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ERIC Number: ED170019
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Aug
Pages: 20
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
Choices, Regrets, and Lousy Models (with Reference to Prosocial Development).
Mussen, Paul
Research in the development of prosocial behavior in children is better done by naturalistic than by experimental methods. The choice of what problems to address in social science research depends upon value commitments. The ultimate criterion for evaluating research in the behavioral sciences must be social relevance and utility. The dominant model in studying prosocial behavior has been that of experimental social psychology. The resulting research has focused more on the experimentally manipulable aspects of situations than on the characteristics of people. Experimental methods have determined what problems are addressed, rather than vice versa. In addition, the variables have been operationally defined in simplistic ways and investigated in artificial situations. This may aid experimentation, but it has frequently produced findings which are trivial or untrue. There are alternative methods, such as Piaget's "methode clinique," which are more appropriate for studying such important questions as the way children conceptualize the situations in which they do or do not behave prosocially. These questions and methods are more suitable for acquiring knowledge which has social relevance and utility. Thus, the balance of research effort must be shifted in the direction of more field and naturalistic studies. (Examples of experimental and naturalistic studies are employed in support of this argument.) (Author/BH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Naturalistic Studies
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (85th, San Francisco, California, August 26-30, 1977)