Application Of Psychological Theories To Social Care

In this assignment it will give a summary of Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people learn from one. The assignment will discuss the bridge between behaviourist and cognitive learning theories. The assignment will explain and determine the cause of an event or behaviour and why people do what they do in terms of their behaviour, it will also give examples in order to brake the psychology down in order to be able to understand it better, The assignment will give two theories of child development it will discuss and evaluate, it will also have an example with an image of scaffolding.. In the final piece of the assignment it will give detail on how I hope to use psychology in my future.

Bandura argues that People learn through observing others behaviour, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviours. “Most human behaviour is learned observationally through modelling from observing others an example of this is a child is watching The Simpsons, Bart Simpson is miss behaving in school, the child then observes the behaviour, the child will then go to school and repeat the bad behaviour, this is done through observation, Banduras theory states that one forms an idea of how new behaviours’ are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” (Bandura) The Social learning theory explains human behaviour in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioural, and environmental influences.

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Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, this is the world and a person’s behaviour cause each other, while behaviourism states that an individual’s environment causes the individuals behaviour for example a teenager that has grown up on a ruff council estate, that is full of junkies and violent behaviour which is their environment, The individual does nothing but swear, fight and bully others on the estate, this is the individuals behaviour. Bandura would argue this is all due to the individuals’ environment. Bandura studied adolescent aggression, he found it is too simplistic, so in addition he suggested that behaviour causes environment as well. Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components the environment, behaviour, and an individual psychological processes, this is the ability to entertain images in minds and language.

The Social learning theory has been called a bridge between behaviourists and cognitive learning theories; the reason for this is it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation. The theory is related to Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory and Lave’s Situated Learning, which also emphasize the importance of social learning.According to the social learning theory, aggressive behaviours are learned thorough reinforcement and the imitation of aggressive models (Bandura,1965,1973 and 1994)

Imitation is the reproduction of learning through observation this is observation learning,and it involves observing other people who serve as models for behaviour, Bandura (1961,1963) demonstrated how child’s aggressive tendencies can be strengthened though various reinforcement, this means seeing others being rewarded for behaving aggressively.

An example of this is a teenage boy does not like taking maths, so he begging’s to be disruptive( hitting the back of his chair), the teacher then dismisses him from the room because he is causing disruption to others learning, the boy gets rewarded. The teacher asked to leave the class room for his aggression towards the chair. This is called reinforcement, There is some evidence that shows the effects of observed aggression; Banduara had three, four and five year old children who were exposed to an adult model behaving aggressively towards an inflated plastic babo doll, Later the children were allowed to play with the doll themselves. The number of acts from the children was aggression towards the babo dolls.

Bandura made the important distinction between learning and performance, learning of aggressive responses does not mean that they will be displayed in the child’s behaviour , failure to imitate does not imply the absence of learning, e.g. bandura (1965) showed that when children who had seen the model being punished for his behaviour were themselves offered rewards for behaving aggressively, they showed they have learned the models behaviours just as well as those who saw the behaviours being positively reinforced.

However according to Zillman (1982), arousal from one source can be transferred to, and energise, some other response. This is because arousal takes time to dissipate. When we’re aroused, aggression may be heightened if the aroused person has some disposition to react aggressively, and the arousal is incorrectly attributed to the aggression, provoking event rather than to correct a source. Zilllman and Bryant (1974) did a test they created states of arousal in participants by requiring them to ride bicycles. In some high levels of arousal were induced, while others low levels were induced. Participants then played a game, during the game they were verbally insulted by a stooge, when participants were later given the opportunity to deliver a harsh noise in the headphones worn by the stooge; more noise was delivered by highly aroused participants. pg.501. (Richard Gross, 2005)

(Theory 2) Attribution Theory (Weiner)

Weiner developed a theoretical framework that has become very influential in social psychology today. Attribution theory assumes that people try to determine why people do what they do, that is, interpret causes to an event or behaviours. The three-stage process underlies an attribution, here are the following three:-

1. Behaviour must be observed/ perceived

2. Behaviour must be determined to be intentional

3. Behaviour attributed to internal or external causes

Weiner’s attribution theory is mainly about achievement, According to him the most important factors affecting attributions are ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck. Attributions are classified along three causal dimensions which are, locus of control (two poles: internal vs. external), stability (do causes change over time or not?) and controllability (causes one can control such as skills vs. causes one cannot control such as luck, others’ actions, etc.)

When an individual succeeds, the individual attributes successes internally (“Their own skill”). When a rival succeeds, the individual tends to credit external (e.g. luck). An example of this is when an individual interrupts in the class room the individual will succeed; this then means they have their own skill to do so. When other class mates find the disruptive individual funny this then leads to credit external which means the disruptive student just got lucky.

When an individual fails or makes mistakes, they are more likely use external attribution, attributing causes to situational factors rather than blaming them selves. When others fail or make mistakes, internal attribution is often used, saying it is due to their internal personality factors.

