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Social Cognitive Theory

 Social Cognitive Theory

The Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is a comprehensive model that provides valuable insights into understanding and influencing human behavior in promoting health behavior. According to Bandura’s theories, SCT is primarily concerned with the dynamic interactions of individual, social, and environmental factors (Islam et al., 2023; LaMorte, 2022; Manjarres-Posada et al., 2020). SCT highlights the importance of observational learning, self-efficacy, and reciprocal determinism in influencing individuals’ health behaviors.

Observational learning constitutes a fundamental principle within the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) framework. It posits that individuals can acquire novel behaviors and knowledge through observing others. This phenomenon manifests through direct observations and media influences (Islam et al., 2023; LaMorte, 2022; Manjarres-Posada et al., 2020). Individuals can learn about healthy habits by observing a family member’s regular exercise routine or accessing informative health videos online. The efficacy of the learning process is often heightened when the observer can establish a connection with the model, resulting in increased identification and replication of behaviors.

Consistently, self-efficacy, a fundamental component of SCT, pertains to an individual’s conviction to effectively execute a behavior or task (Islam et al., 2023; Manjarres-Posada et al., 2020). Individuals with elevated levels of self-efficacy demonstrate a greater propensity to initiate and maintain behaviors conducive to promoting their overall health and well-being. Moreover, nurses and healthcare professionals can enhance patients’ self-efficacy by employing positive reinforcement, establishing attainable objectives, and providing assistance. A nurse may motivate a patient to initiate a consistent exercise regimen and offer commendation and support as the patient attains significant milestones, enhancing their self-assurance in sustaining this behavior.

Subsequently, reciprocal determinism highlights the intricate interplay between individual factors (e.g., cognitive processes and emotions), environmental stimuli, and behavior. This interaction highlights the notion that individuals are not mere recipients of external influences but actively interact with and shape their surroundings. Healthcare providers can assist patients in recognizing the factors in their surroundings that influence their health decisions, thereby promoting the adoption of healthier behaviors (Islam et al., 2023; LaMorte, 2022; Manjarres-Posada et al., 2020). Suppose a patient encounters obstacles in adopting a more nourishing diet due to the restricted availability of nutritious foods in their locality. In that case, a nurse may collaborate with the patient to investigate alternative food options and devise strategies to surmount this environmental hindrance.

Inarguably, social support is essential for promoting and maintaining health, as it aligns with the principles of Social Cognitive Theory (Murdaugh et al., 2019). Social support refers to providing emotional, informational, and instrumental aid by individuals within one’s familial, friendship, peer, and community networks. Social support significantly impacts individuals’ motivation to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. The involvement of social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in facilitating support is multifaceted. Notably, these platforms facilitate connections among individuals who share health goals, allowing them to exchange advice, encouragement, and success stories. Murdaugh et al. (2019) assert that virtual communities centered around fitness, weight loss, and chronic disease management can potentially cultivate feelings of inclusion and responsibility. Nevertheless, one must also consider potential drawbacks. The proliferation of misinformation and the propagation of unrealistic expectations are prevalent phenomena on these platforms. Additionally, prolonged engagement with screens may contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.

In summary, the Social Cognitive Theory provides a comprehensive framework for comprehending modifying health behaviors. The emphasis on observational learning, self-efficacy, and reciprocal determinism in this approach is highly compatible with promoting health behaviors. By applying these principles, healthcare professionals can empower patients to adopt and sustain positive health changes. Social networking sites offer valuable support but require careful navigation to ensure the accuracy of shared information and beneficial support.


Islam, K. F., Awal, A., Mazumder, H., Munni, U. R., Majumder, K., Afroz, K., Tabassum, M. N., & Hossain, M. M. (2023). Social cognitive theory-based health promotion in primary care practice: A scoping review. Heliyon, 9(4), e14889.

LaMorte, W. (2022, November 3). The social cognitive theory. Boston University School of Public Health.

Manjarres-Posada, N. I., Onofre-Rodríguez, D. J., & Benavides-Torres, R. A. (2020). Social Cognitive Theory and Health Care: Analysis and Evaluation. International Journal of Social Science Studies, 8(4), 132.

Murdaugh, C. L., Parsons, M. A., & Pender, N. J. (2019). Health Promotion in Nursing Practice. In Google Books. Pearson.


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Choose one of the models listed to promote health behavior:

Health Belief Model

Theory of Planned Behavior

Social Cognitive Theory- ***My Topic of Choice***

Describe the basic tenets of your chosen model.

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.

Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory

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?

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