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I want to be just like you

Updated on May 5, 2017

The Social Learning theory is when a person learns by observing people around them and it explains how people learn to pick up new behaviors, values, and attitude. A researcher has shown this through an experiment call the Bobo Doll experiment. The researcher Albert Bandura conducted this study in order to learn more about social behaviors that children demonstrate. He conducted the experiment on boys and girls from ages between three to six years old, and he wanted to see how aggressive they can be by observing aggressive actions. He grouped the children into three groups: the first group of the kids watched an adult behave aggressively to the Bobo doll, the second group of children were watching an adult behave non-aggressively to the doll, and the last group were the control group and they did not have an adult to showing any behavior towards the doll. The results from the each group of children demonstrated the same actions as the adult who showed them how to behave a certain way to doll. Throughout the experiment it presents how little kids get affected by learning new things from adults by observing them, sometimes the actions that the adult is doing may not be good or bad but the child picks up the behavior thinking it is normal to do.


The film that I chose that demonstrates the Social Learning Theory is Big Daddy, directed by Dennis Dugan. This paper will present different scenes of the movie that demonstrates social learning. This films shows Adam Sandler, who play Sonny Koufax, who ends up adopting a five-year-old boy, but things do not end up the way he thought it would with taking care of the child. Throughout the film Adam Sandler struggles to be a good parent and whatever choices he makes the little boy sees and he does them as well. There is a part of the film when both of them are at the park and they are observing skaters pass by and Adam picks up a stick and puts on the road causing the skater to trip and fall into the pond. Later on in the day the boy sees a group of people practicing to skate on the road, and he places a stick where they are practicing and watches the skater trip, and he believes it is okay because the little boy starts to cheer when he did the same thing Adam did. The next scene, which is known to be the biggest part of the film and is also in the cover, is when they are standing in front of the building door peeing in public. Again the boy is being taught to pee in public and that it is normal and accepted in society because no one has tried to correct him. The little boy is being taught how to misbehave and be aggressive towards people around him, and later on in the film his attitude will affect him during school.


This film demonstrate theory of social learning because we can see that the Julian, the little boy played by Dylan and Cole Sprouse, was acting the same way as Sonny, Adam Sandler, because he believed that it was okay to behave that way and there were no consequences for his actions. Julian was observing Sonny in order to learn how to behave, what his values should be, and what kind of attitude he should have. Little kids tend to look up to an adult to learn the ways of how to grow up and be just like them. The people that influences them the most would be parents, teachers, siblings and friends. For Julian he looked up to Sonny who was like father for him and also Sonny’s friend, both of which had an impact to his life since they are always around him at home.


Later in the film it starts to show that the little boy is now doing good things because Sonny decided to turn things around by showing the boy how to be better than what he was teaching him what to do in the beginning of the film. The teacher brings it up to Sonny that Julian is a concern to her because of the way he has been behaving and the attitude that he has presented to his classmates. The example that she gives to him was that when he spilled a bottle of glue on the floor and decided to hide it with newspaper, he did not tell anyone and the other boy, who is doing his show and tell about rolling blades, tripped and fell down and Julian was the only one laughing at the other boy. This becomes a wakeup call for Sonny, so he decides to start teaching Julian how behave better and to educate him, for example: tying his shoe lace, learning to good hygiene, peeing in the bathroom instead of on doors, problem solving, history, and English.


It is important to always do the right thing when it comes to being around children, because when they observe an adult do something they believe that it okay to do and they will not get punished for mimicking the same actions. Throughout the film you can see the phases that they both go through together from doing bad actions to doing the positive and correct things. The Social Learning Theory does have an effect on everyone, not just to children on a daily basis, and we use this theory every day to learn to solve things and how to get things done.

Do you agree or disagree on how children are learning different kind of norms from adults?

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    • Daniel17White profile image

      Daniel White 3 months ago

      Kids are like sponges, they soak up everything they hear and see and its no surprise that they grow up doing what they saw! Great article!

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 3 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Great observation and a good hub. Children are impressionable and mimic adults and siblings. My 30 month granddaughter recently said,"Oh crap!!" She had heard her brothers 8 and 10 use the word. Some years ago a lady I know used an expletive and my grandson soon blurted that word out. Your right care must be taken to guard our conversations in front of kids.