Observational learning is one of the most essential types of learning for survival, for without it, everyone would have to learn through self trial and error. Observational learning is learning through watching what others do and what happens to them for doing it. By observing others do certain things you process the consequences of their actions without actually performing the task at hand. It can shape the type of person we turn out to be by developing emotions towards certain things.
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When learning through observation you can decide whether to imitate, stay away from, or even try a different approach to what you were observing. There are several examples as to how we have use observational learning throughout our lives.
When being trained for a job observational learning is an important way to learn how to properly go about that job. For example, you have just been hired as a cashier at a grocery store yet you have no experience at this job. It would be good for you to observe the behaviors and actions of an experienced cashier in order to fulfill the job description.
It would be beneficial for you to watch how the cashier interacts with the customers as well as the other workers. It is also important to observe how to work the register/machines so that there is no confusion on day one. Everything will not be picked up at once but when training for a job observational learning is recommended.
Observational learning often occurs with children when they are observing their parents. A child could be watching his dad fix something in the house and once he is done he goes off to his room and pretends to fix things in his room.
The same could apply for a daughter watching her mom cook in the kitchen. The daughter observes what her mother does so she then runs off to her room and pretends to cook with her toys. These are just two very small example of observational learning through children and parents. Children can also develop emotions,attitudes, violence, and other things from watching their parents.
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Emotions can be conveyed from the parent in many ways and they can be passed to the child through observational learning. For example, if a daughter sees her mother scream in fear of an insect, the daughter may also learnto fear that insect. Though the daughter did not fear the insect before, she may now because of the reaction she observed from her mother.
Whenever you hear the term “like mother, like daughter” or “like father, like son” it is because some children can be a spitting image of their parents. They become this way through observational learning; constantly watching and imitating behaviors and figuring out what’s ok and what’s not. Though a lot of learning through observation is advantageous, not all of it is. Violence and aggression can be learned as well from childhood observation and carried on into adulthood.
Studies have shown that witnessing inter-parental violence as a child is related to a number of negative outcomes, including violent and aggressive behavior as an adult (Fantuzzo, DePaola, Lambert, & Martino, 1991; Graham-Bermann & Levendosky, 1998; Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980). A recent study was done in which researchers studied the correlation between children who witness their parents engage in violent behavior (including use of weapons on intimate partner) and the chances they do the same in adulthood. So basically they were trying to see if witnessing these violent interactions played any role into how they are as adults now, so for example; are they now violent towards their partners, use weapons, etc.
The finding on this study was actually pretty hard to have an accurate conclusion. They assessed 362 male domestic violence offenders by court orders. They question childhood experiences, and did find that when witness childhood violence between parents you were likely to also do it in adulthood. But they also discover that of the 362 males interviewed, several could not recall ever witnessing these violent accounts as a child. Therefore raising questions as to what other factors may have caused the actions in these now adults. Though the tests were fairly successful there were still a few limitations.
The researcher did interview male with domestic violence charges but do not know if all were involved in parental weapon use. It is also unclear in how personal weapon use affects the parental weapon use of the individuals. In future research it will be important to get childhood records of the offenders that are being interviewed. This is so that the interviewers know a little bit more about their backgrounds.
Other factors to include in future research is the role of peer influences, social view, etc, and not just there parental influences. Though the tests results still proved reliable in showing that one incident of parental violence can cause that witnessing child to be more aggressive and violent as an adult.
Overall observational learning can be one of the most significant ways of learning, but when observing the wrong thing it is proven to be harmful.See More on Learning