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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.