Modeling (psychology)

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Modeling is:

  1. a method used in certain techniques of psychotherapy whereby the client learns by imitation alone, without any specific verbal direction by the therapist (See Cognitive behavior therapy) and
  2. a general process in which persons serve as models for others, exhibiting the behavior to be imitated by the others[1][2] This process is most commonly discussed with respect to children in developmental psychology.

Confusingly, the word refers both to the behavior of the learner and the teacher.

Modeling is an important component of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), which field has further developed specialized techniques involving modeling. (See NLP modeling.)

As the name implies, in the modeling the client learns new skills by imitating another person, such as a parent or therapist, who performs the behavior to be acquired. A younger client may be exposed to behaviors or roles in peers who act as assistants to therapist & then be encouraged to imitate & practice the desired new responses. For example, modeling may be used to promote the learning of simple skills such as self-feeding for a profoundly intellectually disabled child, or more complex skills such as being more effective in social situations for a shy withdrawn adolescent.

Albert Bandura[edit]

An example of modeling would be that of the Bobo Doll Experiment run by Albert Bandura. The experiment shows children one of two ways to act toward a doll, adults "model" a behavior to see how the children react. The adults would be aggressive toward the doll and either get punished or rewarded for their actions. The children that were exposed to the rewarded aggressive behavior would act more aggressively toward the doll. The children that were exposed to the punished aggressive behavior would not act aggressively toward the doll.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ VandenBoss, Gary (2006) APA Dictionary of Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
  2. ^ Westen, D.; Burton, L. & Kowalski, R. (2006) Psychology: Australian and New Zealand Edition. Milton, QLD. John Wiley and Sons.