3.4 Evaluating social learning theory
Bandura's work shows that learning can occur without the sorts of reinforcement that behaviourists see as essential, and that children are active in their learning. The sort of learning that Bandura highlighted goes further than simple mimicry. It implies that children extract general principles from what they observe. However, it does not tell us about the nature of the children's thinking or give us an insight into the processes of cognitive change occurring within the child. Moreover, it still places the emphasis on factors that are external to the child as the key influences on their developing behaviour; in this case the behaviour and experiences of people around them. To understand cognitive development a different theoretical perspective is needed, namely constructivism.