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Social Cognitive Theory-Effect Change in the Effort to Promote Health

Social Cognitive Theory-Effect Change in the Effort to Promote Health

Social Cognitive Theory, developed by Albert Bandura, is a theoretical framework that a Mental Health Registered Nurse can apply to promote health behaviors aimed towards preventing and managing PTSD, substance abuse, and mental illnesses.

Basic Tenets of Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory is centered on the idea that learning occurs within a social context (Nickerson, 2023). The basic tenets of the Social Cognitive Theory include observational learning, self-efficacy, social comparison, and outcome expectations (Beauchamp et al., 2019). The tenet of observational learning, according to Albert Bandura, is that individuals learn from others by watching their actions and observing their behaviors (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). Through observational learning, people end up relating to these actions and behaviors. The concept of self-efficacy emphasizes how individuals perceive themselves and how their capacity to perform certain actions influences their behavior (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). The social comparison tenet focuses on helping understand how the dynamic interactions between personal factors, such as beliefs and attitudes, and the environment interact and how they influence behaviors bidirectionally. The outcome expectations focus on how people are motivated to engage in certain behaviors based on expected positive outcomes (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020).

Application of the Social Cognitive Theory for Health Promotion and Effect Change Behaviors

The Social Cognitive Theory is relevant in healthcare and nursing practice, such as mental health nursing, to effect positive change in patient behaviors. For instance, as the Social Cognitive Theory is a major theory of motivation (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020), it can be applied to patients with substance use disorder and related mental health disorders to model desirable behaviors. In this case, the patient is asked to identify people they take as role models in overcoming drug and substance use issues. The patient can then emulate the role model’s behaviors to help them overcome their drug use disorder.

The Social Cognitive Theory also focuses on improving self-efficacy (Beauchamp et al., 2019). Therefore, the theory can be applied to help the patient develop a more confident and positive view of themselves. This can be done by emphasizing self-positive affirmations and having achievable goals that reinforce positive self-perception. Setting achievable goals with positive outcomes and ensuring sufficient social support is available to the patient can motivate them to adopt health-promoting behaviors. Moreover, achieving a higher level of self-efficacy improves the likelihood of engaging in health-promoting change behavior.

Social Support and Its Role in Health Promotion

Social support is an essential element of health promotion and maintenance. It includes providing others with material, information, emotional, and mental support. Social support, as noted during the COVID-19 period, significantly impacts mental health and overall subjective well-being (Hou et al., 2020). Social support is currently easily available on modern social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other messaging sites. Inarguably, social media has a significant impact on health behavior. For example, during the COVID-19 era, social media was central in informing physical activity and diet-related behaviors, influencing self-perceived quality of Life (QoL) (Goodyear et al., 2021). However, prolonged and frequent social media use is linked to mental health issues, including isolation and depression (Zhao & Zhou, 2020). Regardless of the role of social media in providing support, its usage needs to be moderated to avoid issues of isolation and negative mental outcomes.


Beauchamp, M. R., Crawford, K. L., & Jackson, B. (2019). Social cognitive theory and physical activity: Mechanisms of behaviour change, critique, and legacy. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 42, 110–117.

Goodyear, V. A., Boardley, I., Chiou, S. Y., Fenton, S. A. M., Makopoulou, K., Stathi, A., Wallis, G. A., Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J. J. C. S., & Thompson, J. L. (2021). Social media use informing behaviors related to physical activity, diet and quality of life during COVID-19: a mixed methods study. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1–14.

Hou, T., Zhang, T., Cai, W., Song, X., Chen, A., Deng, G., & Ni, C. (2020). Social support and mental health among health care workers during Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak: A moderated mediation model. PLOS ONE, 15(5), e0233831.

Nickerson, C. (2023). Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory: Definition & Examples. Simply Psychology.

Schunk, D. H., & DiBenedetto, M. K. (2020). Motivation and social cognitive theory. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 60, 101832.

Zhao, N., & Zhou, G. (2020). Social Media Use and Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Moderator Role of Disaster Stressor and Mediator Role of Negative Affect. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 12(4), 1019–1038.


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Choose one of the models listed to promote health behavior:
• Health Belief Model
• Theory of Planned Behavior
• Social Cognitive Theory
Describe the basic tenets of your chosen model.

Social Cognitive Theory-Effect Change in the Effort to Promote Health

Social Cognitive Theory-Effect Change in the Effort to Promote Health

How might you use your chosen models/theory to help patients effect change in the effort to promote health? Provide specific examples relative to your practice.
Discuss social support and the role it plays in health promotion and health maintenance. Include the role of social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and other messaging sites). How do these platforms positively and negatively contribute to providing support for patients?

My profession: Mental Health Registered Nurse specializes in PTSD, substance abuse, and mental illnesses

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