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Theories & Approaches

All Theories & Approaches

Some Specific Social Learning Theories

Social Learning Theory (SLT) is an umbrella for a host of more specific learning theories. These theories can be used alone or in combination with other learning theories. The four most common SLTs, and example curricula which are based on them, are explained below.

  • Social Cognitive Theory, a term often used interchangeably with SLT, emphasizes the learner having knowledge, motivation, outcome expectancy and self-efficacy. The curricula Be Proud! Be Responsible! and Focus on Kids are based on social cognitive theory.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Theory emphasizes the learner personalizing knowledge, gaining skills, and having self-efficacy. Cognitive behavioral theory is one of the foundation theories of Reducing the Risk.

  • Social Inoculation Theory emphasizes behavioral rehearsal, where learners become "immunized" by practicing resisting future peer pressure to engage in risky behavior. The curriculum Postponing Sexual Involvement by Marion Howard and Marie Mitchell is based on social inoculation theory.

  • Social Influence Theory emphasizes changing social norms as a way to change the individual. Safer Choices and Reducing the Risk were based in part on social influence theory.

For more information on these specific types of SLTs, refer to Teaching About Sexuality and HIV: Principles and Methods for Effective Education, Evonne Hedgepeth and Joan Helmich, New York University Press, 1996. Also refer to the Resources section.


Next: Case Study: Reducing the Risk