Albert Bandura is a pioneer in psychology, whose seminal theoretical and research contributions have been influential across a wide range of domains, including social learning theory, moral development, and self-efficacy. In empirical studies of individual productivity and impact in psychology, his outstanding contributions place him in the company of Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, B. F. Skinner, and Carl Rogers.
Professor Bandura was born in Alberta, Canada in 1925. He received his B.A. from University of British Columbia in 1949, M.A. from University of Iowa in 1951, and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University of Iowa in 1952. He joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1953, where he has served as Chair of the Department of Psychology. In 1974 he was named David Starr Jordan Professor of Social Science in Psychology.
Bandura is a proponent of social cognitive theory. This theory accords a central role to cognitive, vicarious, self-regulatory and self-reflective processes in sociocognitive functioning. Bandura is well known for his work on aggressive behavior and on the role of modeling or imitation in learning. His research is especially concerned with the acquisition and modification of personality traits in children.
Bandura's work with Walters (1919-1967) emphasized the central role of observational learning in the acquisition of behavior, and is given a thorough treatment in Social Learning Theory (1977). The evolution of the theory presented in this work began with Bandura's analysis of imitative learning as described by earlier theorists, but went on to include social variables and cognitive influences such as thoughts and expectations. Bandura calls the interaction of behavioral, environmental (social) and cognitive influences on human learning reciprocal determinism.
In Bandura's view, the traditional behaviorist paradigm accounted for only the imitation of specific responses performed by a model. In contrast, other theorist posited a variety of mechanisms to explain the acquisition of prosocial and antisocial behaviors, among which were nurturance, power, envy and the like. Bandura proposes the single tripartite paradigm mentioned above for the acquisition of all behaviors, the components of which are
(1) modeled behaviors, (2) the consequences that accrue to the model in performing these behaviors, and (3) the learner's cognitive processes. Consequences in a modeler's experience that contribute to an observer learning a behavior include vicarious reinforcement, vicarious punishment, and the absence of anticipated punishment. His 1986 book,Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, provides the conceptual framework and analyzes the large body of knowledge bearing on this theory.
Bandura has authored over 175 articles and seven books on a wide range of issues in psychology. Bandura's contributions to psychology have been recognized in the many honors and awards he has received. He was elected to the presidency of the American Psychological Association and the Western Psychology Association. Some of the awards he has received include the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award of the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Scientist Award from APA Division 12 (Clinical Psychology), the William James Award of the American Psychological Society for outstanding achievements in psychological science, the Distinguished Contributions Award from the International Society for Research in Aggression, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been the recipient of several honorary degrees including an honorary doctor of humane letters from Indiana University in May of 1993.