Social cognitive theory: Thinking and learning in social settings

Dario Torre*, Steven J. Durning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This chapter describes selected social cognitive theories (SCTs) that are applied to healthcare profession education today. It begins with the historical development and theoretical foundations of this family of theories. Next, the chapter discusses three different theoretical lenses that fall within the family of SCTs: situated cognition, distributed cognition and situated learning. It then provides some of the applications of these theories. It highlights the key historical developments of SCTs. The components of social cognitive theory serve as a catalyst for a number of potential applications in healthcare profession education. Being familiar with the features of SCT can help educators and their learners gain a better understanding of how to think, teach and learn in a complex environment. Future research may focus on deepening the understanding of what and how socio-cultural factors play a role in the cognitive processes that affect learning, teaching and performance in the healthcare profession.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Medical Education
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781118838983
ISBN (Print)9781118839201
StatePublished - 24 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive apprenticeship
  • Distributed cognition
  • Healthcare profession education
  • Situated cognition theory
  • Situated learning
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Social settings


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