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Vicarious Conditioning: Shared Experiences and Understanding

Vicarious Conditioning is a fancy term that comes from the ideas of a famous psychologist named Albert Bandura a long time ago. It’s all about how we learn by watching other people. Instead of learning from our own direct experiences like in other types of learning, vicarious conditioning is about how we pick up new behaviors and knowledge just by seeing what others do. So, it’s like learning by watching and copying what others are doing around us.

What is Vicarious Conditioning

Vicarious conditioning is when we learn by watching what happens to other people instead of experiencing things ourselves. The word “vicarious” means experiencing things through others. So, when it comes to learning, it means we can pick up new behaviors and reactions by seeing what happens to others when they do something.

Vicarious Conditioning

Key Components of Vicarious Conditioning

  1. Watching Others: Vicarious conditioning is all about learning by watching what others do. These people we watch are called “models,” and they can be real or made-up characters. We start learning by paying attention to their actions and behaviors.
  2. Copying Behavior: After we watch and learn, we might copy or imitate what we saw. How much we copy depends on things like how much we think we’re like the person we watched, how good they are at what they did, and what happens because of their actions.
  3. Good or Bad Outcomes: What happens to the person we watched is super important. If they get a reward for what they did, we’re more likely to copy them. But if something bad happens to them, we might decide not to do what they did.
  4. Rewards and Punishments: Rewards and punishments are like important tools in this learning process. If the person we watched gets something good for what they did, we’re more likely to do the same. But if they get something bad, we might avoid doing what they did. It’s like when you see someone getting a treat for doing a good job, and you decide to do the same to get a treat too. Or if you see someone getting in trouble for something, you might choose not to do that thing to avoid getting in trouble.

Related Info: Malicious Compliance: Crafting Chaos within Constraints


here are simplified explanations of applications of vicarious conditioning:

  1. Learning from Parents: Kids learn a lot by watching their parents. If a child sees their mom or dad doing something often, like reading books, the child might start to enjoy reading too.
  2. Workplace Behavior: At work, people pick up how to behave by watching others. For instance, if everyone at the office is always on time, new employees will probably start being punctual too.
  3. Sports Training: Athletes can get better by watching others. If someone sees a skilled player do a cool move in a sport, they might try to copy that move to improve their own game.
  4. Public Speaking Confidence: Some people get scared of speaking in public. By watching others speak confidently, they can learn tips and gain confidence for themselves.
  5. Healthy Living: People learn to stay healthy by seeing others do it. If friends or family members exercise regularly or eat well, others might start doing the same to stay healthy.
  6. Learning from Mistakes: In the justice system, when someone faces consequences for doing something wrong, it can teach others not to do the same. It’s like learning from someone else’s mistake.
  7. Protecting the Environment: People learn to take care of the planet by watching others. If someone sees their neighbors recycling or using less plastic, they might start doing the same to help the environment.
  8. Trying New Technology: When people see their friends using cool gadgets or apps, they might want to try them too. It’s like learning from others’ experiences with technology.

Related Info: Vicarious Reinforcement: Connecting Through Others


Vicarious conditioning is all about how we learn from watching and copying others. It helps us understand how people pick up new skills, attitudes, and behaviors by looking at what others do. Knowing how vicarious conditioning works can help us figure out how people behave and make better plans for teaching, understanding media, and helping people feel better through therapy. Top of Form

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