Social cognitive theory, social learning, self-efficacy and social media

Emilio Moyano y Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura, right Image by psicologiautal via Flickr

This is a learning module for the class Contemporary Social / Mass Media Theory taught at Purdue University by Sorin Adam Matei

Social cognitive theory main tenets

Albert Bandura’s (b. 1925) career spans more than 6 decades, in which he has revolutionized our understanding of the fine relationship between social forces, individual psychology, and communication channels. His social cognitive theory, derived from the social learning perspective, creates a very interesting framework for understanding media in general and social media in particular. Opposing a narrow behaviorist perspective, which saw learning and behavior change in rather individualist terms, Bandura proposes that behaviors are socially learned through observational learning and vicarious reinforcement. He also emphasizes the role of self-efficacy (beliefs in one’s ability to affect change) in the process of social learning.

In 2001 he has published this article, which synthesizes his retrospective understanding of the larger issue of “media effects” from a social cognitive perspective.

Readings

Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication Albert Bandura 10.1207/S1532785XMEP0303_03 Media Psychology, Volume 3, Issue 3 August 2001 , pages 265 – 299

Social cognitive theory provides an agentic conceptual framework within which to analyze the determinants and psychosocial mechanisms through which symbolic communication influences human thought, affect and action. Communications systems operate through two pathways. In the direct pathway, they promote changes by informing, enabling, motivating, and guiding participants. In the socially mediated pathway, media influences link participants to social networks and community settings that provide natural incentives and continued personalized guidance, for desired change. Social cognitive theory analyzes social diffusion of new styles of behavior in terms of the psychosocial factors governing their acquisition and adoption and the social networks through which they spread and are supported. Structural interconnectedness provides potential diffusion paths; sociocognitive factors largely determine what diffuses through those paths.

Key ideas:

Social cognitive theory explains psychosocial functioning in terms of triadic reciprocal causation (Bandura, 1986). In this transactional view of self and society, personal factors in the form of cognitive, affective, and biological events, behavioral patterns, and environmental events all operate as interacting determinants that influence each other bidirectionally (Fig. 1).

People are self-organizing, proactive, self-reflecting, and self-regulating, not just reactive organisms shaped and shepherded by environmental events or
inner forces

Social cognitive theory accords a central role to cognitive, vicarious, selfregulatory, and self-reflective processes

In fact, people are proactive, aspiring organisms. Human self-regulation relies on discrepancy production as well as discrepancy reduction. People motivate and guide their actions through proactive control by setting themselves challenging goals and then mobilizing their resources, skills, and effort to fulfill them.

The capability to reflect upon oneself and the adequacy of one’s thoughts and actions is another distinctly human attribute that figures prominently in social cognitive theory. People are not only agents of action but self-examiners of their functioning. Effective cognitive functioning requires reliable ways of distinguishing between accurate and faulty thinking. In verifying thought by selfreflective means, people generate ideas, act on them, or predict occurrences from them. They then judge from the results the adequacy of their thoughts and change them accordingly. The validity and functional value of one’s thoughts are evaluated by comparing how well thoughts match some indicant of reality. Four different modes of thought verification can be distinguished. They include enactive, vicarious, social, and logical forms.

?Among the self-referent thought, none is more central or pervasive than people’s belief in their efficacy to exert control over their level of functioning and events that affect their lives. This core belief is the foundation of human agency (Bandura, 1997, 2001b). Unless people believe that they can produce desired effects and forestall undesired ones by their actions, they have little incentive to act. Efficacy beliefs influence whether people think self-enhancingly

New ideas, values, behavior patterns, and social practices are now being rapidly diffused worldwide by symbolic modeling in ways that foster a globally distributed consciousness (Bandura, 1986, 2001a). Because the symbolic environment occupies a major part of people’s everyday lives, much of the social construction of reality and shaping of public consciousness occurs through electronic acculturation.

Modeling influences convey rules for generative and innovative behavior as well. This higher level learning is achieved through abstract modeling. Rule-governed judgments and actions differ in specific content and other details while embodying the same underlying rule. For example, a model may confront moral conflicts that differ widely in content but apply the same moral standard to them. In this higher form of abstract modeling, observers extract the rule governing the specific judgments or actions exhibited by others. Once they learn the rule, they can use it to judge or generate new instances of behavior that go beyond what they have seen or heard.


SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORY: An Agentic Perspective.
Bandura, Albert
2001, Vol. 52 Issue 1, p1, 26p, 1, Accession Number: 4445594

Presents an agentic perspective regarding the social cognitive theory. Paradigm shifts in psychological theorizing; Physicalistic theory of human agency; Core features of human agency such as intentionality, forethought, self-reactiveness and self-reflectiveness; Agentic management of fortuity; Modes of human agency; Underminers of collective efficacy in changing societies.

R LaRose, MS Eastin A Social Cognitive Theory of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Model of Media Attendance.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media; Sep2004, Vol. 48 Issue 3, p358-377, 20p

Recent research explaining Internet usage has both extended and challenged the uses and gratifications approach to understanding media attendance by discovering ‘new’ gratifications and introducing powerful new explanatory variables. The present research integrates these developments into a theory of media attendance within the framework of Bandura’s (1986) Social Cognitive Theory. Respondents from 2 Midwestern states were recruited by mail to complete an online questionnaire. Structural equation modeling techniques were used to test a new model of media attendance in which active consideration of Internet uses and gratifications, moderated by Internet self-efficacy, joins habitual behavior and deficient self-regulation as determinants of media behavior. The model explained 42% of the variance in Internet usage.

Chiu et al.
Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: An integration of social capital and social cognitive theories
Decision Support Systems Volume 42, Issue 3, December 2006, Pages 1872-1888
10.1016/j.dss.2006.04.001

The biggest challenge in fostering a virtual community is the supply of knowledge, namely the willingness to share knowledge with other members. This paper integrates the Social Cognitive Theory and the Social Capital Theory to construct a model for investigating the motivations behind people’s knowledge sharing in virtual communities. The study holds that the facets of social capital — social interaction ties, trust, norm of reciprocity, identification, shared vision and shared language — will influence individuals’ knowledge sharing in virtual communities. We also argue that outcome expectations — community-related outcome expectations and personal outcome expectations — can engender knowledge sharing in virtual communities. Data collected from 310 members of one professional virtual community provide support for the proposed model. The results help in identifying the motivation underlying individuals’ knowledge sharing behavior in professional virtual communities. The implications for theory and practice and future research directions are discussed.


