社会学习理论是一种试图解释社会化及其对自我发展的影响的理论。有许多不同的理论可以解释人们如何变得社会化，包括精神分析理论，功能主义，冲突理论和象征互动理论。与其他人一样，社会学习理论着眼于个体学习过程，自我形成以及社会对个体社会化的影响。社会学习理论认为一个人的身份的形成是对社会刺激的学习反应。它强调社会化的社会背景而不是个人的思想。该理论假定个体的身份不是无意识的产物（例如精神分析理论家的信仰），而是自我模仿以回应他人的期望的结果。行为和态度的发展是为了响应我们周围人的强化和鼓励。虽然社会学习理论家承认童年经历很重要，但他们也认为人们获得的身份更多地是由他人的行为和态度所形成的。社会学习理论源于心理学，并受到心理学家阿尔伯特班杜拉的极大影响。社会学家最常使用社会学习理论来理解犯罪和偏差。根据社会学习理论，人们因与犯罪其他人的关系而从事犯罪活动。他们的犯罪行为得到加强，他们学会了有利于犯罪的信仰。他们基本上拥有与之相关的犯罪模式。因此，这些人将犯罪看作是可取的，或者在某些情况下至少是合理的。学习犯罪行为或越轨行为与学习遵守行为是一样的：它是通过与他人联系或接触来完成的。事实上，与欠款朋友的关联是除了之前的违法行为之外的违法行为的最佳预测因素。社会学习理论假设个人学习参与犯罪有三种机制：差异强化，信仰和建模。差别加强犯罪。对犯罪进行差别强化意味着个人可以通过强化和惩罚某些行为来教导他人从事犯罪活动。犯罪更有可能发生在1.经常加强和不经常惩罚; 2.导致大量强化（如金钱，社会认可或愉悦）和少量惩罚; 3.比其他行为更有可能得到加强。研究表明，因犯罪而得到加强的个人更有可能参与随后的犯罪活动，特别是当他们处于类似于之前被强化的情况时。信仰有利于犯罪。除了加强犯罪行为之外，其他人也可以教导一个有利于犯罪的人的信仰。对犯罪分子的调查和采访表明，有利于犯罪的信仰分为三类。首先是批准某些轻微形式的犯罪，例如赌博，“软”吸毒，以及青少年，酒精使用和宵禁违规。第二是批准或证明某些形式的犯罪，包括一些严重犯罪。这些人认为犯罪通常是错误的，但某些犯罪行为在某些情况下是合理的，甚至是可取的。例如，很多人会说战斗是错误的，但如果个人遭到侮辱或挑衅则是合理的。第三，有些人持有某些更有利于犯罪的一般价值观，并使犯罪成为对其他行为更具吸引力的替代方案。例如，那些渴望兴奋或兴奋的人，那些蔑视辛勤工作和渴望快速轻松成功的人，或者那些希望被视为“强硬”或“男子气概”的人，可能会看到比其他人更有利的光。模仿犯罪模式。行为不仅是个人所接受的信仰，增援或惩罚的产物。它也是我们周围人的行为的产物。个人经常模仿或模仿他人的行为，特别是如果是个人仰望或钦佩的人。例如，一个目击他们所尊重的人犯罪的人，然后因犯罪而得到加强，则更有可能自己犯罪。
Social learning theory is a theory that attempts to explain socialization and its effect on the development of the self. There are many different theories that explain how people become socialized, including psychoanalytic theory, functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interaction theory. Social learning theory, like these others, looks at the individual learning process, the formation of self, and the influence of society in socializing individuals. Social learning theory considers the formation of one’s identity to be a learned response to social stimuli. It emphasizes the societal context of socialization rather than the individual mind. This theory postulates that an individual’s identity is not the product of the unconscious (such as the belief of psychoanalytic theorists), but instead is the result of modeling oneself in response to the expectations of others. Behaviors and attitudes develop in response to reinforcement and encouragement from the people around us. While social learning theorists acknowledge that childhood experience is important, they also believe that the identity people acquire is formed more by the behaviors and attitudes of others. Social learning theory has its roots in psychology and was shaped greatly by psychologist Albert Bandura. Sociologists most often use social learning theory to understand crime and deviance. According to social learning theory, people engage in crime because of their association with others who engage in crime. Their criminal behavior is reinforced and they learn beliefs that are favorable to crime. They essentially have criminal models that they associate with. As a consequence, these individuals come to view crime as something that is desirable, or at least justifiable in certain situations. Learning criminal or deviant behavior is the same as learning to engage in conforming behavior: it is done through association with or exposure to others. In fact, association with delinquent friends is the best predictor of delinquent behavior other than prior delinquency. Social learning theory postulates that there are three mechanisms by which individuals learn to engage in crime: differential reinforcement, beliefs, and modeling. Differential reinforcement of crime. Differential reinforcement of crime means that individuals can teach others to engage in crime by reinforcing and punishing certain behaviors. Crime is more likely to occur when it 1. Is frequently reinforced and infrequently punished; 2. Results in large amounts of reinforcement (such as money, social approval, or pleasure) and little punishment; and 3. Is more likely to be reinforced than alternative behaviors. Studies show that individuals who are reinforced for their crime are more likely to engage in subsequent crime, especially when they are in situations similar to those that were previously reinforced. Beliefs favorable to crime. On top of reinforcing criminal behavior, other individuals can also teach a person beliefs that are favorable to crime. Surveys and interviews with criminals suggest that beliefs favoring crime fall into three categories. First is the approval of certain minor forms of crime, such as gambling, “soft” drug use, and for adolescents, alcohol use and curfew violation. Second is the approval of or justification of certain forms of crime, including some serious crimes. These people believe that crime is generally wrong, but that some criminal acts are justifiable or even desirable in certain situations. For example, many people will say that fighting is wrong, however, that it is justified if the individual has been insulted or provoked. Third, some people hold certain general values that are more conducive to crime and make crime appear as a more attractive alternative to other behaviors. For example, individuals who have a large desire for excitement or thrills, those who have a disdain for hard work and a desire for quick and easy success, or those who wish to be seen as “tough” or “macho” might view crime in a more favorable light than others. The imitation of criminal models. Behavior is not only a product of beliefs and reinforcements or punishments that individuals receive. It is also a product of the behavior of those around us. Individuals often model or imitate the behavior of others, especially if it is someone that individual looks up to or admires. For example, an individual who witnesses someone they respect committing a crime, who is then reinforced for that crime, is then more likely to commit a crime themselves.