They are also able to live and engage in a variety of social environments such as nomadic systems, diverse religious beliefs, different socio economic and socio cultural activities and so on. People also exhibit a variety of unique capabilities that cannot be attributed to the occurrence of evolution over time (Bandura, 1971). In fact, the list of human beings unique capabilities relative to animals cannot be exhausted in a single book. Hence, in order to perform an analysis of psychological functioning, one must specify the psychological mechanisms that facilitate the unique capabilities.
Banduras (1986) theory has a focal point on the cognitive methods that enable people to learn about the world around them (environment) and also about themselves, and use the knowledge gained to control their behavior and mental experiences. In particular, Bandura (1986) enlisted five basic capabilities that facilitate the learning process, as described below. Symbolizing capability implies the ability of people to represent their knowledge symbolically. The most common symbolic representation or conveyance of messages is language (Bandura, 1971).
The ability to use symbols in terms of language is perhaps the most fundamental capability in human beings as it serves as a leeway for the other capabilities. Vicarious capability is the ability to acquire skills, knowledge and other emotional tendencies through observation or a similar approach (Bandura, 1971). Banduras (2006) assiduous analysis of vicarious processes that are involved in acquiring skills makes the cognitive theory not only realistic but also unusually easy to comprehend and interpret.
In addition, it clears most of the issues that are usually overlooked by psychological theories such how people acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to act efficiently. According to Bandura (1997), vicarious capability enables people to keep away from risky or costly undertakings that could lead to fatal outcomes. This is because the people ideally have a sense of experience by observing their own characters relative to the characters or behavior of others.
Bandura (1986) referred to the ability to anticipate future contingencies as the forethought capability of human beings. Forethought capability is vital for both emotional and motivational perspectives of life. For instance, contrary to popular belief, psychological distress arises from peoples anticipated dreadful experiences and not the present or actual experiences. It is because of the ability to derive alternative approaches that one can foresee the consequences of an action without actually being involved in it.
According to Bandura (1986), the fourth unique human capability is the self-regulatory capability. This is the capacity of an individual to set goals. In addition, this capability allows individuals to evaluate their performance in relation to their own (internal) standards of performance. Bandura (1986) further noted that the ability of people to evaluate their self-concept, esteem and values enables them have a sense of self-direction and ability to lead life without much reliance on others.
Much similar to the above capability is the self-reflective capability. According to Bandura (1997), this is the capacity of human beings to have personal thoughts. In this context, personal reflections lay a course for action and formulation of ideas by individuals based on self-efficacy. The aforementioned capabilities do not work in isolation but in concert. In particular, according to Bandura (1997), the aspects of self-reflection, self-regulation and forethought act in synergy to form a self-system, which comprises the framework of personality.
Furthermore, people are able to control their emotions and social lives by integrating the constituents of the self-system (Bandura, 1986). Self-reflection in particular is distinctly human and forms a prominent feature of the social cognitive theory. Through self-reflection, individuals derive sense from their experiences and embrace their cognitions and self-beliefs. Consequently, they are able to engage in self-evaluation and are able to shift their thinking and behavior accordingly (Bandura, 1986).