Albert Bandura is one of the most famous and influential psychologists in the world. Spanning basic and applied psychology, his seminal theoretical contributions have led to significant advances in the treatment of clinical disorders, health promotion, and collective action for social change. Bandura is one of a handful of original thinkers and gifted researchers who have defined personality and clinical psychology as we know them today.
Bandura’s early research resulted in an innovative analysis of aggression in adolescents that exposed the limitations of both Freudian and behavioristic theories. He identified social modeling as a powerful process that could influence motivation, learning, and action. It was the basis of his development of social learning theory. A landmark text, Principles of Behavior Modification (1969), laid the theoretical foundation for the emerging field of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Social learning theory transcended the behavioristic heritage of behavior therapy in emphasizing the central importance of cognitive processes in mediating behavior change. The theory emphasized self-regulation and the human capacity for self-directed change. By enriching our understanding of the mechanisms of behavior change, it enhanced the scope and efficacy of treatment.
In the 1980s Bandura renamed his approach Social Cognitive Theory. A centerpiece is the concept of self-efficacy that has guided his research over the past two decades. Accumulating evidence attests to the vital influence of perceived self-efficacy on motivation, health, achievement, psychological well-being. Bandura’s current theorizing and research is focused on the role of symbolic modeling in the social diffusion of values and behavior change. Televised serial dramas drawing on social cognitive theory are designed to address social issues (e.g., family planning) in developing countries. This research blends his theoretical interests with an abiding concern for improving social conditions.
A generous and inspiring mentor, Bandura has groomed numerous students who themselves have achieved distinction. He has an imposing array of awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the American Psychological Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from institutions in North America and Europe.