What is Social Learning?

Definition: Social learning is a theory that states that individuals learn from behaviors observed in the society around them. According to this theory, the learning process comes from interacting with peers.

What Does Social Learning Mean?

Human relationships are essential to build a person’s perspective about society and moral values. The theory of social learning evaluates the way these interactions create or modify the behavior of individuals from a collective standpoint. A child, for example, learn different reactions and attitudes by watching his parents and the people around him.

This means that he will adopt the behavior he sees in his references, which are the individuals that are more close to him during his early stages. After the person matures, certain attitudes and view points are more fixated in the individual’s mind but there is always the possibility of a paradigm shift that redefines the way he sees the world or reacts to certain things.

This can also be applied to work environments, where individuals learn from co-workers the culture of the business they work at. They also learn different behaviors that are part of the dynamic of the workplace and this leads to a collective attitude that tends to be similar even though each individual has a different personality.

Example

Paul was recently hired by a global consulting firm that provides tax and financial advisory services to large companies that are normally based in the U.S. He doesn’t know much about the consulting business but he is willing to learn.

His boss explained that most of the things he needs to learn about the way the company do business will be observed during work sessions and meetings with clients. Paul has the opportunity to work with many of his co-workers in these environments and as social learning theory states, he will create or modify some of his attitudes and reactions depending on the culture he sees during these interactions.