictive of alcohol use 9 months later. Research by Hasking and Oei has confirmed that in addition to demonstrated salience in clinical and adolescent samples, drinking refusal self-efficacy can discriminate problem and nonproblem drinkers and high- and low-risk drinkers in community samples.
The prosocial potential of media models has been demonstrated through serial dramas that were produced for developing communities on issues such as literacy, family planning, and the status of women. These dramas have been successful in bringing about positive social change, while demonstrating the relevance and applicability of social cognitive theory to media.
In addition to the information models can convey during observational learning, models can also increase or decrease the observer’s belief in their self-efficacy to enact observed behaviors and bring about desired outcomes from those behaviors. When people see others like them succeed, they also believe they can be capable of succeeding. Thus, models are a source of motivation and inspiration.
Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) describes the influence of individual experiences, the actions of others, and environmental factors on individual health behaviors. SCT provides opportunities for social support through instilling expectations, self-efficacy, and using observational learning and other reinforcements to achieve behavior change.
Health Promotion by Social Cognitive Means
Examines social cognitive theory in the context of health promotion and disease prevention. Describes how health motivators and behaviors are influenced by the interaction of individual beliefs, environment, and behaviors.
Authors(s): Bandura, A.
Citation: Health Education & Behavior, 31(2), 143-164