Lu et al.
Personal innovativeness, social influences and adoption of wireless Internet services via mobile technology
The Journal of Strategic Information Systems Volume 14, Issue 3, September 2005, Pages 245-268
10.1016/j.jsis.2005.07.003

Technology acceptance research has tended to focus on instrumental beliefs such as perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use as drivers of usage intentions, with technology characteristics as major external stimuli. Behavioral sciences and individual psychology, however, suggest that social influences and personal traits such as individual innovativeness are potentially important determinants of adoption as well, and may be a more important element in potential adopters’ decisions. This paper models and tests these relationships in non-work settings among several latent constructs such as intention to adopt wireless mobile technology, social influences, and personal innovativeness. Structural equation analysis reveals strong causal relationships between the social influences, personal innovativeness and the perceptual beliefs—usefulness and ease of use, which in turn impact adoption intentions. The paper concludes with some important implications for both theory research and implementation strategies.

 

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei – Professor of Communication at Purdue University – studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei’s teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

39 thoughts on “Social cognitive theory, social learning, self-efficacy and social media

  • October 24, 2010 at 12:30 am
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    Bandura’s social cognitive theory (2001) provides a fascinating perspective on social media by focusing our attention to how behaviors are learned and enacted. One suggestion of the theory is that individuals learn by modeling behaviors they observe. Modeling influences such as vicarious motivators and social sanction motivators have strong behavioral effects on individuals. Bandura’s writing on social sanction motivators can help us understand the recent rise in cyber bullying.

    According to Bandura (2001), two major sources of sanctions–social sanctions and internalized self-sanctions—regulate transgressive behavior. People avoid transgressive behavior because they fear that their peers will respond negatively to such behavior. Internalized standards guide an individual’s conduct. However, such standards operate only when activated, and numerous processes can cause moral reactions to become disengaged from inhumane conduct (Bandura, 1991b, 1999b).

    In the case of cyber bullying, self-regulation fails to prevent bullies from committing morally reprehensible behaviors because of dehumanization resulting from the online context of the interactions. Online, people are not “human” in the same way they are offline. They are often depicted simply by user names, avatars or profile pictures. Even when online interactions utilize streaming video, people still appear as “talking heads” without the immediacy and presence individuals convey in face-to-face interactions. As a consequence, online interactions dehumanize participants.

    From Bandura’s social cognitive theory, we know that individuals often have a hard time mistreating humanized persons without risking self-condemnation, but “self-sanctions against cruel conduct can be disengaged or blunted by dehumanization, which divests people of human qualities or invests them with bestial qualities” (2001). Cyber bullies may see the objects of their bullying as just that: objects on a screen, not human beings. Thus, their self-restraints against cruel conduct are weakened (Diener, 1977; Zimbardo, 1969) and they seem to have no trouble finding the “confidence” to bully someone who isn’t physically in their presence.

    A Google Scholar search for the term “cyber bullying” returns many studies of cyber bullying that appear in education, psychology, child development or adolescent health journals but none (on 10/23/2010) that appear in communication journals. Communication studies on cyber bullying could address questions like: What do cyber bullies report as reasons for bullying online as opposed to in person? In what online contexts is bullying most likely to manifest itself? Is the richness of mode of interaction correlated with the prevalence of bullying via it? For example, are bullies more likely to harass via textual exchanges or video postings? Does synchronicity of interaction relate to prevalence of bullying? I think that these are all questions that we may see communication research address in the near future as cyber bullying continues to spread, and social cognitive theory is a relevant lens through which to analyze many questions about the communicative nature of cyber bullying.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm
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    Social cognitive theory is a very meaningful framework for learning of media and social media. It is derived from social learning perspective, and sees the individual learning and behavior changing through observational learning and vicarious reinforcement socially, which bridges the boundary between macro-level and micro-level by giving us a new way of understating the relationships between media and its audiences.

    This new way of understanding is the changing of role that individuals play in the social systems. Social cognitive theory is different from most of others because it explains psychosocial functioning in terms of triadic reciprocal causation instead of unidirectional causation (Bandura, 1986). Not like how mass or social media be relating to the social capital or how media might shaping people’s identity we used learned, that how media creates and influences our life, the social cognitive theory explains how personal factors, behavioral patterns and environmental events all operate as interacting determinants while influencing each other bidirectionally.

    This is founded by accepting the self-development and plasticity of human, showing that people are not only products of social systems, but producers as well. Thus personal agency and social structure operate as codeterminants in an integrated causal structure.

    Social cognitive theory shows us several capabilities of human. The symbolizing capability of human enables people to gain understanding of causal relationships and expand their knowledge through cognitive processes. The self-regulatory capability results in the internal standards that serve as the basis for regulating one’s conduct. Self-reflective capability enables people to judge the quality of their thoughts. Vicarious capability states that all learning from direct experience can be achieved vicariously by observing other peoples’ actions and consequences. These capabilities present the proactivity of human that didn’t be shown obvious in the previous studies.

    Reference:
    Albert Bandura. Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication

    Reply
  • October 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm
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    In Albert Bandura’s 2001 article on social cognitive theory of mass communication, he references his earlier, related work on social learning theory, stating that “a vast amount of information about human values, styles of thinking, and behavior patterns is gained from the extensive modeling in the symbolic environment of the mass media” (Bandura, 2001). This is to say that individuals learn both from receiving rewards and punishment themselves and by watching others (through media) receive rewards and punishment. I find this and the associated research to be very interesting and I think a push for more investigation of social learning and social media is needed, as such newer platforms provide novel ways for behavioral and cognitive learning to flourish.

    Applying Bandura’s social learning theory to some forms of social media is very lucid. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and their accompanying virtual worlds foster a realm where users benefit greatly from watching other individuals receive rewards and punishments. Through observing, a user can model his or her behavior and advance within the game. For example, the world’s most popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft, allows users of all skill and levels to interact together in one expansive world. So, a new, low-level player can play and network with experienced users who have characters of the highest level. Bandura made the claim that “people motivate and guide their actions through proactive control by setting themselves challenging goals and then mobilizing their resources, skills, and effort to fulfill them” (Bandura, 2001). By watching the more respected players, newer users can learn how to gain access to better in-game gear and specific character abilities, which is the most apparent goal within most of these online role-playing games. Additionally, they can join certain alliances and guilds that allow for the development of skill and the expansion of resources.

    In their 2006 article on knowledge sharing in virtual communities, Chiu, Hsu, and Wang assert, “there is no concrete reward system in place [in virtual communities] to reinforce the mechanisms of mutual trust, interaction, and reciprocity among individuals” (Chiu, Hsu, & Wang, 2006). While in most virtual communities, namely social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, this statement has some validity, it’s clear that some communities, like the aforementioned MMORPGs, do have an established system of rewards that encourage a certain degree of dependence and communication among its users. Players can join groups and put their virtual weapons, potions, and other miscellaneous items into “guild banks.” Individuals within the guild can then draw from the collective reservoir and utilize the items most valuable to their particular character. There’s a huge level of trust and mutuality involved in such a relationship, but the benefits of taking such a risk are apparent.

    Sources:

    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3:3, 265-299.

    Chiu, C., Hsu, M., & Wang, E. (2006). Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: An integration of social capital and social cognitive theories. Decision Support Systems, 42, 1872-1888.

