Abstract Modeling

Abstract modeling is a way of learning skills and behaviors by the indirect observation of others. A major component of Albert Bandura's Social Congnitive Theory (SCT), abstract modeling occurs (often unconsciously) when a person observes another person's behaviors or actions and learns the skill. We learn most things by observational learning from our parents, peers, and teachers.

We also use abstract modeling from verbal, written, and auditory information such as films and books. Information and skills learned from abstract modeling can be generalized into other similar situations. After a person observes their parents interact with people in social settings many of these behaviors and actions are generalized into other similar settings. By observing how people act in a fancy restaurant you can generalize these behaviors to other formal settings, like a fancy dinner party or gala.

Abstract modeling is different from cognitive modeling which is an explanation of the skill or action is presented along with the demonstration of the skill. An example of cognitive modeling would be a gym teacher explaining how to properly kick a soccer ball as they were demonstrating how to do it. Abstract modeling would be observing another person kicking a soccer ball properly on your own and learning how to do it yourself.

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