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Science is systematic study to create models of reality- Discuss this statement with respect to behavioural science
This essay will focus on certain aspects of Behavioural Science as a systematic study which creates models of reality. Behavioural Science has long since been a cause of argument for many academics, this essay works to delve into the history of science as a whole and discover how Behavioural Science methods has contributed and continues to contribute important and relevant studies of everyday life (Kraus, 2013).
The specific subjects explored in this essay are, the History of Science, the Methodology of Behavioural Science, Perception and Personality are all elements which have contributed to our models of reality.
Behavioural science is a relatively new branch of science although “people have always been curious about behaviour” (Coon & O’Mitterer, 2010). Behavioural science uses scientific methodology in order to produce public scientific records that are applicable to the real world. (Mac Donagh, Linehan, & Weldridge , 2002) People have constantly questioned their surrounding environments and human behaviours e.
g why people act a certain way?. “The value of philosophy of science for history of science is a timely but much neglected topic” (Arabatzis, 2017) Philosophy can be considered a stepping stone for science, as a time when people began to question the environment and surrounding bodies in which they lived amongst. (Arabatzis, 2017)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) the 19th-century naturalist held the view that behaviour was an integral part of evolution. (Theerman, 2015) Observation was a technique Darwin used in order to gain absolute knowledge when conducting research regarding the evolution of the world.
In 1859 Darwin’s theory of evolution his focus on bodily biology concluding that “our conscious minds, but also our perceived instincts, and even our unconscious thoughts and feelings” change due to the surrounding environment. “Evolutionary psychology is built on this”. (Theerman, 2015) Darwin’s deep and years of study led to the advancements in which is now known as behavioural science.
Before Darwin , the earliest tracings of scientific thought date back to ancient Greece during the 5th and 6th centuries. O’Grady (p.8 2001) Philosophers are defined as “someone who studies or writes about the meaning of life” according to (Press, 2018). Well known philosophers formed the “logical foundations of scientific thought” O’Grady (p.8-9 2001) thus aiding the way for today’s reality of science. Philosopher’s sheer curiosity challenged religious myths and superstitions which were used to explain questionable phenomenon. Until the “Scientific Revolution” took place in the 17th century there was a narrow reality regarding the understanding of the world in relation to its immediate shape.
Hippocrates (c.460-370 BC) is well known for his contribution to behavioural science. Hippocrates transferred the mythical understanding of reality to medicinal science, he also questioned the components of the human personality. He believed that personality was made up of 4 mechanisms which were blood, bile, black bile and phlegm. O’Grady (p2 2001) The mechanisms were known as “humours”, the predominant component found within each human classifies their personality type. A large amount of bile presented in a person indicated s person to be ill tempered, high blood was an optimistic, high phlegm shown no emotions and black bile was a depressed person. O’Grady( p2-3 2001) Noticing that his theory was considered a reality by people until the 17th century, thus indicating that people were open to understanding the meaning of personal behaviours. Hippocrates has clearly influenced science as it is today especially psychology, in his day he too inspired the people’s perception of human behaviour when offering logical explanations. Hippocrates strong beliefs about behaviour has led to the published studies that are conducted by behavioural science scientists today.
The scientific method plays a large part in Behavioural science today as without it it would be near impossible to interpret and understand the behaviour of humans. The scientific method can be defined as “a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses” (Oxford, 2018). The scientific method is also known as a form of critical thinking based around a precise collection of description and measurement, evidence, precise definition, controlled observation and repeatable results (Jackson, 2008). The scientific method has an ideological form consisting of six elements, such as, making observations / defining a hypothesis, collecting evidence, testing the hypotheses, publishing results and then forming a theory. When applying the scientific method to the study of behaviour it requires a very controlled and careful observation. Coon & O’Mitterer( p.19, 2010).
In a study by university of Arizona psychologist Mathias Mehl, observed results from prior publishing’s regarding the fact that many people believe that women are chattier than men, from his studying of these previous results he seemed to find that it did in fact support this stereotype.
However, he and his researchers did find that one of the studies had actually used a recording of men’s and women’s daily conversations over a lengthily period of time, within this they found their problem, which then helped then to define it. “how can we record natural conversations without bothering people and perhaps biasing our observations?”.
