The Importance of Role Models

Social learning and modeling helps us understand that our children are constantly observing and imitating the values, beliefs, and behaviors they witness around them. Modeling occurs whether our actions are positive or negative, intentional or unintentional, conscious or unconscious. In addition to the behavior of parents, it’s important to consider the other people who can serve as role models for our children. It’s important to realize that the possibilities are endless. Role models can be extended family members, siblings, teachers, coaches, peers, neighbors, television and movie characters, celebrities, professional athletes, and characters from a book (fiction and non-fiction). Because role models can have a significant impact in the lives of children, researchers have tried [...]

Social Learning and Modeling

Scientists agree that people have to learn to be culturally incompetent; it is not an inherited trait. No one is born racist, homophobic, or sexist. So how do children become biased? In order to answer this question, let's take a quick look at social learning theory. Larry Martin, a noted psychologist, defines social learning as “a form of learning that occurs in the context of a social environment, such as home, peer groups, school, and recreational settings”.[i] Through this process, social learning shapes a person’s view of the world, including their values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Albert Bandura, a famous social learning theorist, performed numerous studies over the span of his career, including the [...]