Methods of Studying Human Behavior

Topics: Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Behaviorism Pages: 5 (1747 words) Published: June 12, 2012
Methods Of Studying Human Behavior

There are several methods used to study human behavior including Naturalistic Observation, Correlational Research, Experimental Method, Case Study, and the Survey Method, each uses a different type of approach. If I were to do a study on the relationship between alcohol and violence, the method I would use would be the survey research method. (Stangor, 2010) I would use this method because it would not be intrusive, require any possible harm to anyone, and has minimal ethical concerns.

The Survey Research Method is a type of Descriptive Research Design that uses written questionnaires, and interviews to collect data. The people participating in the study are referred to as the Sample, and the group of people the study is wanting to learn about is referred to as the Population. (Stangor, 2010) In order for this method of research to get accurate results, the target population needs to be similar. For instance, gender, among college students, juveniles, where a fatality occurred, or in domestic violence situations. The approach would be the same no matter what population you were focusing the study on and the results would only determine data for that target.

If I were to do a study on domestic violence related to alcohol, the drawbacks could be some people involved in domestic abuse do not report the incident, therefore it could yield lower results. In some states the law may not require a mandatory arrest in domestic violence incidents resulting in lower arrest rates than a state that did. The investigation by the police could play a role as well. If a person was arrested, did they get a blood alcohol level, if they did not that could affect results as well.

The ethical concerns that need to be considered in this method of study are minimal compared to other methods. There is no need to ask paricipants to consume alcohol for the study and no one will endure any harm. The data comes from previous experiences and does not need to be observed to collect data. One ethical concern could be humiliation or embarrasment for the victim of the abuse when asked questions about it. In which the victim can choose not to participate if they feel uncomfortable talking about it. Positive & Negative Reinforcement

B.F. Skinner (1904 -1990) was the influential behavioral psychologist that developed the term reinforcer to explain the processes of operant conditioning. “Operant conditioning is the learning that occurs based on the consequences of behavior.” ( Stangor, 2010, p. 203) Reinforcer is defined as, “any event that strengthens or increases the likelihood of a behavior.” (Stangor, 2010, p. 204) Positive reinforcement is, “The strengthening of a response by presenting a typically pleasurable stimulus after the response.” (Stangor, 2010, p.204) In simple terms, to add something desirable in order to increase the desired behavior. A good example of positive reinforcement would be to give someone praise. Receiving praise is likely to motivate you to repeat the behavior. Negative reinforcement is, “The strengthening of a response by removing a typically unpleasant stimulus after the response.” (Stangor, 2010, p.204) Simply stated, removing something negative to increase a desired response. Negative reinforcement can be confusing at first and mixed up with negative punishment. Negative punishment involves taking something desired away to reduce the behavior from repeating. (Stangor, 2010) For example, if you spank a child for climbing the furniture the spanking will be less harmful than if he was to fall off the furniture and break an arm. If you explain to the child why it is wrong and why he was spanked that is negative reinforcement. If no explanation is given to the child it becomes a punishment because without the explanation you are not you are not removing anything. If the...

References: Stangor, C. (2010). Introduction to Psychology. Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
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