Bandura's learning theory goes beyond classical or operant theories by suggesting that behavior is influenced by observations of the surrounding environment that model behaviors. The antecedent or discriminative stimulus component is learned socially rather than from personal experience (Friedman & Schustack, 2009). Further, his most famous study shows how children, without the reinforcement component of operant conditioning, learn from a film how to "beat up" a large doll, and then immediately repeat the learning in real life (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.). Self-regulation is also important to Bandura, as he says we are able to control behavior, giving us the concept of "free will," which is something neither pure behaviorists nor psychoanalytic schools provide (Friedman & Schustack, 2009).
Bandura's view of learning began as a social learning behavioral model, and is now described as social cognition, which shows his shift to a cognitive approach. The observational learning component relies on cognition, or attention; memory, or retention; and abilities to work with what is learned, which is reproduction. Further, there has to be motivation on the part of the learner to see that observed learning is reinforced into behavior, and also to share what has been learned in ways that may extend to the observed learning of others. To initiate a behavior in the attention phase, the learned information must be attractive to the learner to motivate the learner to absorb, remember, and act on it. This information is described in terms of distinctiveness, complexity, value, and affective, or emotional, valence. Valence is a spatial concept that describes the emotional value of an event in social terms. Motivation, which in the bigger picture is necessary for success, is related to a confident self-perception called self-efficacy that describes an individual's strength to overcome adversity and achieve goals.
His use of words such as vicarious and valence helps illustrate the social nature of his ideas. Vicarious is used to describe the acquisition of the learning from the behavioral experiences of others. The "emotional" attractiveness of observed objects is called valence (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.). The term valence is used by Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist who described it in the contexts of "field theory" and "vectors" (Freeman, 1940) in ways that support Bandura's social modeling theory from an unusual, yet scientific, angle. Freeman describes Lewin's field-theory as stating that "properties of behaviour" (1940, p. 1) are the product of "dynamic relationships between neural activities" (1940, p. 1).
Freeman, G. (1940). Concerning the 'field' in 'field' psychology. Psychological Review, 47(5), 416-424. doi:10.1037/h0063216.