Discover our App

Centerpointe Research


Variables That Effect Behavior

Regular psychology not allowed...

Regular psychology not allowed… (Photo credit: Bill McIntyre)

Experimental Psychologists study the variables that effect behavior in humans, animals, and sometimes plants.  The problem with conducting such studies is that there are many possible variables that may effect behavior.  When you conduct research you must be able to control as many variables as possible and be able to isolate the one or ones that you want to study and manipulate them in a controlled fashion.  The more control you have over different variables the less likely it is that the experimental situation will resemble what happens in everyday life.

The ideal experimental psychologist has to have some background involving the naturalistic observation of the behaviors or behaviors being studied.  The act of observation effects the behavior or behaviors being studied.  This has been found to be true in physics.  You can’t measure something without effecting it in some way.  The simplest study in psychology is watching what is going on in interactions between humans and between animals and even between plants and even more complexly between each form of life and the other forms of life.  In fact, often so much is going on that it is easy to miss things that later prove to be important.

Psychologists get their ideas on what variables that effect behavior from other psychologists’ research and observations and also from others’ theories about human, animal, and plant behavior.  It is good to know about past results in the field and to use these results to plan what to do in the future.  The problem is that any mistakes that were made in these studies could be replicated and perpetuated in the theories formulated from them.  The problem is that as science changes so does our view of the world and new things can be measured and observed in ways that were never thought of before.

Prejudices can effect the variables that effect behavior and experiments can be designed that perpetuate these beliefs.  Psychological studies have been done that suggest that if the person running the experiments, knows what effect that they want to get that will make that effect more likely to happen than if they don’t know.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dumb Animals?

I guess I was very impressionable when I was in grade school.  It was a christian school and I was thoroughly indoctrinated.  I didn’t know what I believed, but I knew what I was supposed to believe.  Being raised in the church and having the added experience of a religious education, was not totally a bad thing as it was there I learned about values and how to live my life in a way that considered others as well as myself.  It was from this advantage point that I developed my concepts of why we are in this world and what our purpose in life was.  As a result, I am not an atheist.  Unfortunately not everything I learned was helpful.

As I have said in another post, teachers often give their own point of view on the subject that they are teaching and children especially can easily accept their words as law.  Hopefully when they grow up they will find out that some of the things the teacher said did not represent the “gospel truth.”  I did, but not before making a few incorrect conclusions based on these teachings.  One belief I kept for a long time was that animals were dumb, not intelligent like humans, and their behavior was only based on instinct.  Also I thought humans were superior to animals in every way and that there was nothing an animal did that a human couldn’t do better.  I also believed that animals didn’t really deserve a place in God’s kingdom like man did.

When I first studied psychology, I learned that animals were acceptable substitutes for humans in experiments studying the origins and expressions of many behaviors.  Certain animals were more appropriate for use in such experiments than others depending on their similarity to humans. At the time animals were not considered to be intelligent like humans and could be used in ways that could not be used on humans. Recently (or at least since I was a student) we have learned that at least some animals can think (not everything they do is because of instinct) and/or use language which we used to think was reserved for humans. Also animals are special creatures that can do things that humans can’t do or do as well. I strongly suspect that as time goes on, we will find this to be more true rather than less.

Enhanced by Zemanta