    Reply
    • October 26, 2012 at 10:02 am
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      Excellent summary. Now, how about we combine medium theory with Social Cognitive Learning Theory? Who would be shaped and modeled? Which aspect of our personality? Which “I”?

      Reply
  • October 22, 2012 at 12:27 am
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    Bandura (2001a) spawns a very relevant point of media effects in the sense that the media can distort social reality. However, what is even more relevant in explaining media effects is the point that we as human agents need to socially verify these media-created conceptions (p.269) in order for them to have an effect. This does not happen entirely at the individual level, but also at the social level in the sense that we compare and contrast our views with those of other human beings (p. 276). As such, this is an exciting proposition, as it infers that media messages do not have the power of reification until we measure and evaluate messages and weigh them against others’ point of view in order to find common ground that legitimates the reason for adapting a message in a positive or negative way.

    Basically, the spheres of influence have multiplied with Bandura’s theory. But also, human agency has been given several nuances (Bandura 2001b). The one mode of agency which I consider most critically is that of proxy agency (p.15). This implies that we tend to rely on others with influence to act on our behalf in order to seek desired social outcomes. However, this also has the implication that we must engage in compromise, i.e. maybe forfeit certain aspects of our own personal beliefs in order to reach the desired outcome. This process I assume is guided by trust and motivation: we give up something of our own and make part of ourselves vulnerable to others so that they may act on our behalf. But is it always the case that whom we believe to have influence on certain outcomes will always act on our behalf in the best way possible? Probably not, as those people too are situated within the multiple spheres of influence. However, we might reach new conclusions about a given outcome when influence flows through so many variables.

    The point I want to make with this post is that media still has influence on us as human beings. The premise, however, has just changed, as the multiple aspects of human agency guides the flow of digestion and outcome of these media messages and as such brings a whole different scale of possible analysis that incorporates elements from e.g. U&G Theory, Two-Step Flow and, in my opinion, the intermediating theory of the Social Cognitive Perspective. A fascinating research question one could pose by using these theories would be: when the media is targeting people, and the messages reach perceived “opinion leaders” and we ascribe proxy agency to these in order to reach a certain outcome, i.e. gratification, will these sought gratifications still be a product of our individual need, or will the proxy agency affect this to an extent that it becomes associated with his/her overall need instead of ours?

    References

    Albert Bandura (2001a): Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication, Media Psychology, 3:3, 265-299

    Albert Bandura (2001b): Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic Perspective. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2001. 52:1–26

    Reply
    • October 26, 2012 at 9:53 am
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      Excellent comment about proxies. That is a great idea for further research, maybe for your paper. It might need some refinement, though. I am not clear, for example, why media distorts/may distort reality in this context…

      Reply
  • October 22, 2012 at 11:06 am
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    The Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) discussed by Bandura (2001a) is interesting because it tries to describe the complex causal relationships between different determinants. In regards to earlier approaches to mass communication this marks an interesting difference, as media is no longer seen as just able to reinforce pre-existing styles of behavior or create new behavior. Media can also create new behaviors as well as alter pre-existing ones. This integrates a basic understanding of the hyperemic needle theory as mass media is seen as capable of changing human behavior yet at the same time it also recognizes that mass media can be said to primarily reinforce pre-existing behavior. In my opinion this brings a more nuanced view of how media influences human behavior.

    In SCT personal, behavioral and environmental determinants are seen as interacting and thus creating the agency of humans by “influencing each other bidirectionally” (Bandura, 2001a: 266). This moves SCT away from the traditional cognitive focus on organisms by incorporating its relationship to environments. People are seen as both products and producers of their environment and people learn in part by observing others. Another part of the theory is the idea that people develop their expectations about outcomes of behaviors through a process of self-regulation and self-constraint – the process by which self-efficacy modifies peoples behavior. Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s personal capabilities and the belief in personal control over one’s life and as such perceived self-efficacy regulates cognitive, motivational, and emotional functioning in humans (Bandura, 2001b). The most central part of the SCT can therefore be seen as the idea of extending the conception of human agency to collective agency, observational learning and self-efficacy (Bandura, 2001a; 2001b).

    Even though the theory tries to incorporate, explain and predict many aspects of human behavior I also see this as a point of critique of the theory. On a practical level this poses some methodological challenges when taking a social scientific approach, as traditional systematic designs are not able to reflect the environment that influence people (Dhami, Hoffrage & Hertwig, 2004). The development of a representative design does allow for this but the richness of the theory cannot be completed incorporated in such a design. I therefore see the theory as an interesting framework that brings a rich theoretical description but its application is limited in a practical sense.

    Works Cited
    Bandura, A. (2001a). Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication. Media Psychology , 3 (3), 265-299.
    Bandura, A. (2001b). Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic Perspective. Annual Review Psychologi (52), 1-26.
    Dhami, M. K., Hoffrage, U., & Hertwig, R. (2004). The Role of Prepresentative Design in an Ecological Approach to Cognition. Psychological Bulletin , 130 (6), 959-988.

    Reply
    • October 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm
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      There is a logical inconsistency in what you are saying, re: mass media ability to create behaviors. Can or can’t media create new behaviors? Can you please clarify? Can you also clarify what you mean by “cognitive focus on organisms”… On the other hand, good point about the relationship between self-efficacy and self-regulation. Finally, what part of the theory is not amenable to quantitative research?

      Reply
      • October 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm
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        Allow me to reformulate myself. I believe that mass media can create behaviors, alter pre-existing behaviors, and reinforce pre-existing behaviors because humans learn from the observed. I think STC makes a very strong argument for that when it points to the limits of human development if we had to learn everything for ourselves. Whether mass media creates, alters or reinforce a behavior thus has to do with what is observed and learned.

        The use of organisms was just to reflect Brunswik’s biological metaphor where he sees organisms-environment relationships; this could easily be replaced by behavioral and personal determinants as used by Bandura.

        In regards to the amenable of the theory to quantitative research Brunswik “realized more than his contemporaries that the problems of perception, as of behavior, cannot be solved by setting up situations in the laboratory which are convenient for the experimenter but atypical for the individual “ (Dhamni et al, 2004: p. 959) as this does not represent the environment and the multiple stimuli that influences his/her behavior. If one was to take a representative design it places a strong emphasis on the notion of internal validity, that is, on the sound, defensible demonstration that a causal relationship exists between two or more variables. Internal validity is ensured sometimes at the expense of external validity, which refers to the generalizability of a causal relationship beyond the circumstances under which it was studied or observed. As such I do not see it as impossible but certainly some challenges as it has many possible variables that cannot be studied simultaneously thus limiting the generalizatiobility of the research.

