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The theory is also arguably one of the most tested contemporary theories of crime and deviance and has undergone considerable elaboration and testing since the 1970s.
Primary associations include those with immediate family and friends.
Secondary sources of social learning include a much wider range of people and would include, for example, teachers, neighbours, and church groups.
Each of these groups is thought to contribute to the attitudes and values an individual adopts, as well as to how that person behaves in various social contexts.
The development of social learning theory can be traced back to the work of Robert L. Akers in 1966, as presented in their work entitled “A differential association-reinforcement theory of criminal behaviour” This work combined the earlier sociological theory of differential association with the developmental psychological theory of reinforcement.
This area of study became part of mainstream criminology with the publication of Ronald L.