What is social learning theory?
A way of explaining behaviour that includes both direct and indirect reinforcement, combining learning theory with the role of cognitive factors.
What is direct reinforcement?
Children are more likely to be reinforced for demonstrating behaviour that is gender appropriate.
E.g a boy being assertive and engaging in rough and tumble play is encouraged.
What is differential reinforcement?
Differential Reinforcement is the implementation of reinforcing only the appropriate response and applying extinction to all other responses.
How does direct and differential reinforcement lead to imitation?
Behaviours that are reinforced and then imitated. A child is more likely to imitate behaviour that has been reinforced. This reinforcement may be direct or indirect.
What is indirect reinforcement?
If the consequences of a person’s behaviour are favourable, that behaviour is more likely to be imitated.
How does indirect reinforcement lead to imitation?
If a little girl sees her mother receive a compliment when she wears makeup and a pretty dress, the girl may try replicate this when she is able.
Also, if the consequences of behaviour are seen to be unfavourable, they are less likely to be imitated.
E.g. if a little boy seems male classmate teased for displaying feminine behaviour, this is unlikely to be copied.
What is identification in SLT?
Identification occurs when a child attaches themselves to a person who possesses qualities that the child sees as rewarding, e.g. role models
What is modelling in SLT?
Modelling is the precise demonstration of imitated behaviour, and is the term used to explain learning from an observers perspective.
How does identification and modelling lead to SLT?
Children see their mothers as role models.
A mother may model stereotypically feminine behaviour when tidying the house or preparing dinner. When a little girl copies her mother setting the table, or attempts to ‘feed’ her doll, she is modelling the behaviour she has witnessed.
What are the four mediational processes in SLT?
Attention: a boy who wants to emulate his favourite footballer pays close attention to what he does
Retention: remembering the skills and trying to reproduce them when playing
Motivation: he wants to be like his hero (identification)
Motor reproduction: being physically capable of doing it
What is the evaluation for SLT as an explanation for gender development?
Explains changing gender roles in Western society
Not a developmental theory
Comparison with biological approach
Evaluation for SLT as an explanation for gender development: Supporting evidence
Smith and Lloyd studied 4-6 m old babies who were randomly dressed half the time in boys clothes and half in girls and asked adults to interact with the infants.
The adults played with the infants according to what they believed was the gender of the child, babies assumed to be ‘boys’ were given a hammer shaped rattle and encouraged to be adventurous and active. When the same babies were dressed as girls they were given a doll and told they were pretty and were reinforced for being passive, and they acted accordingly.
This suggest that gender-appropriate behaviour is stamped in at an early age through differential reinforcement and supports learning theory.
Evaluation for SLT as an explanation for gender development: Explains changing gender roles in Western society
There exits less of a clear-cut distinction between what people regard as stereotypically masculine and feminine in todays society. This can be explained by a shift in social expectations and cultural norms over the years that has meant new forms of acceptable gender behaviour has been reinforced. There has been no corresponding change in people’s basic biology within the period therefore this shift is better explain by SLT than the biological approach.
Evaluation for SLT as an explanation for gender development: Not a developmental theory
Motor reproduction suggests that children may struggle to perform behaviours if they are not capable, but the general implication is that modelling can occur at any age. Andrew Dublin suggests that although they may take note, selection and imitation does not come until later. This is consistent with Kohlberg’s theory that children do not become active in their gender development until they reach gender constancy.
The influence of age is not a factor considered by SLT and this may be a limitation.
Evaluation for SLT as an explanation for gender development: Comparison with biological approach
SLT places very little emphasis on the role of genes and chromosomes and only considers the role of the environment in gender development.
David Reimer shows it was not possible to raise a biological male and override chromosomal influence.
Modern researchers are more likely to accept the biosocial theory: there are innate biological differences that are reinforced by social interaction and cultural expectations.