Albert Bandura is a well know theorist for his extensive contribution to psychology. He is well known for his theories, such as the Bobo doll experiment, observational learning, self-efficacy, and social learning (Bandura, 2005; Schunk and DiBenedetto, 2020). All the theories continue to influence different areas of psychology, such as personality psychology, cognitive psychology, education/learning psychology, and psychotherapy. This article will focus on Albert Bandura and his social cognitive theory, which comprises observational learning, self-efficacy, and social learning theory concepts.
The mission, vision, and purpose of the social cognitive theory (SCT)
Bandura developed the social cognitive theory in the 1960s as a social learning theory and later improved it to social cognitive theory (SCT) in 1986. The SCT has unique features that emphasize social influence, external factors, and social reinforcement as the key factors determining how individuals acquire and sustain their behavior. According to Bandura, an individual makes a presence decision based on past experiences, which influence social reinforcement, expectations, expectancies, and willingness/reason to engage in a particular behavior. This theory is unique compared to other theories of behavior used in the healthcare sector because it considers how behaviors are initiated and maintained among individuals. Luszczyncka and Schwarzer (2015) suggest that the general objective of the SCT is to provide a comprehensive explanation of how people regulate their behaviors in a real-life situation that is influenced by external factors, social reinforcement, and social influence aspects over time. Bandura believes that the SCT that includes self-efficacy constructs such as reciprocal determinism, behavioral capability, observational learning, reinforcements, expectations, and self-efficacy can better explain how people regulate their behavior to achieve and maintain expected behaviors. Therefore, the purpose of the SCT is to describe the influence of an individual’s experiences and changes in behavior based on different concepts and specifically self-efficacy, behavioral capability, expectations, expectancies, self-control, observational learning, and reinforcements.
Socio-cognitive causal structure in nursing clinical practices
If nurses lack awareness of how their clinical practices influence or affect the quality of care and their performance, they have little reason to change their bad clinical practices and adopt good ones. The social cognitive theory emphasizes that learning is the most effective way of creating awareness among nurses of the negative impact of their bad clinical practices (Abd Elhamed et al., 2019; Manjarre-Posada et al., 2020). It also emphasizes that learning is a high knowledge creation approach that sets the precondition for clinical practice change. But learning is not enough to change bad clinical practices and motivate nurses to adopt good clinical practices. With this in mind, the social cognitive theory emphasizes personal efficacy as an essential factor that influences the capability of nurses to organize and execute the course of their clinical practices required to attain high-quality care service in healthcare.
Nonetheless, the setting where nurses work varies widely and may entail factors that regulate nurse motivation to change and maintain good clinical practices. For example, the environmental conditions vary widely based on the nurses’ workplace, organizational policy, code of ethics, professional standards, and regulatory requirements. SCT take this aspect into account by emphasizing that nurse should work in an environment or a workplace where their belief allows them to establish designed clinical practices and encourage them to adopt desired clinical practices to improve the quality of care (Schunk and DiBenedetto, 2020). SCT also emphasizes that the exercise of control on clinical nurse practices requires skills and efficacy beliefs, which act as the motivators and determinants of individuals’ goals among nurses (Shorey and Lopez, 2021; Strudwick et al., 2016). For example, the nurses’ belief in the capability to provide quality care in the event of adversities determines whether they make a good or bad decision in the profession. SCT focuses on explaining how factors such as mastery experiences, social experiences, social persuasion, and somatic/emotional states act as the greatest source of strengthening nurses’ belief in their capability to perform according to expectation and successfully provide high-quality care to patients.
How does SCT improve clinical nursing practices?
In general, SCT encourages nurses to use learning approaches to acquire knowledge and comprehend new clinical practices that improve their performance and the quality of their care to the patient. It teaches nurses new material and tasks for solving problems, adopting expected clinical practices, building constructive relationships with their co-workers/patients, managing emotions, and developing expected moral and ethical practices in their profession (Strudwick et al., 2016). It also identifies key ways to motivate nurses to learn new clinical practices and nursing interventions that can improve their practice and increase the quality of care to the patients. For instance, the SCT emphasizes that an environment that ensures nurse safety and has other stimulus conditions can reinforce positive change in clinical practices and improve how nurses offer quality care to the patient in healthcare (Chang et al., 2018). It engages nurses to build a good social relationships with their co-workers and their patients to have more insight into improving the quality of care to their patients. Working as a nurse sometimes involves a lot of pressure and stress. This theory proposes effective ways and approaches that nurses can use to manage their emotions and develop moral/ethical practices to meet their professional standards in nursing practices.