Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura

Developmental Psychology psychologist Social Psychology

Profile: Albert Bandura

David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University

Albert Bandura (December 4, 1925 - ) is a Canadian behavioural psychologist best known for his work on Social Learning Theory; in particular his influential Bobo Doll experiment (1961).

Albert Bandura was born in the small town of Mundare (Alberta, Canada). He was the youngest of six siblings, and the only son. Bandura immigrated to the USA in 1949, and became an American citizen in 1956. He had two daughters with his wife, Virginia Varns (1921-2011).

Bandura stumbled upon Psychology during his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, where he won the Bolocan Award in Psychology. He then moved to the University of Iowa to complete his Masters (1951) and Doctorate (1952) degrees. The University of Iowa was renowned at the time for Theoretical Psychology. In 1953, Bandura joined Stanford University, with which he remains associated as the David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology.

At the age of 48, Bandura was elected as the Eighty-Second President of the American Psychological Association (APA). He also sat on the editorial boards of nine psychology journals, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology from 1963 to 1972. In 2008, Bandura was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. In 2014, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his foundational contributions to social psychology, notably for uncovering the influence of observation on human learning and aggression".

Bandura ranks as the fourth most-cited psychologist of all time, behind B. F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Jean Piaget. He is currently the most cited living Psychologist.

Bandura was influenced by Robert Sears’ work on familiar antecedents of social behaviour. He directed  his initial research towards the role of social modelling in human motivation, cognition and behaviour. In collaboration with Richard Walters, his first doctoral student, Bandura explored the topic of social learning and aggression, for which he is now famous.

Bandura’s research led to the development of Social Learning Theory, which posits that social models are an important source for learning new behaviours and achieving behavioural change in institutionalised settings.

Social Learning Theory suggests there are three influential factors that apply to socially learned behaviours: (1) social context, (2) feedback and reinforcements, and (3) cognitive ability to recognise, understand and complete a behaviour.

In the mid-1980s Bandura sought to broaden his theoretical approach to provide a more comprehensive analysis of human cognition in the context of social learning. His developed theoretical framework became known as Social Cognitive Theory (1986).