        Reply
  • October 23, 2012 at 12:50 am
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    Social Cognitive Theory serves as a very interesting lens through which to look at social media usage. When combined with the “traditional” media theory ideas behind Uses and Gratifications Theory, Social Cognitive Theory opens up a new world of things to consider regarding social media usage. When we discussed Uses and Gratifications Theory in class, one of the primary topics of conversation that came up was that of the (relatively unaddressed) needs portion of Uses and Gratifications (in-class discussion, September 11). Reasonably so, because Uses and Gratifications Theory essentially posits that individuals use certain media in certain ways to gratify certain needs. Thus, the questions of what those needs are and where they come from (loosely speaking) certainly arise. It seems that Social Cognitive Theory can serve as a psychological lens through which to consider where such needs come from and why they might manifest in certain ways. This is a valuable addition to more traditional mass media theories because Social Cognitive Theory considers the influence of what I would call “human-based” constructs, rather than just the more mechanistic “parts” of traditional theories. The readings for this unit primarily seem to suggest that media usage is tied to Social Cognitive Theory in such ways as the relationships between self-efficacy and media usage, and also self-regulation and media usage control (Bandura, 2001b; LaRose & Eastin, 2004). However, I would posit that Social Cognitive Theory is connected to media usage, and specifically to the constructs of Uses and Gratifications Theory, on much deeper psychological levels. Given that Social Cognitive Theory delineates the influence of such constructs as social norms and self-efficacy on personal agency (Bandura, 2001a), it makes sense that in the context of media usage Social Cognitive Theory could explain the influence of such constructs as social norms and self-efficacy on specific media usage choices individuals make to satisfy their needs. Thus, moving forward with social media research, the Social Cognitive Theory framework could be used as a starting point for investigating the specific psychological motivation individuals have for using media to gratify certain needs (therefore effectively tying Social Cognitive Theory to Uses and Gratifications Theory) as a way to pinpoint specific needs individuals may be trying to meet. This would extend the Social Cognitive Theory framework beyond simply addressing the issues of self-efficacy and self-regulation (among other issues) into the areas of actually addressing the specific needs preceding Uses and Gratifications Theory – a timely topic in social media research.

    References:

    In-class Discussion on Uses and Gratifications Theory (September 11, 2012)

    Bandura, A. (2001a). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299.

    Bandura, A. (2001b). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 1-26.

    LaRose, R., Eastin, A. (2004). Social cognitive theory of Internet uses and gratifications: Toward a new model of media attendance.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 48(3), 358-377

    Reply
  • November 1, 2013 at 10:10 am
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    Social cognitive theory posits that individuals’ behaviors are the result of dynamic, multifaceted, and reciprocal interactions between personal, behavioral, and environmental determinants (Bandura, 2001). According to this theory, people learn both from their personal experiences and those they experience vicariously by observing others (Bandura, 2001). In terms of mass communication, SCT identifies two primary roles: (1) promoting changes by modeling and motivating behaviors, ideas, and attitudes and (2) connecting participants to social networks that provide incentives and guidance for change (Bandura, 2001). While social cognitive theory is valuable for examining mass communication in its own right, I was especially interested in its ability to complement, critique, and extend other media theories and constructs.

    SCT has the clearest connection with uses and gratifications, based on a shared understanding that people are active, not just reactive (Bandura, 2001; Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1973). SCT also attends to the psychological origins of needs and media behavior called for by previous theorists (Katz et al., 1973; LaRose & Eastin, 2004). In particular, LaRose and Eastin (2004) argue that SCT offers useful theoretical framework along with new mechanisms for uses and gratifications researchers to examine, specifically the concepts of self-efficacy and self-regulation that are central to SCT. Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in her capability to perform a set of actions or to achieve a desired outcome (Bandura, 1982, 2001). Self-regulation refers to the ways individuals actively monitor, evaluate, and correctively react to their own behaviors (Bandura, 2001; LaRose & Eastin, 2004). Both were argued to help explain Internet usage. Based on LaRose and Eastin’s (2004) findings, these concepts improved and extended the explanatory power of their model of media attendance, contributing to further understanding of the mechanisms of uses and gratifications.

    SCT also provides a critique and rethinking of two-step flow to a broader understanding of social diffusion as a “multipattern flow of influence” (Bandura, 2001, p. 283). Rather than a “filter-down” model where opinion leaders gather new ideas from the media and pass them on to followers, Bandura (2001) complicates matters by arguing that multiple determinants are acting simultaneously without a fixed path (p. 284). He argues, “How extensively different sources are used depends, in large part, on their accessibility and the likelihood that they will provide the kinds of information sought” (p. 284). This critique does not completely discount two-step flow entirely, as the two pathways of the mass media Bandura identifies do still speak to the role of interpersonal relationships in facilitating change. Bandura adds additional layers by speaking to the interplay between various sociostructural and psychological determinants in the processes of social diffusion and adoption, which he argues “should be treated as complementary factors in an integrated comprehensive theory of social diffusion” (p. 293).

    As seen in its interaction with just these two theories, SCT can be used to both compliment and critique existing theory and should be considered by scholars for its potential to enhance and extend their ongoing work. First, it can provide useful psychological constructs to help explain human behaviors. Second, it provides a means to move beyond a simple deterministic view of media effects to one that recognizes the agency of the individual as well as the interplay between multiple determinants. By doing so, it can, lastly, contribute to a more comprehensive approach to examining media effects, especially in the context of an evolving media environment as scholars grasp for a means to explain patterns of adoption and use of social media.

    References

    Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122-147. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.37.2.122

    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 37–41. doi:10.1207/S1532785XMEP0303

    Katz, E., Blumler, J., & Gurevitch, M. (1973). Uses and gratifications research. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 37(4), 509–523. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/2747854

    LaRose, R., & Eastin, M. (2004). A social cognitive theory of Internet uses and gratification: Toward a new model of media attendance. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 48(3), 37–41. doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem4803

    Reply
    • November 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm
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      Wow… Great summary… You really nailed it… Superb explantion of how SCT differs from two-step flow and UG…

      Reply
  • November 1, 2013 at 11:42 am
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    A look at Social Cognitive Theory shows how increasingly complex conceptualizations of human nature have expanded understandings of the factors that play into media effects. Unlike the Hypodermic Needle Model, SCT holds that humans are agentic, rather than reactive beings. While Uses and Gratifications holds to this idea as well, its explanation of this agentic nature is limited, elucidated only in the context of media usage. SCT gives a more composite view of human nature and the psychosocial aspects that inform it. SCT explains that people are both producers and products of the social systems in which they are embedded. “In this transactional view of self and society, personal factors in the form of cognitive, affective, and biological events, behavioral patterns, and environmental events all operate as interacting determinants that influence each other bidirectionally” (Bandura, 2001, p. 266). This bidirectional and multifaceted view of influencing factors is unique. SCT allows for detailed explanations of how people interact with and are influenced by messages and mediums; the number of factors the theory includes does not detract from its usefulness.