An example of this is when a student is being disruptive towards the whole class, and their attributes do not succeed (student does not get attention from other class mates)which is not their own skill, this then leads to bad luck, the student is not lucky, the individual will use external attribution and blame others rather than themselves because they did not succeed to credit external.( get lucky) Attribution is a three stage process: (1) behaviour is observed, (2) behaviour is determined to be deliberate, and (3) behaviour is attributed to internal or external causes. Achievement can be attributed to (1) effort, (2) ability, (3) level of task difficulty, or (4) luck. Causal dimensions of behaviour are (1) locus of control, (2) stability, and (3) controllability.

In his part of the assignment it will discuss and evaluate two different theories about child development.

The Stages of Cognitive Development (Piaget’)

Sensori-motor from Birth-2 yrs, Piaget believes that the differentiates self from objects Recognises self as agent of action and begins to act intentionally: e.g. pulls a string to set mobile in motion or shakes a rattle to make a noise Achieves object permanence: realises that things continue to exist even when no longer present to the sense (pace Bishop Berkeley)

Pre-operational of 2-7 years learns to use language and to represent objects by images and words Thinking is still egocentric: has difficulty taking the viewpoint of others classifies objects by a single feature: e.g. groups together all the red blocks regardless of shape or all the square blocks regardless of colour

Concrete operational of 7-11 years can think logically about objects and events Achieves conservation of number (age 6), mass (age 7), and weight (age 9) classifies objects according to several features and can order them in series along a single dimension such as size.

Formal operational of 11 years and up can think logically about abstract propositions and test hypotheses systematically. Becomes concerned with the hypothetical, the future, and ideological problems

The accumulating evidence is that this scheme is too rigid: many children manage concrete operations earlier than he thought, and some people never attain formal operations (or at least are not called upon to use them).

Piaget’s approach is central to the school of cognitive theory known as “cognitive constructivism”: other scholars, known as “social constructivists”, such as Vygotsky and Bruner, have laid more emphasis on the part played by language and other people in enabling children to learn. And the combination of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology is beginning to suggest that the overall developmental model is based on dubious premises.

Stages of development Vygotsky, language is an important mediator (sign), although below the age of two it is used merely to communicate with others. However, after this time speech is used to solve problems, or in other words to transform elementary mental functions into higher mental functions. Vygotsky describes the following types of speech: Social speech (below 2 years old) Speech used for communication and has no relation to cognition. Social aspects of speech are separate from intellectual aspects.

Social speech (below 2 years old) Speech used for communication and has no relation to cognition. Social aspects of speech are separate from intellectual aspects.

Egocentric speech (2 – 7 years old) Children use speech to form thoughts and regulate intellectual function. They talk to themselves, as they cannot internalise, using it to guide behaviour

Inner speech (7 years onwards) Language is still used to regulate thoughts, but the child can use it internally

Vygotsky criticised Piaget’s emphasis on the child’s interaction with the environment, claiming that Piaget ignores the role of social interaction. Vygotsky, in contrast, sees the child as an apprentice who learns through interacting with others rather than as a scientist acting alone.

Vygotsky claims that children experience abrupt changes in their ability to solve problems.

This is the result of being taught culturally specific mediators by others which then allow them to think at a higher level.

Older children think qualitatively differently to younger children. At each successive stage, it’s not just a matter of doing something better, but of doing a different thing altogether. There are 4 stages which are Stage 1: Sensorimoter Period (0-2 years), Stage 2: Pre-operational stage (2-7 years), Stage 3: Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years) and Stage 4: Formal Operational Stage (11+ years)

The Development is the combined result of maturation of the brain and nervous system the experiences that help children adapt to new environments – adaptation: an organism’s ability to fit in with its environment (through the process of assimilation and accommodation). The Criticisms of Piaget is that her Underestimated the ability of children the Tasks were methodologically flawed, as several studies have shown Piaget underestimated the abilities of children because his tests were sometimes confusing or difficult to understand. Piaget underestimated the impact of CULTURE; Piaget’s tasks are culturally biased. Schooling and literacy affect rates of development e.g. Greenfield’s study of the Wolof, a Formal operational thinking is not universal and e.g. Gladwin’s study of the Polynesian islanders

The Methodological issues that Piaget used naturalistic observations of his own children when they were only a few weeks old. The tendency for observers to be biased can be counteracted by using two or more observers (re: inter-observer reliability), but Piaget observed and made notes alone. Generalisations should not be made from research such as this, but Piaget did generalise and many of his ideas on sensori -motor and pre-operational stages are based on these observations.

Lev Vygotsky thought Because Piaget concentrated on the individual child, he failed to consider the effect that the social setting may have on cognitive development. The way that adults use language and gestures and the child’s experience through social interactions are very influential on cognitive development (re: Vygotsky).

Lev Vygotsky 1896 – 1934 Work remained little known because it was banned by Stalin after Vygotsky’s death Collapse of the Soviet Union meant: greater dialogue between the West and Russia, Vygotsky’s work translated into English. Vygotsky’s Main Ideas were developing the concept of Social Cognition (aka Social Development Theory of Learning), which proposes that: Social Interaction and culture has a dramatic impact on cognitive development. Cognitive processes (language, thought, reasoning) develop through social interaction. Learning is largely mediated by social interaction of students and “More Knowledgeable Others” (e.g. teachers, parents, coaches, peers, experts, etc.)