A hypothesis is essentially an educated guess, statement, or explanation, of an event or relationship. A hypothesis is a testable educated guess in relation to behaviour. There are multiple ways in which a hypothesis can be tested, which include controlled experiments, clinical and naturalistic. Behaviourists and psychologists review the findings they gather.
To gather the information of whether men talk less than women researches uses electronically activated recorder ( EAR ) to track people’s conversations for 30 seconds every 12.5 minutes, this way the subjects would not realise when they are being recorded as not to be biased, this way meant that they would act and speak normally and there will not be any biased results. The researchers used the recordings to keep track and count the number of words recorded every 30 seconds within the whole day, on average throughout the day women spoke 16,215 every day and men were behind with 15,699 words per day. Because this result is so close with only 516 words in the difference, it was then concluded that Mehl’s study of women speaking more than men cannot be proven with such little evidence available (Mehl et al., 2007).
All scientific findings must be publicly available, so they must publish their results. Thus, other scientist may use these findings in research of their own or wish to contradict these findings. If those are able to repeat this experiment, the results from the study then become more credible. Coon & O’Mitterer( p.20, 2010).
Over many thousands of years scientists have been observing and philosophizing human behaviour. The father of psychology Wilhelm Wundt set up a laboratory to study the conscious experience. He was testing what happens when we experience certain sensations and measured many stimuli such as sight and touch. Wundt used a form of testing called introspection to record his reactions to certain stimuli, for example the feelings he had felt. Over many years to come he started to study the likes of vision and time perception. By using systematic observation, he started to test and hypothesize results, kicking psychology off to a good start. Coon & O’Mitterer( p.22, 2010).
Perception plays a large roll in the models of reality of an individual. Perception can be defined as “the psychological process of actively selecting and organising stimulus information detected by the sensory organs so as to create conscious awareness” (O’Grady, 2001, p. 79). There is also a process interlinked with the idea of perception, which allows us to understand why and how we perceive certain things, and how it can be broken down into categories of reality. The perceptual process is important as it creates a systematic approach to how we process our senses into thoughts and expressions. “The Perceptual Process” consists of Sensation, Selection, Organisation and Interpretation.
“Before our brain can arrive at any conscious awareness of the outside world our senses have to respond to some aspects of this world” (O’Grady, 2001, p. 77).
Sensation is when stimuli, physical energies that can excite a sense organ and can produce an effect in the organ, are received by our senses (Basini, n.d). Our senses include sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. O’Grady (2001, p. 77), also talks about how each of the sense organs, such as eyes and ears, respond to specific stimuli therefore it involves physical responses of the sense organ tissues to the appropriate stimuli to act and perceive the world accurately.
The three major sensory systems (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) dictate significant functions that will have an impact on an individual’s behaviour, the significance is dependent upon how external information is gathered, constructed and organized to fit our models of the world and reality. (Alenka Brown-Van Hoozer, 1999).
Our brain is flooded with hundreds of stimuli at a given moment and as humans we are unable to process every piece of information that our senses pick up. Our brain uses the process of selection to carefully select what it thinks is the most relevant and necessary stimuli to help us create our models of reality. While we are passive recipients of sensations, we are active creators of perceptions, it involves us making our own personal sense or interpretation of the sensory information detected by our sense organs, which will then create the way we see reality. (O’Grady, 2001, p. 79).
O’Grady (2001, p. 77) says that the process of select is not only governed by the stimuli within our environment, objective factors, but also by subjective factors which are “those that depend on the evaluation of the stimulus by the person’s involvement”.
Objective stimuli include more physical stimuli, such as loudness, brightness, colour and movement. O’Grady (2001, p. 85) states that, “They are noticed if they occur in sufficient contrast to the background stimuli already there”. These changes in stimuli makes us look and process the world in a different way and creates our models of reality.
Subjective stimuli include, knowledge, personality, interests, needs and intelligence. Subjective factors shape how we see the world through our past experiences and our knowledge of a situation. O’Grady (2001, p. 83) Asks if you were on a walk in the jungle with a native, which of you would notice the camouflaged snake against the tree? It’s not that the native has better vision than you but without the knowledge and experiences, you will be unlikely to select the relevant stimuli. Everyone comes away with a different picture of an experience which depends on what we select, mostly varies on the subjective factors. Selection causes us all to create a different version of the world.