    Social Cognitive Theory has been used to expand research conducted through simpler models, like Uses and Gratifications theory. While U&G also assumes people are active consumers, the number of constructs it provides to explain how that agency plays into media usage and subsequent effects is limited. SCT’s assumption of humans as agentic beings is more thoroughly explained. As a result, SCT is not only a helpful framework in its own right, but its concepts can strengthen other theories like U&G. For example, adding SCT’s concept of self-efficacy to U&G research gave significant insight into Internet usage that U&G could not explain with its own vague or limited conceptualizations of agency (LaRose & Eastin, 2004).

    One important argument provided by Bandura’s (2001) explanation of SCT is that new ideas and values can be created through social modeling and there is no one pattern of social influence. People’s individual experiences are limited. Thus, humans accrue conceptions of reality based on vicarious experiences, without personal experience to correct and guide many of these conceptualizations. People will act on their perceptions of reality, when they lack experience for a certain reality or situation. This is important to understand for the current media context, because the Internet and new media have made information readily available on topics and issues for which people have no prior experience and of which they may never have personal experience. Social networks can also expand the number and types of people with which the user interacts, providing a wider range of modeled behavior. Social media also provide new contexts in which behavioral patterns are enacted or possibly created. SCT’s comprehensive model could guide research on how ideas, values and behaviors are adopted across new media, especially social media which provide new sites for social connections and contexts for social interactions. SCT could also guide research on how media use affects media influence. For example, Bandura (2001) claims that “the more people’s images of reality depend upon the media’s symbolic environment, the greater is its social impact” (p. 271). SCT could help researchers explore questions about how message content, extent of media use, personal experience and social factors interact to inform media effects.

    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299.

    LaRose, R., & Eastin, M. S. (2004). A Social Cognitive Theory of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Model of Media Attendance. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 48(3), 358-377.

    Reply
    • November 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm
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      Excellent emphasis on the “learning” aspects of attitude diffusion and value acquisition…

      Reply
  • October 26, 2014 at 7:36 pm
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    According to Social Cognitive Theory, behaviors are learned through observation and reinforcement from society.(Bandura, 2001) Albert Bandura proposed that communication systems operate in two pathways in order to change behavior. In the direct pathway, change is promoted through information and guidance. On the other hand, in the socially mediated pathway, people are linked to social networks via the media and these communities provide natural incentives for certain behaviors.(2001) In other words, media effects combine with an individual’s observation of others and positive or negative reinforcement from their social group to encourage change.

    Self efficacy also either encourages or discourages change because individuals have little incentive to act unless they feel that their actions will be able to produce a desired outcome or prevent an undesirable one. According to Bandura, humans are not just undergoers of experiences, but agents as well.(2001) “…human functioning is analyzed as socially interdependent, richly contextualized, and conditionally orchestrated within the dynamics of various societal subsystems and their complex interplay.”(Bandura, 2001, p.5) Our ability to control our quality of life is what makes us human; we make observations of the people around us and their reactions to others and use that to determine whether or not to adopt certain behaviors.

    The longer one waits to adopt a specific behavior, the more strongly we are affected by social influences.(Lu et al, 2005) Early adopters of innovation are the most active seekers of new information and therefore play the role of opinion leaders for the rest of the population.(Katz, 1957) Opinion leaders possess high levels of self efficacy, which counter the uncertainty created by new innovations and their unknown consequences.(Lu et al, 2005) It stands to reason that, as the number of opinion leaders that are adopting a certain innovation increases within your social network, so will your likelihood of adopting that same technology. Perceived usefulness stems from social networks so that usefulness increases in response to social information.(Lu et al, 2005) That is to say, the more individuals that you observe successfully adopting an innovation and the more positive society’s reaction is to that adoption, the more useful you will find the innovation.

    Smart phones are a prime example of social networks determining the perceived usefulness of an innovation.(Chiu et al, 2006) Just ten years ago, the majority of mobile users were unconvinced of the need for data packages for their phones (Lu et al, 2005) but today you are considered ‘behind the times’ if you do not possess an iPhone or Android. It isn’t logical to assume that so many people individually discovered a need for data services on mobile devices in the course of a single decade. More likely, individuals observed an increasing number of opinion leaders adopting the new technology, heard all the positive feedback, and determined that it must be more useful than they suspected.

    Today, the social status that accompanies adopting the latest innovations is perceived as useful in and of itself. Apple did not sell 10 million iPhone 6’s (Chen, Isaac, 2014) in the first weekend because they are that much more useful than an iPhone 5, but because society wants the status that comes with owning the newest technology.(Lu et al, 2005)

    Bandura, A. (2001, August). Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299
    Bandura, A. (2001). Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic Perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 1-26.
    Chen, B. X., & Isaac, M. (n.d.). First-Weekend Sales of Apple’s iPhone 6 Models Top 10 Million. In The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2014
    Chiu, C., Hsu, M., & Wang, E. T. (2006, December). Understanding Knowledge Sharing in Virtual Communities: An Integration of Social Capital and Social Cognitive Theories. Decision Support Systems, 42(3), 1872-1888.
    Katz, E. (1957). The Two Step Flow of Communication: An Up-To-Date Report on an Hypothesis. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 21(1), 61-78.
    Lu, J., Yao, J. E., & Yu, C. (2005, September). Personal Innovativeness, Social Influences, and Adoption of Wireless Internet Services via Mobile Technology. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 14(3), 245-268.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2014 at 11:03 am
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      Jessica makes a great case for the relationship between social cognitive theory and the diffusion of innovations. She claims, “That is to say, the more individuals that you observe successfully adopting an innovation and the more positive society’s reaction is to that adoption, the more useful you will find the innovation.” However, we would argue there is a more complex relationship.

      SCT empowers humanity by recognizing that we have a self-reflective capability. Bandura (2001) claimed, “The metacognitive capability to reflect upon oneself and the adequacy of one’s thoughts and actions is another distinctly core human feature of agency” (p. 10). In essence, the ability to reflect on our own behaviors makes us human. This self-reflectivity occurs through a myriad of methods: enactive, vicarious, social, and logical.

      Jessica recognizes in her comment only the social verification that occurs through the media. However, there can be both direct and indirect effects within the media on human behavior, as mediated by self-reflectivity. For example, vicarious verification can occur when we see someone on the media using a new technology, and then we desire that technology. The media provides us with stimuli that can affect our behaviors and the diffusion of innovations through multiple means.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 11:05 am
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      Jessica, I agree with your comment about the adoption of data packages on phones was partly a result of the influence of early adopters. Another example would be the spread of Facebook use. Most of my closest friends in college (early adopters) were active users of Facebook, using it to communicate and keep in touch with current and previous friends. Their positive feedback about the utility of Facebook helped convince me to join as well. I also believe modeling (their use of Facebook) and the positive consequence (closer ties through mutual use of the same media) also affected my adoption of the social media. I suspect that this may also be the case with data packages. It is possible that watching others use data and the benefits they receive, including access to Internet anywhere, may have helped convince late adopters to purchase the data package.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 12:12 am
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    In his 2001 article, Bandura argues how the different modes of human influence are too diverse in nature to have a fixed path of influence or strengths. By doing so, he writes off the claims of the two-step flow hypothesis, and opens up for a much more fluctuant perspective on how individuals gather information. However, I would argue that social cognitive theory does not rule out the possibility of a two-step flow of information.

