A basic principle of social cognitive theory is that a person’s functioning is based on three pathways of reciprocal interaction – personal, behavioral and environmental factors – and what he believes about himself and the experiences of others.
While recognizing the import of environmental factors, social cognitive theory postulates that an individual can plan, direct and self-regulate his own learning and behavioral outcomes. She says that people learn by watching others, but they don’t necessarily evidence learning until they are personally motivated to do so.
Observational learning , as described in social cognitive theory, requires that an individual pay attention to what he is observing, retain the information he observes and transform it for later use. The observer’s perception of the expected results of a behavior affects his production of the behavior. If he believes that the observed result is negative, he may choose not to produce the observed behavior. Likewise, if he expects a positive result from the behavior he observed and then does not receive the same positive response from others, he is likely to avoid the behavior in the future.
Cognitive social theory also postulates that individuals learn according to goals they have set for themselves internally and with their belief in their ability to succeed, both of which help to manage their learning. The sense of your own ability to succeed depends on your own observations, comments from others, and your personal psychological state.