Sunday, September 19, 2010

Social Learning

The social learning theory is a way media effects its viewers through user imitation in attitudes, behaviors, and general thinking. The original theory comes from the experiments done by Bandura, where he showed children videos of adults beating a Bobo doll with a number of alternate endings that either rewarded or punish such behavior. He then put the children in a similar situation and found that the behaviors displayed were similar to those of the adults. Many example contain negative sides to social learning, but occasionally there are positive effects. This can be seen in the amount of fatalities from car accidents in the US. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) shows in their statistical studies that in 2008 there were less fatalities from car accidents than in the past 14 years. Regardless of the fact that more cars and people fill the roads each year, the number remained below 35,000. The chart can be viewed here. While car safety improvements can definitely be attributed to the decrease in deaths, another cohort responsible for the decrease is a raise in awareness about the issue. Here are a couple of commercials that have put the theory of social learning into action by raising awareness and encouraging viewers to think before making a big mistake behind the wheel.

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