    Bandura notes how the relative contribution of any factor in a patter of influence can change depending on the nature and strength of coexisting determinants (Bandura, 2001). He outlines how an individuals functioning is a product of interaction between cognitive, behavioral and contextual factors, and that learning is gained through observation of both models in the near proximity of the individual and the mass media. Furthermore, Bandura emphasizes the importance of an individual’s ability to influence own behavior. Every person have agency to make deliberate choices, and can thus prioritize between, and actively seek out, different sources of information. How these different sources are used “depends, in large part, on their accessibility and the likelihood that they will provide the kinds of information sought” (Bandura, 2001, p.284).

    Therefore, I would argue that individuals are free to make use of interpersonal connections to gather information. Individuals might actively seek out both peers and superiors, simply because they consider them the best source of information at hand. Thus, it might be possible to incorporate the basic idea of the two-step flow within social cognitive theory.

    However, it would also be valuable to consider the findings of Case et al (2004) in this regard. In their study of the changing array of sources for genetics information seeking, they found that respondents were most likely to turn to the Internet for information. What this implies is that the information that was once acquired through the two-step flow, is now easier available via the Internet. I.e. whereas interpersonal relationships used to be the primary source of information, they have been reduced to but one of many available sources. This does support the initial argument of Bandura, which makes a case for the need of distinction between the two-step flow hypothesis and social cognitive theory. Following this line of thought, social cognitive theory could be considered “information from many sources” theory while two-step flow is “one dominant source of information” theory.

    References:

    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 37–41.

    Case, D., Johnson, D., Andrews, J., Allard, S., Kelly, K. (2004). From two-step flow to the internet: The changing array of sources for genetics information seeking. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55(8), 660-669.

    Katz, E. (1957). The Two-Step Flow of Communication. An Up-to-Date Report on a Hypothesis, The Public Opinion Quarterly, 21(1), 61-78.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 8:02 am
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      In what way and how does Bandura discount (write off) the claims of two step flow? You seem to disagree, however, in that you reintroduce two step flow toward the end of your comment. So, in summary, where do you stand in terms of the relationship between two step flow and social/cognitive learning theory?

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      • October 28, 2014 at 10:47 am
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        Bandura claims that the diffusion of information is too complex to follow a simple trickle down pattern. “The view that the path of media influence is exclusively a filter-down process is disputed by a wealth of knowledge regarding modeling influence.”(Bandura, 2001, p. 284.) Media isn’t the only way for us to gather information and there are multiple influences on how we form opinions. Traditional media are still able to set agendas but, due to the increasing popularity of social media, it they are no longer the only source.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 11:17 am
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      We feel that Bandura’s paradigm didn’t write off the role of two-step flow theory. In the Social Cognitive Theory, it focuses on both the positive and negative influence of the the models observed personally and also the environment in which one is exposed to. The two-step flow theory can be integrated into the environmental determinants where the leaders in one’s social network can affect one’s opinions and behaviors. However, the two-step flow emphasizes more on a singular source of influence while Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory talks about multipattern flow of influence.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 9:02 am
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    I would like to try to understand the similarities and differences between Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and Ball-Rokeach’s Communication Infrastructure Theory.
    Both SCT and CIT view effects in terms of a multifaceted mechanism that is almost circular in effects. In the case of SCT, it is triadic and reciprocal. Personal factors, environmental factors, and behavioral factors all influence one another to result in psychosocial functioning (Bandura 2001a). CIT focuses on the unified function of communication agents, such as media, community, and personal that essentially forms a storytelling system (Ball-Rokeach & Jung 2009). Both are concerned with agency within media systems, and both acknowledge a somewhat ecological quality to mass media.
    A key distinction between the two is that CIT is primarily concerned with the functioning of a system, whereas SCT focuses on behaviors of individuals and the influences thereof. SLT accounts for the system functions, where CIT describes those functions. They both, for example, ascribe importance to things such as interpersonal factors. CIT describes interpersonal networks as host for goals such as understanding, orientation, and play. SCT, in contrast, gives a more comprehensive understanding to the impact of interpersonal factors by demonstrating their implementation in agentic processes such as attention, cognition, behavioral production, and motivation.
    I think some might find this distinction obvious or redundant but the main reason I chose to focus on it is because Social Cognitive Theory preceded Communication Infrastructure Theory by decades, yet SCT is not mentioned in the 2009 article. Why is this? Especially considering how influential SCT has been, it may have had the potential to increase CIT’s usefulness greatly. At the very least implementation/comparison of the two could potentially strengthen the claims put forth by CIT, by justifying it’s use and applicability in the presence of SCT.

    Sandra Ball-Rokeach & Joo Young Jung (2009). The Evolution of Media System Dependency Theory, The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects. Sage.

    Bandura (2001). Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication. Media Psychology, 3(1), pp. 265-299.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 8:33 am
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      Excellent point. The answer might be that MSD is much deeper rooted in Uses and Gratifications. Also, as you said yourself, and so very well “SLT accounts for the system functions, where CIT describes those functions.” The two theories are complementary, yet MSD does not consider itself a scion of SCT. You point, however, is still valid…

      Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 9:41 am
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    I was about 7 years old when I first became afraid of cockroaches. I was at my cousins’ house, doing everyday things that children do like watching television and playing video games. Suddenly a cockroach appeared in the living room forcing my same gender, older cousins into a screaming, jumping frenzy. Prior to this event, I had no reason to be afraid of something so small when I am so much bigger. I had never witnessed anyone else reacting with such fear to the sight of a roach (at least not that I could remember) so I had never perceived them as a threat. However, that all changed when the family members closest to my age showed me how I should react to the sight of small insects. Although, back then I had no idea what caused my sudden change in reactive behavior, I now know it was due to modeling.
    Modeling is the process of learning new ideas, behaviors, or attitudes by observing others perform the behavior and witnessing the consequences of their actions. This form of learning may be particularly influential in shaping children’s behavior. The Bobo Doll Experiments (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961) (Bandura, 1965) provided evidence that children who witnessed adults playing aggressively with a doll were more likely to imitate those aggressive behaviors when they played. This was particularly true when the aggressive, older individual was the same gender as the child.
    This week’s readings also mention the relationship between the two-step flow of communication and modeling in changing behavior (Bandura, 2001). The two-step flow of communication involves the diffusion of ideas from mass media to opinion leaders, who then distribute that information to others around them (Katz, 1957). Thus, opinion leaders could learn behaviors, ideas, etc., that mass media modeled. These opinion leaders in turn, will model the behaviors acquired from mass media for other people around them, leading these individuals to begin imitating the opinion leader’s behaviors.
    Several research has examined the adoption of negative behaviors acquired from modeling through mass media. Such as the facilitation of aggressive behaviors in children who viewed aggressive films (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963). The study found that children who viewed aggressive films were much more likely to display aggressive behaviors. Subsequently, these children may later model aggressive behaviors around their peers engaging them to adopt these aggressive tendencies. On the flip side, this naturally occurring ability to learn by modeling can be harnessed to bring positive changes in society. For example, when I was around 11 years old, I was playing with my younger, same gender cousin when we encountered a dragonfly. My younger cousin was extremely scared of the dragonfly; little did she know that I was equally afraid. To help her get over her fear, I pretended to not be afraid of dragonflies, regaling her with stories (lies) about my adventures catching and playing with dragonflies. Convinced by my “adventures”, she slowly overcame her fears and eventually was even able to touch dragonflies with her bare hands without flinching. Much the same way, mass media can be used to model socially beneficial behaviors which will be picked up by opinion leaders, who will then spread it to their own followers via modeling. The combination of the two-step flow method and modeling could be used to increase constructive behaviors such as volunteerism, exercise, healthy eating, voting behaviors, etc., among the general population if implemented properly.

    References
    Bandura, A. (1965). Influence of models’ reinforcement contingencies on the acquisition of imitative responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1(6), 589-595.
    Bandura, A. (2001). Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299.
    Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. The Journal of Abnormal and Soical Psychology, 66(1) 3-11.
    Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through the imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63(3), 575-582.
    Katz, E. (1957). The Two-Step Flow of Communication: An Up-To-Date Report on an Hypothesis. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 21(1) 61-78.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2014 at 8:24 am
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      Superb contextualization and explanation via stories. Very relevant emphasis on modeling, which is, alongside self-efficacy, at the heart of Bandura’s theory.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 11:03 am
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      I really enjoyed this story and the relationship that was drawn between Social Learning Theory and modeling. Social learning theory and the criminal justice field have been intertwined for decades. The ability of persons, old and young, to learn behaviors based on peers actions is a central theme in the rehabilitation model of convicted offenders. Many of the offenders in the system came from social networks that were filled with violence and those groups also in some cases glamorized violence in social media, music, and movies. I agree completely that mass media can use the massive power and audience reach-ability to model positive behaviors to the consumers. The awe inspiring power of media to control what is spread to the masses is extremely important, and opinion leaders do acquire these stories and spread them to end users. This is where the behavior modeling the author spoke of will be tested.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 11:07 am
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      If viewing violent content makes children more violent, would that not imply a direct media effect on behavior?

      We are not denying the existence of a two-step flow or the perspective of modeling. But from the bobo doll experiment, with children becoming more violent directly after viewing violence being inflicted onto a doll suggests a direct effect as is put forward in the hypodermic needle theory.

      Therefore we are suggesting the possibility that there is more at work than first first argued in this comment.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 10:44 am
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    LaRose and Eastin (2004)’s paper suggests two perspectives that can explain Internet usage, (a) social leaning perspective and (b) personal habitual perspective. The social learning perspective explains that expected outcomes (U&G theory) of Internet exposure cause future exposure that shapes media use behavior. Vicarious learning based on observations of the experiences of others and self-efficacy shapes expected outcomes of U&G theory. In LaRose and Eastin’s path analysis model, self-efficacy mediates the effect of vicarious learning on Internet use behavior. This is because people, as active organisms, believe that they are able to control their Internet use (Bandura, 2001). Interestingly, the influence of self-efficacy becomes greater when they expect that their Internet use will lead to certain social outcomes. This result suggests that self-efficacy and expected outcomes of U&G theory can well explain the influence of social cognition on Internet use. From the personal habitual perspective, the study attempts to explain another effect of habit strength, which is not related with vicarious social leaning. Habit strength is highly associated with deficient self-regulation, which may lead to intense Internet use behavior, so called Internet addicted behavior. Interesting point that I would like to mention is that expected outcomes of U&G theory still explain the effect of habit strength on Internet use behavior, although habit strength dose not relate to vicarious social learning and self-efficacy, as shown in Figure 1 (p. 366). I believe that the expected outcomes of Internet use are highly related to social cognitions because people not only learn from others and evaluate themselves, but also motivate themselves to act in a way to decrease discrepancy between socially desired outcomes and their goals. Therefore, social cognitions and related expected outcomes can guide individual behavior; in this case, Internet addicted behavior in particular or Internet use in general.

    Lu et al. (2005)’s study adopted the main idea that the influence of social system (e.g., social norm) and person’s cognition (e.g., perceived belief) partially controls a person’s innovative behavior. Their results showed that influence of social norm on the intention to adopt innovative technology, WIMT, could be explained through perceived beliefs (e.g., ease of use and usefulness). Furthermore, their findings indicated that social influences might help shape an individual’s confidence in his or her ability to use a system well. Moreover, the study was based on the two main theories, TAM (Technology Acceptance Model) and SCT, where social norm plays an important role to explain innovative behavior. I found that Bandura (2001)’s idea that social leaning of SCT is not merely a process of behavioral mimicry but also it influences social rules for innovative behaviors could be used to prove the result of Lu et al.’s study.

    However, SCT is limited in explaining what factors within the social and individual determinants influence on individual behavior. Thus, LoRose and Eastin (2004) adopted the U&G theory to explore the effect of social cognition on the Internet use, and Chiu at al. (2006) applied three dimensions of Social Capital Theory (e.g., structural, relational, and cognitive dimensions) to explore the effect of social network on knowledge sharing in virtual communities. SCT is limited because social cognition is a broad concept that includes social leaning process in a social context, where individual confidences in ability (e.g., self-regulatory and self-reflective ability) should be considered as well (Bandura, 2001). Despite of the limitation, SCT helps us understand the effect of the social factors on individual behavior of media use, allowing media researchers to draw several models explaining the Internet use (LaRose & Eastin, 2004), knowledge sharing (Chiu at al., 2006), and new technology acceptance behavior (Lu at al., 2005) with the help of social cognitions.

    References:
    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media Psychology, 3(3), 265-299.

    Chiu, C. M., Hsu, M. H., & Wang, E. T. (2006). Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: an integration of social capital and social cognitive theories. Decision support systems, 42(3), 1872-1888.

    LaRose, R., & Eastin, M. S. (2004). A Social Cognitive Theory of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Model of Media Attendance. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 48(3), 358-377.

