The modeling theory was created by Albert Bandura and is primarily useful in criminology when explaining the reasoning behind violent acts. According to Bandura, individuals learn aggressive behavior from other people. When enforced by the media and living environment, such behavior is modeled by the learner. Albert Bandura presents several components to the modeling theory.
Types of Models
According to Bandura, there are several types of models. Whereas the live model is an actual person, the symbolic model may be a person or action portrayed. A member of the track team can be a potential live model while graffiti on a wall may be a symbolic model. In both instances of modeling, whether by a live person or symbolic act, the individual or thing must portray behavior that is enticing to the observer.
Requirements for Modeling
Bandura notes that an individual will not imitate violent behavior unless certain criteria warrants modeling. In addition to being exposed to violence, an individual must pay attention to and remember what they saw. A television show displaying a woman murdering a man only has the potential to be modeled if it captivates the viewer to the extent of remembering what happened at a later date. In addition, the viewer would need a reason to imitate such behavior. A child attending school is not a reason to model murder, but a child being bullied at school is a reason to imitate the act.
Enforced by the Environment
In his theory, Bandura presents the idea of acts, whether good or bad, being enforced by the environment. Such enforcement of modeling can be done in one of several ways. An individual may be reinforced to model after conforming to behavior exhibited. A child shown through a popular television sitcom that wearing jeans to school is stylish may decide to change his attire. He would need to be complimented by popular children at his school in order to continue modeling the sitcom. Complimenting another person's behavior, good or bad, is also considered a modeling reinforcement. Praising someone for his or her actions essentially tells the person that society approves of what he or she is doing and this reinforces modeling.
The modeling theory presents the idea of behavior having reciprocal effects. Although the individual may be encouraged by the environment to model behavior, the effects of such modeling influences society. If children in the community are persuaded to become gang members because the surrounding environment warrants such action, the children, along with the neighborhood, will feel the effects of modeling. Several people are essentially affected when an individual chooses to model behavior.
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