Albert Bandura on Behavior Therapy, Self Efficacy & Modeling
by Albert Bandura
In this enlightening conversation with one of the most prolific and influential psychologists of all time, Dr. Albert Bandura relates the breakthrough moments leading to the development of social cognitive theory and his theories of social learning, guided mastery, and self-efficacy.

Part of the 8-video series: Perspectives in Behavior Therapy
In this engaging interview, the founder of social cognitive theory and the theory of self-efficacy reveals his early fascination with the wide-ranging effects of behavior modification. The “spillover” effect from one behavior to other areas of functioning made it possible to radically improve people’s lives with relatively small changes in behavior. Believing that there must be more instances of this phenomenon, he set out to find them, compiling and distilling what he learned into his first article on the uses of learning theory for therapy.

In this conversation with Toni Zeiss, Bandura also examines the contributions of behavioral insight for psychotherapy, including the significance of social environments in shaping personality and behavior, the ability to conduct more rigorous clinical research, and the extended purview of therapy to include prevention work. He argues that while important, these contributions were not adequate, as “I was also marshaling a lot of evidence that these conditioning processes were, in fact, cognitively mediated.” By then outlining the conceptual model and process of guided mastery, Bandura provides a very useful clinical tool that therapists of any orientation can easily integrate in their practice.

Not only was he instrumental in developing groundbreaking theories about how we learn, Bandura also worked to apply his theories to pressing social issues on a global scale. Before social justice became widely acknowledged as a critical aspect of applied psychology, Bandura was involved in a project broadcasting soap operas in developing nations in which women were portrayed exercising control over their reproductive health. From his famous Bobo doll experiment all the way through his recent work in societal change processes, Bandura describes the evolution of his theories and their application through vivid stories of his breakthrough moments.

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While all students of psychology recognize Bandura’s name, his work most cited in the textbooks does little to reveal the man behind the ideas. This interview offers a glimpse at the life of a truly remarkable pioneer in the field. Bandura exemplifies the wisdom of keeping an open and curious mind in how we approach the practice of therapy and the ever-evolving knowledge base about the nature of change. His thirst for knowledge, discipline and dedication to the field are inspiring to witness.
By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn the core principles of social cognitive theory, and the theories of social learning, guided mastery, and self-efficacy.
  • Delineate the general branches of thought in behavioral therapy.
  • Describe the research behind Bandura’s key contributions to therapy
  • Identify key contributions of behavior therapy

Length of video: 00:54:34

Number of Discs: 0

English subtitles available on: Stream

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Albert Bandura is the David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University and the author of ten books, including Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control and Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. For nearly six decades, he has been responsible for contributions to many fields of psychology, including social cognitive theory, therapy, personality psychology, self-efficacy, and was also influential in the transition between behaviorism and cognitive psychology.

It was during his studies on adolescent aggression that Bandura became interested in vicarious learning, modeling and imitation. Out of this work came Social Learning Theory, which Bandura is best known for. The theory stresses the importance of observational learning, imitation and modeling. He famously made the case for social learning in the 1961 Bobo doll study. In the experiment, Bandura made a film in which a woman was shown beating up a Bobo doll and shouting aggressive words. The film was then shown to a group of children. Afterwards, the children were allowed to play in a room that held a Bobo doll. The children immediately began to beat the doll, imitating the actions and words of the woman in the film. Social Learning Theory, unlike traditional Behaviorism, posits a continuous interaction between behaviors and the environment, mediated by cognition.

In recent years, Bandura has been involved with the development and dispersion of serial dramas in developing nations, using the tenets of Social Learning Theory to influence social change in reproductive health and women’s rights. The dramas are much more effective to influence social norms than documentaries because the powerful emotional ties formed with audiences increase the likelihood that the audience will model the behavior in the dramas.

Perhaps equally important to Social Learning Theory is Bandura’s work on self-efficacy. While investigating the processes by which modeling alleviates phobic disorders in snake-phobics, he found that self-efficacy beliefs (belief in one’s own capabilities to alleviate one’s phobia) mediated changes in behavior and in fear-arousal. He launched a major program of research examining the influential role of self-referent thought in psychological functioning, which has had a considerable impact on the field of psychotherapy.

CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the core principles of social cognitive theory, and the theories of social learning, guided mastery, and self-efficacy.
  • Delineate the general branches of thought in behavioral therapy.
  • Describe the research behind Bandura’s key contributions to therapy
  • Identify key contributions of behavior therapy
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