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Assyrians Online Making Use of Psychology's "Observational Learning"
By: Ashur Sada. September. 15, 2007

They say 'Monkeis see, Monkies do'  In other words, seeing someone else doing something, you tend to imitate it and pick it up too. Whether it is done consciously or not, is another question. What matters here is that when we observe someone else, we learn from them.  This way of learning, "Observational Learning" (OL), is one of three popular methods which psychologists identify as ways that humans use to learn. Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia defines it as "learning that occurs as a function of observing, retaining and replicating behavior observed in others..."(1) Thanks heaven for Observational Learning (also referred to sometimes as Social Learning), as Assyrians have made a good use of it, knowingly or unknowingly, for over 10 years now.  How so? and why is this significant? it is significant for two reasons: a good one and a bad one.  The internet has become an unavoidable tool, for good or for bad, and Assyrians have largely used it to raise a new generation of caring Assyrians, although some exceptions exist

The Negative Influence

MySpace. Facebook. MSN. and the list goes on. Are these tools of a good or bad influence? depends on who you ask. In essence, they are great tools for social interactions. But depending on what is in there, some Assyrians may observe what gets posted there, and try to imitate it.  Those who are into the Rap culture for example, may see people posing for a picture in a Myspace page.  Next time they take a picture, they will try to pose in the same setting.  Posing in a certain way doesn't make you bad in any way, but it is part of the subconscious effect of Observational Learning.  And as you wander the internet and keep checking the same social networks, you will keep on picking up some habits which are not the best for your social development or as a person.  Of course, the hidden influence can also come from watching TV, and seeing what your favorite role model does. But for our purpose, we are more concerned with the influence of the internet.  In the long term, the sum effect of this observational learning will help shape your personality

The Good Influence

It is amazing how every Assyrian event draws new crowds, especially from the younger generation. And this same crowd happens to be the same ones we see one Assyrian Voice and other sites. But if you were to go back in time, you wouldn't see the same people in these places, although they were very active online. What happened here? the difference can be explained by examining the effect of 'Observational Learning.'  This new interested crowd in Assyrian events, politics and activities, has been observing others who happen to be interested in such things.  They have also been seeing all the flyers and announcements for such events. In the long term, they can't help but to be part of it too.  And once they start going, it is the hope that they won't stop. This is Observational Learning at its best: where the behavior is observed, picked, and imitated. And on some occasions, performed better than the person or people performing it originally.  And in an effort to ensure that good behavior is being observed and learnt, Assyrian Voice and other Assyrian sites are to make sure that the content on the site is educational and beneficial for the Assyrian issues, people and nation as a whole.  Recently, one of our Assyrian Voice members made a trip to Northern Iraq, in which she was part of the April 1st celebrations.  Not too long after, many more made this trip, and now many more would like to do it as well.  You can bet that reading about the trip and seeing all the pictures, inspired others to go as well.  Online observation, as you can see, is leading to inspiration too.

The Good will Prevail

At the end of the day, it is the hope that the good will prevail.  That is, the good content that is observed and learnt will outweigh the bad.  As people who frequent Assyrian sites, we have to be careful with what we post, reply to, and the impression we leave. It is safe to say that hundreds of other Assyrians observe the traces we leave. And as they see more and more of the good stuff, or maybe the bad stuff, they will subconsciously pick on it and learn it.  Again, every word, sentence, post, action, pictures that we leave behind, could have a lasting impression on someone else.  That lasting impression is also what others observe and learn from.  So next time you read something or post something online, think about the lasting impression it will leave for others. If in doubt, reach with your hands to the screen, and wipe it off. Replace it with something that you know will benefit anyone that will observe it, knowingly or unknowingly.  Observational Learning, if practiced well and appreciated, could spell some wonders for our future and many generations to come.  Let us observe what the educated and mature in our society do, and blind ourselves from seeing what the uneducated and immature have to offer.




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