Organisation can be described as “the quality of being systematic and efficient” (Oxford Dictionary, n.d.). This definition makes perfect sense when linking it to the perception process as it is where the stimuli we take in is organised into systematic categories (Basini, n.d). Our senses communicate with the brain in order to begin to make sense of what we have experienced and start to categorise it. This happens because the information we perceive through our senses does not immediately mean something to us, instead the information is transported from the senses to the brain where the true meaning of the experience is extracted (O’Grady, 2001). This process is vital as it allows us to make sense of all aspects of our world.
However, organisation can also create errors in judgements as we may categorise an individual incorrectly, this is known as social categorising. A common term associated with social categorising is “stereotyping”, stereotyping is choosing to group a minority together based on assumptions. Sometimes this can cause offence as the individual could be categorised based on looks rather than personality trait. (Malabrigo MBA, n.d)
Interpretation is where we apply meaning to what we have previously organised using mental structures called schemata (Creative Commons, 2012). Schemata is where we store useful information that can help us interpret new experiences and build on existing knowledge. It is also important to be conscious of how our interpretations can affect our behaviour, much like stereotyping, if we presume someone cannot perform a task based on their behaviour we may avoid giving up the responsibility. Interpretation schemata also helps us decide how we will act in certain environments, how a person may act in a nightclub may be very different to their behaviour in a public waiting room. This is because we have learned this from watching others behave and have built a personalised schema for most situations. (Creative Commons, 2012)
Humanity would not function without some sort of process to enable how we see, feel, smell, touch or taste things. The perceptual process is a fine example of how behavioural science can be expressed in everyday life and stands amongst its scientific peers as a highly intelligent, learned study of reality.
Another factor that certainly influences models of reality is personality. Personality can be defined as “the total pattern of characteristic ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that constitute the person’s distinctive method of relating to the environment” (Kagan & Havemann, 1976, p. 376). Personality can be influenced by how an individual interacts and relates with their environment and this is a process that allows us as individuals to create our own models of reality. A person’s individual and unique personality will cause them, naturally, to have individual interests. Even though we have our self-concepts that we are aware of, these concepts can then as a result model the reality we live in. We unconsciously tune into specifics events, conversations and people that relate to our own personal self-concepts. This then as a result modifies our realty to what we are personally interested in and we disregard everything else as it isn’t of significance to us at a specific moment. We subconsciously create a bubble around us and only filling it with information we want to retain and interact with that match our own self-concept.
A person’s personality can also vary the way they perceive reality. Dependant on whether a person has a passive, passive-aggressive and assertive personality can truly alter a person’s life. Having a passive personality is the one that will affect your decisions in life the most. O’Grady (2001, p. 252) outlines that we as humans like to believe that we do the things we do because it is what we want to do, not because we may have been forced to do it or embarrassed not to do it. But Solomon Asch conducted an experiment that shows we do conform out of pressure and embarrassment due to the fear of being the odd one out. This is due to our constant craving for social acceptance and this can influence how we live our lives and then in turn our models of reality. Solomon Asch’s experiment (Schuttleworth, 2008) was to have a group of paid actors in a room with a unknowing subject. He then asked them to match a line to another of the same length. The paid actors all gave a false answer and as a result, out of fear of embarrassment, 75% of the subjects tested agreed with the wrong answer even though the true answer was clear (Schuttleworth, 2008). This highlights that someone with a passive personality is very likely to alter their thoughts, ideas and opinions to fit the ideals of others out of fear. This disables them to live and experience their life true to themselves and feel they have to alter it to achieve their standards of other people’s model of reality.
This assignment clearly examines how Behavioural Science influences the models of reality. The essay began with describing the history of behavioural science, Darwin and Hippocrates influences on the pasts view of reality and the impact it left behind for modern day behavioural scientists. The past is a prominent example highlighting just how broadly science has grown overtime. This essay also outlines the importance of scientific methods and how they influence our models of reality. It explores the impact of perception and its importance on the models of reality. Finally, this assessment points out the influences one’s personality has on the models of reality.
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