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Creamos que se trataba de un decidido esfuerzo por instaurar el significado como el
concepto fundamental de la psicologa; no los estmulos y las respuestas, ni la conducta
abiertamente observable, ni los impulsos biolgicos y su transformacin, sino el significado. No era una revolucin contra el conductismo, animada por el propsito de transformarlo en una versin ms adecuada que permitiese proseguir con la psicologa
aadindole un poco de mentalismo. Edward Tolman ya lo haba hecho, con escasos
resultados. Era una revolucin mucho ms profunda que todo eso. Su meta era descubrir
y describir formalmente los significados que los seres humanos creaban a partir de sus
encuentros con el mundo, para luego proponer hiptesis acerca de los procesos de construccin de significado en que se basaba. Se centraba en las actividades simblicas
empleadas por los seres humanos para construir y dar sentido no slo al mundo sino
tambin a ellos mismos.
(Bruner, 1995; p. 20)

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La teora cognitiva social defiende un concepto de interaccin basado en una reciprocidad tridica (...). Segn este modelo de determinismo recproco, (...) la conducta, los factores cognitivos y dems factores personales y las influencias ambientales operan de
forma interactiva como determinantes recprocos. En este determinismo recproco tridico, el trmino recproco hace referencia a la accin mutua desarrollada entre los factores causales.
(Bandura, 1986; p. 44)

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Albert Bandura (1925)


Albert Bandura naci en Alberta, Canad, el 12 de Diciembre de
1925, en el seno de una familia de origen ucraniano. En 1949 se
licenci en psicologa por la Universidad de British Columbia
(Vancouver), tras lo cual inici sus estudios de doctorado en la
Universidad de Iowa. La presencia, en el Departamento de
Psicologa, de Kenneth Spence, y la enorme admiracin que ste
senta por Clark Hull, hicieron que los trabajos all desarrollados
se vieran fuertemente influidos por las investigaciones sobre
aprendizaje que se estaban realizando por aquella poca en la Universidad de Yale. De
ah que durante su perodo de formacin como psiclogo clnico en esta universidad,
Bandura se familiarizara con las teoras conductistas y con los trabajos sobre el aprendizaje por imitacin que haban realizado Miller y Dollard (1941). Sin embargo, y a
pesar de los intentos de Spence de introducir el neoconductismo de Hull en la
Universidad de Iowa, la concepcin del aprendizaje como el resultado de estmulos y
respuestas le pareci excesivamente simplista.
En 1953, un ao despus de obtener el grado de doctor, Bandura comenz a
impartir docencia en la Universidad de Stanford. Cuando lleg a esta universidad, el
director del Departamento de Psicologa era Robert Sears, quien ejerci en l una
notable influencia. Alejado ya totalmente de los rgidos planteamientos de la teora del
aprendizaje de Hull, Bandura inici en la Universidad de Stanford una importante
lnea de investigacin sobre el aprendizaje por imitacin. En colaboracin con
Richard Walters, su primer estudiante de doctorado, realiz una serie de experimentos en los que mostrara cmo los nios pueden aprender imitando modelos sin necesidad de que se les haya dado ningn tipo de refuerzo. Con ello, se ponan en cuestin algunas de las conclusiones a las que se haba llegado previamente en la
Universidad de Yale. La colaboracin con Walters, interrumpida por la prematura
muerte de ste, dio lugar a dos importantes libros: Adolescent Agression (1959) y Social
Learning and Personality Development (1963).
Estos estudios fueron la base para su teora del aprendizaje social, fundada en
el supuesto de que aprendemos mediante la observacin. Los refuerzos pueden influir
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en la ejecucin de lo aprendido, pero no en la adquisicin del modelo de conducta.


Esta diferencia entre aprendizaje y ejecucin de la conducta lo separa de los postulados netamente conductistas y lo acercan a los intereses de los cognitivistas. El inters
de Bandura por los procesos cognitivos involucrados en el aprendizaje social se refleja en la importancia que otorga a la actividad simblica mediante la cual se da sentido al medio y se determina qu es un estmulo y qu no; en el nfasis puesto en las
expectativas que sostenemos acerca de las consecuencias de nuestros actos; y en sus
ideas acerca de la autorregulacin en donde operaciones mentales como el registro, la
comparacin y el autoconcepto cumplen un papel fundamental. Bandura complejiza
la frmula conductista estmulo-respuesta, gracias a que reconoce que nada en el
ambiente es un estmulo si antes no ha sido simbolizado y ha adquirido sentido para
la persona. Esto le permite entender que la respuesta a un estmulo no es una simple
reaccin del organismo, sino el resultado de un complejo procesamiento de informacin. Su teora de la autoeficacia, que supone que las personas son capaces de regular
sus acciones a partir de los juicios que hacen sobre sus propias capacidades, tambin
est relacionada con la inclusin de la dimensin simblica en la explicacin de la
conducta.
Las ideas de Bandura tambin han tenido aplicacin en el campo de la clnica, especialmente en el tratamiento de fobias. El mismo sistema de aprendizaje por
imitacin -o modelado- mediante el que investig la adquisicin de conductas agresivas en nios, ha servido para que pacientes con fobias aprendan conductas que eliminan el temor. Observando a un actor que lentamente se va acercando al objeto de la
fobia, el paciente aprende por imitacin y es capaz de repetir las acciones que ha visto,
superando su temor inicial.
Albert Bandura, que continua actualmente en la Universidad de Stanford, ha
recibido a lo largo de su carrera numerosos reconocimientos, entre los que destacan el
Galardn de la Asociacin de Psicologa Americana a la Contribucin Cientfica, en
1980, o el Lifetime Achievement from the Association for the Avancement of Behavior
Therapy, en 2001. Asimismo, Bandura ha sido nombrado doctor honoris causa por 12
universidades entre las que se cuentan la de Salamanca y la Jaume I de Castelln.
Entre las principales obras de A. Bandura destacan Teora del Aprendizaje Social
(1971), Pensamiento y Accin. Fundamentos Sociales (1986) y Autoeficacia: Cmo
Afrontamos los Cambios de la Sociedad Actual (1995).
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