Principles of Behavior Modeling

Behavior modeling or imitation learning was a virtually unresearched and unknown topic prior to the 1941 publication of Social Learning and Imitation by Miller and Dollard. Their studies lead them to view imitation learning as a special form of the behavioral conditioning process.

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Essentially, the trainer must provide a sample of the behavior, the learner must respond in a way that matches the sample, and the imitation must be positively reinforced. In Bollard’s and Miller’s view, the “model” simply informs the learner where to go or how to behave for reinforcement. The learner does not acquire new, previously unexhibited behavior from the model. Though much of Miller’s and Bollard’s interpretation of results and theorizing has been questioned recently, they deserve credit for prim-ing the pump, for beginning to reĀ¬search the question, “How and what do people learn simply by watching others?” Continue reading