Individuals acquire knowledge and skills by both direct and symbolic terms .Primary capabilities address important foundations of the Social Cognitive Theory ,.Symbolizing ,self-regulation ,self-reflective and vicarious capabilities .Vicarious capabilities-critical ability of human behavior to master and adopt skills and knowledge communicated through a wide array of mediums .By vicariously observing others action and its consequence individuals can gain insights into their own .Vicarious capabilities are of great value to human beings cognitive developments in nowadays ,in which most of our information encountered in our lives derives from the mass media than trial and error processes.
2.3.3 Modeling, Self-efficacy and Identification
Social Cognitive Theory revolves around the process of knowledge and the acquisition or learning directly correlated to the observation of models. Models can be of an interpersonal imitation or media sources .Albert Bandura tests whether models presented through media (video) by constructing an experiment he called Bobo Doll Behavior; a study of aggression .This experiment displays the Social Cognitive Theory because it depicts how people re-enact behaviors they see in the media.
The observations that attention observers selectively give attention to specific social behaviors depending on accessibility, relevance, complexity functional value of the behavior .Retention observers observe a behavior and subsequent consequence production to symbolic representation of the original behavior. During reproduction a person receives feedback from others and can adjust for future reference.
Motivational process re-enacts a behavior depending on the response and consequence the observer receives when re-enacting that behavior .Modelling does not allow only students to learn behaviors that they should repeat but also to inhibit certain behaviors. Learning mostly occurs if there is a close identification between the observers and the model. According to Bandura self -efficacy is the belief in ones capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations. Self- efficacy plays a central role in cognition .For example students become more effortful ,active, pay attention ,highly motivated when they perceive they have mastered a particular art/ task. Identification therefore allows observers to feel a one on one similarity with the model and can therefore lead to a higher chance of the observer following through the modelled action .The more commonalities the likely the observer learns and re-enacts the modelled behavior.
2.3.4 Media content and effect studies
Social Cognitive Theory suggested heavily repeated images presented in the mass media can be potentially processed and encoded by the viewers (Bandura, 2011). Media content that viewers are exposed to should provide an opportunity to uncover the social values attached to these media representations .The capacity of humans to think abstractly or symbolically positions the media as an important source of information to facilitate observational learning and increases self-efficacy to perform given behaviors (Bandura,1994).In turn Social Cognitive Theory offers a vantage point from which to examine the influence of mediated content on audiences’ attitudes and behaviors (Bandura,2001,2002,2004).
Social Cognitive Theory is pervasively employed in studies examining attitude and behavior change. As Bandura suggested, people can learn how to perform behaviors through media modelling .Social Cognitive Theory has been applied in the media studies pertained to sports, health, education and beyond .Moral competence is the growth of cognitive sensory processes, for the most part. Social Cognitive Theory affects audience positively especially basing on its core tenents .Models engaging in positive behavior should be positively reinforced while those engaging in negative behaviors should be negatively reinforced (Austin and Meili,1994;Bandura,2001,Stiff,1986).In such mediated depictions of behavior may be instrumental in bringing about positive personal and social changes, although alternative pairings of behaviors and reinforcements can prove to be problematic (Bandura,2001,2002,2004; Nabi and Clark,2008).
It is therefore evident that the theory has been used to explain both intended (positive) and unintended (unintended) effects of media.
2.3.5 Social Cognitive Theory-unintended media effects
Given that media as a landscape is populated with attractive likeable characters often engaging in risky or anti-social behaviors; it is only logical to presume that audience will model such behaviors. Harri