Differences between Operant Learning and Observational Learning
is a relatively permanent change in behavior that is the result of
experience. During the first half of the twentieth century, the school of thought
known as behaviorism rose to dominate psychology and sought to explain
the learning process. The three major types of learning described by
behavioral psychology are classical conditioning, operant conditioning
and observational learning.
Operant conditioning is a learning process in which the probability
of response occurring is increased or decreased due to reinforcement or
punishment. First studied by Edward Thorndike and later by B.F. Skinner, the underlying idea behind operant conditioning is that the consequences of our actions shape voluntary behavior.
Observational learning is a process in which learning occurs through observing and imitating others. As demonstrated in Albert Bandura's
classic "Bobo Doll" experiments, people will imitate the actions of
others without direct reinforcement. Four important elements are
essential for effective observational learning: attention, motor
skills, motivation and memory.