Building Self-Efficacy through Vicarious Experience

Most human behavior is learned by observation through modeling" (Bandura,1986)

Basic Notion:

Some examples:


Whitewater Kyaking


Vertical Climb in an Airplane

Bungee Jumping


Hang Gliding




Bandura's ideas were originally directed to clinical treatment situations (e.g. snake phobias).

But, jive with many practical experiences -

We approach situations that we see others like ourselves doing successfully.

And for which incentives are present

Can we understand and control vicarious experience to maximize direction, intensity, and correctness of behavior (self-efficacy)?

Modeling Effects are a result of information processing, and are mediated by the following processes:

In contrast to models which suggest a more direct union of observing and doing (Dynamic Systems Approaches - Turvey, 1990)

Attention: What do we attend to and why?

Model Attributes:

What must we attend to learn?

Retention Processes: Coding of Information in Memory

Constructive process: bits and pieces combined into meaningful codes

Images, verbal, kinesthetic, tactile combination?

Images are more likely associated with motor skills - spatial element (Sybernetic Tapes).

Verbal codes more relevant to sequential instructions (directions on how to bake a cake, or break a zone defense)

What factors might facilitate retention processes?

Participant modeling - observer watches and performs.

Timing of demonstration in learning process - internal/external dimension.

Organization of demonstration - level of learning theory; use of building on what learner already understands (back scratching, throwing, "serape effect")

Variability in performance vs consistency of correct execution (variability teaches rules; consistency form and sequence)

Mental practice - enhances vividness and stability of code

Production Processes: deconstructing "image" into spatial and temporal motor commands.

Originally modeling theory was related to social responses which were dichotomous in nature.

In the motor domain, the spatial and temporal qualities of the movement are critical, and should be measured along with outcome.

In normal motor learning, feedback from a response is compared against an internal image, and error is reduced during a slow movement or on the next trial of a rapid one.

The question of feedback is particularly interesting in vicarious learning since minimal or no feedback is experienced during acquisition, yet learning seems to have occurred!

Production Process Issues:

Some researchers have pondered whether recall and recognition are differentially affected in observational and normal physical learning?

Syzuki Method - One acquires an "image" of the correct result (recognition), but needs to learn how to produce it (recall).

Motivational Processes:

Responses will not occur despite having attended to, retained, and developed the necessary skills unless incentives are present.

Tangible rewards

Vicarious rewards

Self-incentives (goal-setting)

Social comparisons

Why might Self-Efficacy be enhanced via vicarious experience/modeling?

Beliefs change regarding capabilities

Important task information about skills are retained

Strategies for executing targeted behaviors are learned

Motivation may be enhanced from anticipating various kinds of rewards

Modeling as an instrument to build Self-efficacy