A class of behavior that produces consequences by acting upon the environment.
The social-cognitive theory of personality emphasizes both learning and cognition as sources of individual differences in personality. It posits that portions of an individual's knowledge acquisition can be directly related to observing others within the context of social interactions, experiences, and outside media influences. This means that an individual can learn from observing others, as opposed to only being able to learn from their own experiences. This approach emphasizes both the environment and the individual's own traits as important factors in personality development.
Criticisms of the Social-Cognitive Theory
One of the main criticisms of the social-cognitive theory is that it is not a unified theory. This means that the different aspects of the theory may not be connected. For example, researchers currently cannot find a connection between observational learning and self-efficacy within the social-cognitive perspective. The theory is so broad that not all of its component parts are fully understood and integrated into a single explanation of learning and personality.
The findings associated with this theory are still, for the most part, preliminary. It does not provide a full explanation or description of how social cognition, behavior, environment, and personality are related, although there are several hypotheses.
Another limitation is that not all social learning can be directly observed. Because of this, it can be difficult to quantify the effect that social cognition has on development. Similarly, many aspects of personality are subjective and can be equally hard to measure and quantify.
Finally, this theory tends to ignore maturation throughout the lifespan. Because of this, the understanding of how a child learns through observation and how an adult learns through observation are not differentiated, and factors of development are not included.