All three types of learning are part of behaviourism and look at measurable behaviour, rather than on cognitive and biological processes. Classical conditioning was the first learning theory, introduces in the 1900s followed by operant conditioning in the 1940s and the social learning theory after that.
Classical conditioning examines how a response is associated with a stimulus to cause conditioning looking at reflex / involuntary ...view middle of the document...
Social learning theory accepts the role of reinforcement and rewards, and so incorporates operant conditioning within its theory.
All three theories use controlled lab experiments with careful controls and manipulation of the independent variable. This is because they all investigate observable behaviour, which can be tested experimentally. Classical and operant conditioning use animals where as the social learning theory uses humans as role models and subjects.
Operant conditioning has been used in therapy – for example token economy – and classical conditioning in aversion therapy where an undesirable behaviour is removed by associating it with an aversive stimulus. Therefore both kinds of conditioning have practical applications and are useful. Social learning theory is also useful – it has helped to highlight the need to take care over role models in society because they are likely to be imitated – particularly by children. Classical conditioning is perhaps the least useful theory because it only deals with reflexes where as the other two deal with deliberate behaviour that needs to be controlled.