Do as I do, not as I say.

Did any of you ever have a parent instruct you to “Do as I say, not as I do.”  I usually heard this when one of my parents was about to do something they didn’t want me to learn how to do.  If they had seen the Bobo Doll videos they likely would have hidden from my view those things!  I watched in awe at the violence the children perpetrated on the Bobo Doll, and as Dr. Bandura said in his interview, the children not only learned, but expanded on the violence they initially saw with some creativity. (Bandura, 1963)

Then I saw this video clip:


What could children (and soft-hearted adults like me) learn from the gentle modelling of affection we see in this video?  Observational learning theory states that we learn based on what we see.  We don’t imitate it exactly, but can creatively expand on the examples we see.  Is it naive of me to suggest that we can flood our children’s and student’s world with behavior modelling how we want them to respond to others and that we might even see them being more kind and gentle if that is what we expose them to?

I don’t suggest that we protect children from all adversity or violence, but we can teach them decent and appropriate ways to respond to each other in life.  And we can watch videos of monkey petting puppies when we need some good behavior modeled for ourselves.


Badura, A. (1963) Bobo Doll Experiment. Retrieved 3/27/2015 from:




    Do as I do, not as I say. | Applied Social Psychology (ASP)

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    Do as I do, not as I say. | Applied Social Psychology (ASP)

  3. Rebecca Leah Freeman

    We all can agree that modeling is not the only way to learn. However, since it is a very direct way of learning, children typically respond to it. The phrase that comes to mind is: “children learn best by example”. Essentially, children learn through observing the people around them. This can include learning from observing their parents, peers, or teachers. However, it can also means learning through the television they may watch or books they read too. The social learning states that “people learn by observing the examples of those around them, both good and bad” (Hermes, 2013). Therefore, it’s very important for a parent in particular to not only watch their own behavior but try their best to keep on eye on what their children are watching, reading, etc. because that bad behavior can be copied, and most likely will. It would not be possible to protect children from everything of course but parents should always keep a close eye on what their kids are up to, particularly in an age of technology where information, both good and bad, are at our fingertips. It’s a lot easier for children to stumble across a violent video or an inappropriate image than it ever was thanks to the world wide web. So, parents most likely need to monitor their children more.


    Hermes, A. (2013, August 16). Social Learning Theory in Children. Retrieved April 5, 2015, from

  4. Stephanie Marie Graehling

    This clip I found made me laugh and it is related to what you have wrote about observational learning. It depicts a girl learning to do her makeup from watching someone else do theirs. This is exactly how I learned to do my own makeup, when I was young I would watch my mom put on her makeup, then I would start playing with it myself. This is interesting to me because the other day as I was driving I was thinking about how I do my makeup and how similar I do it to my mom. It is obvious that observational learning played a huge role in my behavior and the way I apply it. Learning skills as well as behavior can come from observational learning (Cherry, n.d.). I also think about other things my parents used to do that I now do, as well as how they behave in social settings. It is amazing how much you pick of from someone from years of observing their behavior. Luckily, I feel the behaviors I have learned are positive ones. It is important knowing the effect that observational learning can have on others and try to promote positive behaviors as much as possible.

    Cherry, K. (n.d.). What Is Observational Learning? Retrieved from

  5. Your example is quite familiar to me. When I was a child, my mom constantly said “do as I say, not as I do” to me. Every time she said that I was thinking “why you could do it but I couldn’t?” Therefore I never listened to her. Bandura’s theory of observational learning certainly could explain this. Accoding to Bandura’s observational learning theory, children would learn behaviors through observations (The Pennsylvania State University, 2015). Based on that, children would learn their parents’ behaviors through observations. Therefore it could be assumed that though parents say “do as I say, not as I do” to their children, their behaviors would still be learned by children through observational learning. This may be the reason why we say we are like our parents.
    Bandura’s theory could work on children, but is it working well with adults as well? I noticed in your post you mentioned that we could watch the video of monkeys petting their puppies to learn that behavior for ourselves. I believe observational learning could still work on adults, but would it be as effective as it works on children? One of the differences between adults and children is adults already conducted their values and attitudes toward the world. They have their own opinions and ways of thinking. These are fixed in a long term perspective. In other words, adults could choose which behaviors they would follow and which they would not, because they have preference for differed behaviors. For each adult the right behaviors and wrong behaviors are different. Therefore, observational learning could be chosen by adults. They could choose which behaviors they would like to learn and which they do not like at all. Based on that to me watching a video of monkey may not work on adults’ behaviors much.

    The Pennsylvania State University. (2015). ‘Learning’ in Lesson 10: Education. PSYCH 424: Applied Social Psychology. Website:

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