The Zone of Proximal Development, Vygotsky centred much of his research on a phenomenon he coined as “the Zone of Proximal Development,” Vygotsky stated: “The zone of proximal development defines those functions that have not yet matured, but are in the process (of doing so)aˆ¦” “aˆ¦what is the zone of proximal development today will be the actual development level tomorrow that is, what a child can do with assistance today she/he will be able to do by herself tomorrow”. In this case “proximal” means what comes next. The idea is that a child is only able to take the next step in their cognitive development if another person typically an adult supports and prompts them to do so; this sort of assistance has been called scaffolding. Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) developed Vygotsky’s notion of a zone of proximal development. They introduced the concept of scaffolding, which refers to the context provided by knowledgeable people such as adults to help children to develop their cognitive skills. An important aspect of scaffolding is that there is a gradual withdrawal of support as the child’s knowledge and confidence increase.

Freund (1990) conducted a study in which children had to decide which items of furniture should be placed in particular houses of a dolls house. Some children were allowed to play with their mother in a similar situation before they attempted it alone (zone of proximal development) whilst others were allowed to work on this by themselves (Piaget’s discovery learning). Freund found that those who had previously worked with their mother (ZPD) showed greatest improvement compared with their first attempt at the task. The conclusion being that guided learning within the ZPD led to greater understanding/performance than working alone (discovery learning).

Scaffolding Example

Left to his own devices, could this boy make his sister a birthday cake? His mother uses scaffolding to create a situation in which he can begin to move into a zone of proximal development.

In this part of the assignment it will evaluate how piaget and Vygotsky had there different believes towards child development, The Difference between Piaget and Vygotsky is that Piaget believed that the most important source of cognition is the children themselves. Piaget emphasised the role of an inbuilt (biological) tendency to adapt to the environment, by a process of self-discovery and play.

Vygotsky emphasised the role of culture and experience. Vygotsky believed that what drives cognitive development is social interaction a child’s experience with other people, Culture shapes cognition. The Language and Thought for Piaget is language is a product of cognitive development, In other words cognitive development determines language use. Vygotsky believed that language develops from social interactions, for communication purposes. Later language ability becomes internalised as thought and “inner speech”. Thought is the result of language. In other words, a social interaction determines language use.

Piaget emphasised universal cognitive change. Vygotsky’s theory can be applied to all ages (not a stage theory) and emphasised individual development. The Discovery of Learning (Education) Piaget advocated discovery learning with little teacher intervention. Vygotsky promoted guided discovery in the classroom.

In the final part of the assignment I will give information on how I hope to use this module (perspectives on human behaviour) in future.

Taking this module will help me understand life a lot better and why individuals around us do the things they do, taking this module will help me in many different areas such as when I may be at home and I see how my younger siblings develop from early child hood to late child hood and so forth , this course has also helped me understand why my older ones siblings see things differently to an adolescences, I can see the theory in particle. In the future I can educate my friends and family and give them reasons for why we have such disturbed people in the world and why they are that way, taking this course is making more of an open minded person because it is all making sense. Psychology even answers my own thoughts and questions; this module has helped me open my eyes wider to the world that I live in, and for me to be more aware of what is going on around me, and the exact people who are around me in this community.

Taking this module has helped my knowledge develop to a whole next level it will continue to grow through out my whole life, you never stop learning, I see a reason behind action/ actions, I did take psychology in college on a BTEC National Health and social care course, I achieve a distinction. I am glad I am repeating psychology again the reason being is I am learning though the eyes of some one else and how they see psychology at a different level to before, so it will be a challenge to give the tutors what they want to see in assignment.

This module will help me in my future career which is to become a social worker, the module will help me understand why families are In the situation that they may be in, it may all boil back down to the parents early child. How they may have been raised. Or abused etc, physiology is all in the mind and how the mind works, the mind to me is like a theory of what is going to happen and the body is a practical making it happen. This course has helped me understand that, the reason for behind poor estates is there is always bad behaviour, is it is not the child/children’s fault it is the environment that causes them to act this way, same for a higher class families, they do not choose to act above others it is their environment that forces them to act in a particular way, in future I may choose a different career path who knows.. I wouldn’t mind studying child psychology or mental health, so I can go in to further depth and understand the brain a lot more, I find it so interesting and so fascinating


Atherton j s (2009) Learning and Teaching; Piaget’s developmental theory [On-line] UK: Available: Accessed: 10 January 2010

Gross, r (2005). Psychology the science and mind behaviour. 5th ed. London: British Library.

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2010, January). Social Development Theory (Vygotsky) at Retrieved January 28th, 2010 from

McLods, s. o (2007) Simply Psychology [On-line] UK: Available: Accessed: 12 December, 2010

Keenan, t & evans, s (2009) an introduction to child development. London: micheal J.Smithson.

Walsh, K (2008) Vygotsky’s Theory of Social Development A Level psychology resources, Available: http:// Last Accessed 12h January, 2010

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