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Learning and Conditioning

Observational Learning

People and animals don’t learn only by conditioning; they also learn
by observing others. Observational learning is the process of
learning to respond in a particular way by watching others, who are called
models. Observational learning is also called “vicarious conditioning” because
it involves learning by watching others acquire responses through classical or
operant conditioning.

Example: Brian might learn not to stand too close to a soccer goal
because he saw another spectator move away after getting whacked on
the head by a wayward soccer ball. The other spectator stopped
standing close to the soccer goal because of operant
conditioning—getting clobbered by the ball acted as positive
punishment for standing too close. Brian was indirectly, or
vicariously, conditioned to move away.

Bandura and the Bobo Dolls

The person best known for research on observational
learning is psychologist Albert Bandura, who did some landmark
experiments showing that children who watched adults behaving
aggressively were more likely to behave aggressively themselves. His
most famous experiment was the Bobo doll study. Bandura let a group
of kindergarteners watch a film of an adult violently attacking an
inflatable plastic toy shaped like Bobo the Clown by hitting it,
sitting on it, hammering it, and so forth. He then let the children
into a room with Bobo dolls. The children precisely imitated the
adult’s behavior, gleefully attacking Bobo. Their behavior was a
type of observational learning.


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Look up vicarious in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Vicarious may refer to:

  • Vicariousness , experiencing through another person
  • Vicarious learning , observational learning


  • 1 In Law
  • 2 Religion
  • 3 Science and Technology
  • 4 Entertainment
  • 5 See also

In Law[ edit ]

  • Vicarious liability , a term in common law
  • Vicarious liability (criminal) , a term in criminal law

Religion[ edit ]

  • Vicarious Atonement , Christian doctrine.
  • Vicarious baptism , baptism for the dead

Science and Technology[ edit ]

  • Vicarious (company) , an artificial intelligence company
  • Vicarious Visions , a video game developer
  • Vicarious problem-solving , a rational approach to economic theory
  • Vicarious traumatization , transformation in the self of a trauma worker or helper that results from empathic engagement with traumatized clients and their reports of traumatic experiences.

Entertainment[ edit ]

  • “Vicarious,” a song by Cadence Weapon from the album Breaking Kayfabe
  • Vicarious (song) , a single by the progressive metal band Tool

See also[ edit ]

  • Proxy (disambiguation)
  • Surrogate (disambiguation)
  • Passive (disambiguation)
  • Avatar (disambiguation)
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        • This page was last edited on 21 February 2017, at 00:58┬á(UTC).
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