Cognitive psychology comprises several approaches regarding how consciousness in the human mind operates. Researching its structure, maps were devised to improve therapeutic applications where they looked for principles that might be common to all cognitive processes, rather than the variations found within individual human personalities.

Albert Bandura is a Canadian-American psychologist whose work affected the transition of dominance from behaviorism to cognitive psychology while at Stanford University. His social learning theory, later renamed social cognitive theory, and his research and theoretical constructs of self-efficacy and aggression were among his greatest accomplishments. He is the most cited living psychologist.

Bandura’s Bobo doll experiment on aggression in 1961 showed that similar behaviors were learned by young people who were influenced by the acts of adults who were then either praised or punished in front of them, demonstrating the concepts behind observational learning. Further research showed that modeling alleviated phobic disorders via highlighting their own capabilities to alleviating them. From the late 1970s onward he has explored the role of self-efficacy in human functioning.

Aaron Beck came to believe that uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms combine with automatic thoughts with cognitive distortions generating painful, repeating cycles that maintain and heighten the symptoms, at times resulting in emotional disorders. The source and solution to emotional problems are seen as being within one’s own common-sense capabilities of awareness and cognition stemming from the self-healing capacities of human beings. Positive, short-term, therapeutic outcomes evolved from his cognitive-behavioral therapy. Albert Ellis’ subsequent rational-emotive therapy claims that irrational beliefs cause emotional suffering and consequently, behavioral problems. Rational arguments are used to reveal and transform the irrational beliefs that maintain or amplify harmful emotions and behavior.


  • Understanding the distinctive contributions and values of Albert Bandura and Social Cognitive Psychology & Aaron Beck and Cognitive Therapy on transpersonal psychology
  • Critically examine the foundations of Albert Bandura and Social Cognitive Psychology & Aaron Beck and Cognitive Therapy and their implications for transpersonal psychology.


Ch. 9 “Albert Bandura and Social Cognitive Psychology & Aaron Beck and Cognitive Therapy” in Personality and Personal Growth (7th Ed.)


Bandura and Beck’s work had lines of thought that have echoes in conscious parenting and Buddhist thought training respectively. Bandura’s modeling is echoed in a major aspect of conscious parenting where the adult’s behavior matters as much as the child’s. That said, his work is not directly transpersonally-oriented—for example, Bandura defines the self as the cognitive processes and structures we use rather than something metaphysically deeper.

There is a straight line of influence between Beck’s work, cognitive-behavioral therapy, its popularization by David Burns in 1980 and the rise of the popularity of Buddhism in America. While there are important differences, the methods of the observation of thoughts and results of it attracted many kinds of people across society. Beck picked up George Kelly’s notion of person-as-scientist, the idea that laypeople develop and test their own hypotheses about the world around them naturally to our individual and collective benefit. What works for us? What doesn’t? Within the idea is implied that traditional societies across time employed this proto-scientific method such that traditional forms of psycho-spiritual and physical health treatments deserve more respect and close examination—a key transpersonal psychological tenant.

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