    Lu, J., Yao, J. E., & Yu, C. S. (2005). Personal innovativeness, social influences and adoption of wireless Internet services via mobile technology. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 14(3), 245-268.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 11:27 am
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    Bandura (2001) indicated that though personal experience is the fastest way to learn, however through modeling, humans can learn complex behaviors they have never experienced as if they are experiencing them. Bandura (2001) believed there are associations among human behaviors, environmental factors, and personal factors. This is called triadic reciprocal determinism, which means that environmental events, personal factors, and behavioral factors interact with each other continuously to influence people’s attitude. It is not a one-way, cause-and-effect relationship, but a reciprocal process. Individuals can interact with environments mainly because of their symbolizing capability, self-regulatory capability, self-reflective capability, and vicarious capability. In the course of their daily lives, people have direct contact with only a small sector of the physical and social environment. Consequently, their conceptions of social reality are greatly influenced by vicarious experience, and their images of reality increasingly depend on the media’s symbolic environment (Bandura, 2001). If the media frequently demonstrate how people get away with violent behavior, and frequently portray violent behavior, media content would disinhibit certain behaviors (Bandura, 2001, p. 280).
    Social cognitive theory is the most appropriate theory to explain how human behaviors and attitude are influenced by the mass media’s demonstration effect. With the development of communication technology, media are no longer one-way channels, but channels that give users the ability to interact with the content, which expands and strengthens the media’s influence. Audiences can receive more personalized information and, therefore, the effects of this information can be stronger than ever. Social cognitive theory indicates that cognition does not necessarily lead to behaviors, but if exposed to enough information, people’s attitudes may change. In the digital age, I believe it is worthwhile to analyze the characteristics of the Internet and social media. Internet and social media could affect people more significantly than traditional media because of its interactive and multimedia nature. Virtual interactivity intensifies peoples’ involvement in online activity and increases the frequency of their use of the Internet. Future media effect studies should investigate the internet effects by examining the influence of social media’s virtual interactive activities on peoples’ perception and attitude change, especially the psychological mechanism of aberrant behavior.
    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass media. Media psychology, 3, 265-299.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    Bandura’s (2001) agentic social cognitive theory seeks to explain how humans can be both “producers as well as products of social systems” (p. 266). As with uses and gratifications theory (Swanson, 1977), people are seen as being either proactive or active in their behaviors and interactions with social systems and media usages instead of merely reacting to diffused information (Bandura, 2001).

    Human behavior is influenced by direct and observational experiences (Bandura, 2001); but in our highly connected and technological world, I think that behavior is more influenced by observational experiences, especially those a person has online and in social media. As we read last week in Google piece (Carr, 2008), prior online (observational) reading experience can and does influence future reading habits.

    Lu, Yao, and Yu (2005) referred to social influences in their study as “perceived pressures from social networks to make or not to make a certain behavioral decision” (p. 249). This relates perfectly in my mind to peer pressure – pressure from friends or (others interpersonally) to do or not do some behavior. But nowadays, that pressure to do or not do something may not come from a close friend, it may (purposely or not) come from the social web (Lu et al., 2005) of influences a person is connected to, including friends, acquaintances, media outlets, and more.

    I’m particularly interested in the self-reflective part of social cognitive theory because of its implied connections to grounded theory and how we as researchers can learn about ourselves as we learn about that which we are studying (be it humans, social networks, or online activities), and how that self-reflection can shape our future interactions and questions we pose to those we research. I engaged in self-reflection during my experiences abroad this summer, and those activities have influenced my decision to include a portion of self-reflection and responsibility in my current and future projects, namely the one I’m working on now about perceptions of available meat in food pantries because my audience (or research subjects) have a different culture than the one I belong to.

    References
    Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. Media psychology, 3(3), 265-299.
    Carr, N. (2008, July 1). Is Google Making Us Stupid. The Atlantic.
    Lu, J., Yao, J. E., & Yu, C. S. (2005). Personal innovativeness, social influences and adoption of wireless Internet services via mobile technology. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 14(3), 245-268.
    Swanson, D. L. (1977). The uses and misuses of uses and gratifications. Human Communication Research, 3(3), 214-221.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2014 at 8:15 am
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      Superb connections across readings, while staying focused on the most important storyline of the comment, that is, the unique offering of Social Learning Theory.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2014 at 11:55 pm
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    Social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1982), one of the most influential psychological theories of the last century, has deep implications for theorizing about human ontology and social media. As many colleagues in earlier blogs have noted, agency constitutes a key process of the theory, connecting many concepts of the theory to media effects. Ironically agency empowers the media user while also recognizing our agentic limitations.
    Social cognitive theory gives greater voluntaristic power to humanity. Although many earlier psychological theories arose from deterministic thinking, social cognitive theory recognizes the importance of human agency in behavior. Central to agency is consciousness, which Bandura (2001b) claims is “achieved through intentional mobilization and productive use of semantic and pragmatic representations of activities, goals, and other future events” (p. 2). Basically, humans have the ability to think and act for themselves, causing external actions by intentionality. Whereas radical determinists think intentionality a farce, social cognitive theory claims that humans have the ability to think consciously and act intentionally. Furthermore, Bandura (2001b) recognized three modes of agency: personal, proxy, and collective. Although most research has examined personal agency, people have the ability to cause actions through a multitude of modes.
    Within social media, social cognitive theory utilizes agency to explain the functioning of media effects (Bandura, 2001a). First, behavior changes evidence media effects. Although some older media theories like hypodermic needle would almost completely overlook agency and consciousness, social cognitive theory shows that an effect can happen, while still occurring mindfully. As with the famous bobo doll experiment, I can witness others hitting the doll. My hitting the doll would evidence the effect. Second, modeling serves as a central channel by which media effects can occur. With the doll, I would model the behavior of others through hitting it. Bandura (2001a), while admitting both direct and indirect media effects, shows how modeling can evidence and often foster media effects. Thus, social cognitive theory recognizes the occurrence of media effects, while also giving agency to users.
    Agency, however, has changed since the advent of Web 2.0. No longer is there a source and a receiver, but users can have agency over the source itself. Indeed, modeling evolves into a more complicated process as users not only model media but also can shape media. In summary, social cognitive theory ties together media effects with human ontology through its claims about agency. While we are intentional beings, we can now use this intentionality to shape the media that so often shapes us.
    References
    Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122-147. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.37.2.122
    Bandura, A. (2001a): Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication, Media Psychology, 3:3, 265-299
    Bandura, A. (2001b): Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic Perspective. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2001. 52:1–26

    Reply
    • October 28, 2014 at 8:13 am
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      This is precisely the kind of comment we need in the class, which problematizes the broad topics introduced by the readings and discusses the assumptions and implications of the theory.

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    • October 28, 2014 at 11:15 am
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      To elaborate on Ryan’s comment regarding Web 2.0’s complex matrix of users and producers, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of Social Learning Theory and Media System Dependency. Bandura’s social learning theory provides a helpful foundation for Media System Dependency by theorizing a complex interplay of psychosocial forces influencing individual agency and social influence. This interaction between personal and social forces reflects the user-producer web of the new social media landscape.

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