Some of the important methods of Studying Human Behaviour as Formulated by Psychologists are as follows: 1. Introspection Method 2. Observation Method 3. Experimental Method 4. Clinical Method/Case History Method 5. Survey Method 6. Genetic Method 7. Testing Method.
1. Introspection Method:
This method was introduced by EB Titchener. This is also known as self-observation method. Introspection means ‘to look within’.
It is not possible to understand the inner feelings and experiences of other persons. But the individual himself can observe and report.
Example: A patient can report about his pains and other disturbances in a better way than by a nurse. He will look within himself and explain how he is feeling. This will help for a better treatment. Though Introspection is a useful method, it has some demerits also.
(a) We cannot verify the reports given by the observer hence we have to accept his report. At times even if he is reporting correctly there may be distortions
(b) This method cannot be used to study children, animals and persons suffering from mental disorders. But this is a cheap and easy method.
2. Observation Method:
This method is very useful in the areas where experiments cannot be conducted. In this method the observer will observe and collect the data. Example: In the hospital the nurse will make observation of patient’s temperature, pulse, BP, facial expressions, etc.
This method is very useful to study the children, mentally ill, animals and unconscious patients. At times the observer will go to the natural settings, situations, etc. in order to get the objective data.
Because, in natural settings the person being observed will not be aware that he is being observed, his behaviour will be natural/ original. Hence, this method is also known as ‘naturalistic observation’ or ‘objective observation’ method.
This is a very good and useful method. But the disadvantages here are:
(a) There are chances of subjective report, and prejudices of observer may creep in. Sometimes to observe the natural behaviour the observer may have to spend more time, energy and money.
3. Experimental Method:
This is the most objective way of studying the behaviour. In this method, experiments are conducted in the laboratories under controlled conditions. In experiments, usually the effect of independent variable on the dependent variable is studied.
Hence, there will be two variables, viz., Independent and dependent variable. There will be some other variables which are not wanted by the experimenter, and their interference may affect the results of the experiment.
Such variables are to be controlled. These unwanted variables are called ‘extraneous’ or ‘intervening’ variables. Experiments are conducted under controlled conditions in order to control the effect of these extraneous variables.
Examples: The effect of music on the level of blood pressure can be studied in laboratory settings. Here, the music is independent variable and the BP is dependent variable. All other sounds other than music are extraneous variables that are to be controlled, so that the effect of only music can be assessed. Similarly the effect of different drugs, food, etc. can also be studied.
Experiments may also be conducted by using two groups called experimental group and control group. In such experiments, independent variable is operated only on experimental group and the control group is kept constant.
Otherwise, the experiment may be conducted on the same group under two conditions, viz., experimental and controlled conditions.
Generally the following steps are followed in an experiment:
a. Identification of the problem
b. Formulation of hypothesis
c. Designing the experiment
d. Testing the hypothesis by experiment
e. Analysis of results
f. Interpretation of results.
The advantage of this method is that, the results of the experiment may be verified by repetition of the same experiment. But this method has some demerits also.
(a) Conducting experiment is very expensive and time consuming;
(b) another feature is that the experiments cannot be conducted outside the laboratory.
4. Clinical Method/Case History Method:
This method is used very commonly in hospitals and also in educational settings. In hospitals, when a patient is admitted, the nurse can collect the detailed information pertaining to the disease of the patient. The information includes the past history of the disease, treatment taken already, changes if any like-improvement, present condition, probable causes, signs and symptoms, etc. This information may be obtained from the patient, his close relatives like parents, siblings or others who accompany him or from his friends, neighbours, etc.
5. Survey Method:
This is used to gather the information from large number of people. Questionnaires, checklists, rating scales, inventories are used to collect the required information. This method is usually used to gather information about political opinion, customers’ preferences, etc. It may also be used to know the information pertaining to medical profession—like awareness about diseases and remedial programmes, malnutrition, opinions about health needs, health facilities available, etc.
6. Genetic Method:
This method is also called as developmental method. Most of our behaviours are the result of earlier experiences. In some cases when we need to understand some behaviour we need to know their developmental aspects also. For example, in order to understand the behaviour of adults we need to know their childhood development.
This can be done by two ways:
(a) Cross-sectional study in which, the children of different age groups will be studied simultaneously,
(b) longitudinal study in which, the same individual will be studied in different stages of life. This is more useful method to understand the behaviour from point of view of hereditary and environmental influences.
7. Testing Method:
Different tests are developed by psychologists to study various aspects of behaviour. The attitudes, interests, abilities, intelligence, adjustments, personality and such other factors which influence behaviour, can be studied by administering the suitable tests.