This weekend, I traveled to Iowa for a quick visit to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. I found myself already an observer, with plenty to take in and analyze, especially while I was at the airport in Dallas as well as in Minneapolis. I’ll start with my daughter, Maya. She is eight years old, has an advanced vocabulary, a sunny disposition; however, as one might expect, very impressionable. What is social learning? The lesson commentary defines social learning as a basic idea that is capture in the name itself. It means learning from others, specifically in a social setting, or quite frankly, we learn by observing (PSU WC, L5, 2020). Social learning seems to be particularly effective in young children, like my daughter.
We’ve all heard the continuous news reports of the now spreading virus called COVID-19. Most of us have probably seen people walking around with face masks in our grocery stores, school games and most likely in airports. This weekend when we boarded the tram to be transported from one terminal to the next, we were keenly aware of everyone around us and especially those that exhibited signs of a cold or perhaps more. There were sneezing, coughing, runny noses and then the few people here and there with facemasks. Fearful, like any parent, might be during this extraordinarily difficult time of what’s being called a possible pandemic, my husband continued to remind my daughter not to touch the rails in the tram or her seat. He also reminded her to cover her mouth and nose when she sneezes or coughs. My daughter at that point looked around and said, “everyone else is holding on to the poles, what am I supposed to do to hang on.” Understandably, she made an observation and provided an excellent example of social learning. The protest of most children when most others are all participating in the same behavior.
My husband was also very nervous about people’s impressions of my daughters, sneezing, and coughing. What most would not know is that she has suffered from allergies, most likely since birth. So, why was my husband so nervous about this? In the last several weeks, there have been what some news outlets are calling COVID-19 to hate-related crimes. While the people of this country should be informed on both the dangers and possibilities, as well as preventative measures, there is a fine line in doing so without causing mass hysteria. It’s our unfortunate reality that we, as humans, may be prone to stereotyping, stigmatizing and unfortunately following another’s lead.
We now know that the virus, COVID-19, was found to have an origin in Wuhan, China. Since the news reports have made their way around the airwaves, there have been news reports of hate crimes related to COVID-19 on people of Asian descent. These hate-related crimes or potential of hate crimes has sparked some warnings from the CDC concerning stereotyping and stigmatizing of people of Asian descent. The CDC has put out the following statement. “Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma towards Chinese or other Asian Americans. Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk of the illness (“Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”, 2020).”
To conclude my post, I thought it was important to share just how powerful social learning is. My observations started with my daughter, and her protest to her husband in refusing to not hold on the poles. At the same time, we rode the airport tram to my husband’s fear that some might accuse my daughter of having contracted the COVID-19 virus and potentially quarantine her an, of course, us. The example I provide of my daughter is not quite as extreme as that of Bandura (1986) as cited in PSU WC, L5, (2020). However, we can see how impressionable our youth are, and in this case, I observed the majority was holding on to the poles in the tram so she should go as well despite the objections of my husband.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2020). Retrieved 2 March 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html
Pennsylvania State University. (2020). Lesson 5: Learning and Change in a Global Setting.
Social Learning. Retrieved from