Social Cognitive Theory

Social cognitive theory looks at the way’s individuals acquire and maintain behavior, while also considering the social environment where individuals perform the behavior. The theory considers a person’s past experiences, this factors into weather behavioral actions will occur. The goal of social cognitive theory is to explain how people regulate behavior through control and reinforcement to achieve goal-directed behavior to be maintained over time. Social cognitive theory includes 6 concepts.

  1. Reciprocal Determinism: This is the central concept of social cognitive theory, it refers to the interaction of a person, environment, and behavior.
  2. Behavioral Capability: This refers to a person’s ability to perform a behavior through essential knowledge and skills. In order to successfully perform a behavior, a person must know what to do and how to do it. People learn from consequences of their behavior, which also affects their environment.
  3. Observational Learning: This says that people can witness and observe a behavior performed by another person and then repeat that action. This is often shown through “modeling” of behaviors. If a successful completion of the behavior is demonstrated, the individual can also complete the behavior successfully.
  4. Reinforcement: This refers to internal or external responses to a person’s behavior that affect weather or not the person will continue that behavior. Reinforcements can be initiated by the individual or in the environment, these reinforcements can be positive or negative. This concept of social cognitive theory most closely ties to the relationship between behavior and environment.
  5. Expectations: This refers to the anticipated consequences of a person’s behavior. Outcome expectations can be health-related or not. People anticipate the consequences of their actions before engaging in the behavior. Expectations are formed from previous experiences and focus on the value that is placed on the outcome and are subjective to the individual.
  6. Self-efficacy: This refers to the level of a person’s confidence in their ability to successfully perform a behavior. Self-efficacy is influenced by a person’s capabilities and other individual factors, as well as environmental factors.