“High speed car chase with a white Ford Fusion. Self inflicted gun shot wound.”
That sentence is what started the day that I connected social cognitive theory to the most – both personally and professionally.
April 18, 2017 began as any normal day at JET 24. However, it quickly changed when a high speed chase with a white Ford Fusion, which ended with a self-inflicted gun shot wound, came across the police scanner. However, we all remained calmed, adrenaline pumping – absolutely – but as calm as we could be. A reporter headed to the scene. The rest of us began posting on social media. TV news is dying in the sense that people don’t watch it on TV anymore. Everyone watches on their phones now. Facebook Live was our go-to for everything that day. The irony in that story was unbelievable – a case that started on Facebook, ended on Facebook. However, that day all of us reporters used a large amount of cognitive control to develop our new course of action, reassessed the day, and then prioritized the stories for the order of the show based on what we thought people would be most interested in first.
Steve Stephens was not a good man, but he was good in the sense that he helped to increase my self-efficacy by adding to my confidence in my career. I feel more confident in handling big breaking news, chasing down the story, talking to hundreds of people and pulling myself together to go on air at 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. This is just like the first source of self-efficacy discussed in the reading “Self-Efficacy.” “The most effective way of creating a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences.”
Also, along with social cognitive theory, the day Steve Stephens killed himself on Buffalo Road in Erie, PA helps to motivate me to get up and go to work everyday, like motivation process discussed in, “Self-Efficacy.” Days like that day are the reason reporters enter into the career field. Not because everyday is that exciting. Not because we wish people would commit murder or die. It’s because those are the days everyone flips on their TV, turns on their cell phones and relies on you to provided the latest, up-to-date, accurate information. Those are the days self worth and self reflection, also discussed in this week’s readings, are established. I laid in bed for the next several nights, even to this day, reflecting on that story. Not just the positives (helping my self-efficacy), but the questions, “How could I have made it better? How could I have do the story differently?” run through my head. Motivating me to make the next story, the next breaking news scenario even better.
“Perceived self-efficacy occupies a pivotal role in the social cognitive theory because it affects action not only directly, but through its impact on other classes of determinants as well.” stated in “Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective,” reading. That’s probably the quote that resonated the most with me throughout this week’s readings.
I think the less self-efficacy a person has, the more observational learning, also discussed in “Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective,” and “Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication,” people will do. The less people believe in themselves or what they’re doing, the more they’re going to turn to other people to watch, listen and mimic.
In fact, I think life begins with observational learning. From peek-a-boo with our parents, to having older siblings copying what they wear, how they talk, etc.
I think most careers begin with observational learning, also. I know mine – a reporter – does. Studies, surveys and focus groups have been done in the world of broadcast television to see how people react to certain stories and their attention spans to see how long stories should be. Therefore, that has set a standard in television news that “if it bleeds it leads,” and no story should be any longer than one minute, 15 seconds. However, there’s a million and one ways to create a story. Everyone asks different questions, writes in a different style and edits the video to the story in a different way. That’s where young reporters, like myself, watch the professionals on World News Tonight, Good Morning America, CNN, etc. We watch other professional’s styles and we incorporate those to create our own. Reporters appear to not only have a high level of self-efficacy, but actually need one. This is because everyday they put themselves in front of thousands of people and could possibly make a fool of themselves, but also because of their ability to stay calm when situations go awry or news breaks.
Everyday, reporters walk into work with no idea what is going on that day (not all the time, but most days), or any idea what could pop up. The word reaction would be our buzz word if we had one. Everyday we are forced to react to situations, whether it be breaking news, the people/person we need to interview for our story is unavailable, the weather doesn’t corporate and an event gets cancelled, etc., etc., etc. This concept discussed in “Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective,” much like the Steve Stephens day.
So how do I related social cognitive theory and self-efficacy in my personal life? The best example I can give is a topic that has recently become a big part of my life.
Self-efficacy is also a major role in the fitness world. Many people walk into a gym and are intimidated,. They do not know how to work machines, they do not know what certain things are or how to use them. So maybe they just go to the treadmill because they’ve used those before or at least seen people use them (observational learning). I feel that’s how everyone starts out. However, through watching others use machines or weights, people may pick up on a few new exercises to try or tips and then start to feel more comfortable at the gym.
This was me when I first became interested in changing my lifestyle. However, I hired a personal trainer to teach me new things. Then I hired a coach to map out all my workouts for me. I took what I was taught and ran (no pun intended) with it.
Also, the use of technology has helped me tremendously when it comes to working out. YouTube makes it like everyone has a personal trainer in their pocket. Now I’m much more comfortable in the gym. I have a good idea about what I’m doing, alternatives if something goes wrong and an overall good sense of knowledge and self-efficacy.
However, this sense of comfortably takes a long time to get to and a lot of hard work. I started at one of the end of the spectrum and am no where near the other end, just inching toward it slowly. This motivates me to go to the gym more. When people are intimidated or do not feel like they know what they’re doing (low self-efficacy), they less willing or excited to go and do something. It’s a domino affect in this scenario. The more you know what you’re doing at the gym … the more motivation you have to go to the gym, … the more you actually go to the gym … the more results you see. This in turn motivates you even more to continue to workout because it appears it’s working – again, resulting in higher self-efficacy. The motivation effects, discussed in the “Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication” and “Self-Efficacy,” readings, in the social cognitive theory are the driving force behind making big life changes, especially physically. This also resembles the cognitive process also mentioned in “Self-Efficacy.” “The stronger the perceived self-efficacy, the higher the goal challenges people set for themselves and the firmer is their commitment to them.”
Josh’s experiment in the documentary of the pods I think is exactly what the internet is now. One of the women in the video said, “There was a real sense of freedom even though you’re also chained by the concept of being watch.” I think people feel they are free to say and do whatever they want on social media, hiding behind the keyboard. I do think the concerns of the internet have been realized, but I do not think people will change or care. However, I think most people almost consider it like a virtual reality, not real life. That’s the way people in the pods started to feel – “detached” from themselves. I think the people who loved being watched in the experiment are like people today who love to have thousands of followers and post obsessively on social media sites. “Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame,” quoted in the documentary. I think that’s true when it comes to the internet. However, I do not find this to be true when it comes to my job. I always joke the camera attracts the crazies or is like the black plague – more often like the plague and clears out a room quickly.
The fact this was the first “reality” TV show makes me feel differently about reality tv shows. I never thought about reality TV shows in the way it’s put in the title “living in public.” I think the “Real World” emulated this concept. However, I also think when Josh put the cameras in his home, it was almost like Facebook Live now – being able to watch something in real time and interact directly with those in front of the lens.
Josh I think is the social cognitive theory in real-life form. He literally put people in one room and observed their social interactions and experiences. Outside of that, he created an opportunity for the outside world to observe this group of people’s social interactions and behaviors. Josh’s self-efficacy was at an all-time high, I think, throughout the experiment in the bunker and when his relationship was going well in his own “Living In Public” world. But once the cops raided the bunker, and the relationship went south, Josh went through a depression. His self-efficacy crashed, hitting a low and not knowing what to do with himself. So what do most normal people do? Go to Ethiopia. Okay, maybe not. But Josh did. I think most people when they hit that low self-efficacy have a motivational process and try and find something or somewhere else to go to get their life back on track.
However, I will never look at Gilligan’s Island, or clowns (not that I liked them before) the same.