Difference Between Social Cognitive Theory and Behaviorism

Social Cognitive Theory's core concepts include observational learning, triadic reciprocal determination, and self-efficiency. Behaviourism is a psychological concept as well as a learning theory.

Behaviourism is based on framed experiments like 'Little Albert,' Pavlov's dog experiments, and Skinner's pigeon and rat experiments. Behaviourism is a psychological concept as well as a learning theory.

Comparison Table Between Social Cognitive Theory and Behaviorism

Parameters of ComparisonSocial Cognitive TheoryBehaviourism
ProponentAlbert Bandura.B.F. Skinner, Ivan Pavlov and John Watson.
ApplicationChildren's socialization and media modelling.Treatment of illness related to mind, such as depression.
Framed experimentsBobo Doll experiment of Albert Bandura.'Little Albert', dog experiments by Pavlov and pigeon and rats experiment by Skinner.
NatureA learning theory.A psychological approach and a learning theory.
Core conceptsObservational learning, triadic reciprocal determination and self-efficiency.Classical conditioning, stimulus-response behaviour.
LearningLearning is done via interaction between environmental, behavioural and personal factors.Learning is done via environmental factors.

What is Social Cognitive Theory?

Albert Bandura proposed this theory in his book called, "Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory". This book was published in 1986.

Even though Bandura is a behaviourist, he takes a different approach to learn new habits than orthodox behaviourists. Observational learning, in his view, is how humans acquire new behaviours.

Furthermore, he used the term "self-efficiency." It solely refers to one's belief in one's own potential to manufacture and act appropriately in any given situation.

What is Behaviorism?

Behaviourism is a psychology approach and a learning view that claims that behaviour is learnt by conditioning. In this process, the environment continuously influences a habit, either weakening or strengthening it.

 Although behaviourism can be found in psychological writings dating back to the late 1800s. Many theorists have contributed to this body of knowledge.

In terms of psychology, behaviourism rejects concepts like mental processes and unconscious motivations that aren't visible instead of focusing on behaviour that can be monitored and controlled.

Main Differences Between Social Cognitive Theory and Behaviorism

  1. Observational learning, triadic reciprocal determination and self-efficiency are the core concepts provided by Social Cognitive Theory.
  2. In the case of Social Cognitive Theory, learning is done via interaction between environmental, behavioural and personal factors.


The field of psychology is very dynamic. It consists of various theories and postulates which are of extream importance to understand the basic man kind.

Both of these theories that we discussed above puts emphasis on behaviour which can be observed. They focus to understand the dynamism behind human being's behaviour.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1987-27834-001
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=sj_qg_fHP2oC&oi=fnd&pg=PA33&dq=Social+Cognitive+Theory+and+Behaviorism&ots=7XWwu_m13S&sig=06EGadi_c1zdXP0wcGY683VFAao
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