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Modeling Behavior

By “modeling behavior,” I am not referring to “striking a pose” or “looking fierce” (although I have been accused of posing like at model). In behavioral psychology terminology, modeling, sometimes referred to as social learning theory, is when “people learn new information and behaviors by watching other people,” according to Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. Usually, we think of this as something children do – they learn to eat with a fork by observing their parents at the dinner table. My niece was classic case of modeling when she picked up a watering can for the first time at age one and knew exactly what to do with it from watching her mother water flowers.

At a previous job, I trained people to give tours by “modeling” good tour practices. This is all well and good when you have someone who is modeling good behavior and the person on the receiving end is aware enough to ask questions when he or she is unsure or something seems off.  Unfortunately, some of the trainees didn’t care about what they were doing and would just repeat anything they heard or saw modeled for them. A co-worker called it “mocking” behavior. We used to laugh at how lazy and ignorant these trainees seemed. Reflecting back on my poor attitude in this situation, it seems very hypocritical now because for years I’ve demonstrated the behaviors modeled for me by my parents without asking any questions or thinking anything was wrong.
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