What is observational learning?

Some people argue that “hands on learning” is the best way to learn, but this may not be always true (Jindrich par. 9). During a hands on experience someone could possibly get hurt or experience something that is not in their best interest. They might break a leg by not knowing from observation that the road is not a safe place to play in. Not all experiences are good and there are other ways to learn than just from experiences. Observational learning provides social justice by giving someone another option to learning. One can benefit from observational learning by avoiding getting physically or mentally hurt and by learning from watching other models.

Below is one definition of observational learning.
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Another example how children can gain information through observational learning is watching television. American children between three and fourteen years of age watch more than three hours of television per day. Television is an important socializing agent in today’s society, and many programs are aimed at educating children. The most known and successful program that is aimed towards preschool children is Sesame Street (Pellegrini 110-11).


Observational Learning: Ways to Benefit From Observation

This is one example of observational learning. Now imagine you have accepted a job in sales.
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Observational learning (social learning) is learning by the experience of others. People naturally tend to imitate, or model the behavior of significant others (Nairne 250). An observer's behavior can be affected by the positive or negative consequences--called vicarious reinforcement or vicarious punishment-- of a model's behavior. The observer will react to the way the model is treated and mimic the model's behavior (Funderstanding par. 1). When the model's behavior is rewarded during vicarious reinforcement the observer is more likely to repeat the rewarded behavior. When the model is punished during vicarious punishment the observer is less likely to repeat the same behavior (Funderstanding par. 4).