Portland State University. Department of Sociology.
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology
1 online resource (4, vii, 219 p.)
Social groups, Social interaction, Human behavior
The research sought to ascertain whether or not psychological ideas and notions ("psychological models") are used to explain human behavior and human characteristics in everyday life, and if so, are these psychological models similar to the schools of thought within the field of psychology? Also of interest was whether or not "statistical categories" use psychological models as a "style of thought," and if so, are psychological models part of the current American Weltanschauungen? The convenience sample consisted of 34 respondents who were taking an introductory sociology course, and 39 respondents from non-college settings. An open-ended questionnaire containing 13 questions asking for causal explanations of human behaviors and characteristics was used. Students filled out the questionnaire during a class and returned the questionnaires at the end of the class. The questionnaires that were administered in non-college settings were distributed by research assistants at their places of employment and collected within 24 hours. Over 900 causal explanations of human behaviors and human characteristics were collected. Each causal explanation was coded in terms of the basic cause or causes given in the causal explanation of the respondent. The causes given in the respondents• causal explanations were analyzed and it was determined what "kinds of causal explanations" respondents used. Five kinds of causal explanations were found to be used by the respondents. These were: 1) psychological explanations; 2) interpersonal explanations; 3) physiological explanations; 4) social structural explanations; and 5) cultural explanations. Also, there were multi-causal explanations which consisted of combinations of the 5 kinds of mono-causal explanations. From the kinds of causal explanations given by respondents a typology of the kinds of models respondents used to explain human behavior was developed. Each causal explanation given by a respondent was cla$sified in terms of the models typology. It was the "models" variable which was derived from the kinds of causal explanations that respondents gave that was the main variable in the research. The first part of the analysis assigned each respondent a "dominant model." The dominant model used by a respondent was determined by assessing what kind of model a respondent used more frequently than any other kind of model in the 13 causal explanations the respondent gave. The second part of the analysis assigned a dominant model to various statistical "categories" which were based on age, sex, or education. The dominant model of a category was determined by assessing the dominant model used for each question, then determining what kind of dominant model was used most frequently for explaining the 13 behaviors or characteristics. When examining the dominant model used by each respondent it was found that individuals in the sample tended to use a psychological model more frequently than any other kind of model when explaining human behaviors and characteristics. Additionally, when the age, or sex, or education of the respondent was considered in the analysis of the dominant model used by an individual it was found that only the individuals between 25 and 40 years of age tended not to use a psychological model as their dominant model. When examining the dominant model used by statistical categories, categories whose membership was based on age, sex, or education, it was found that categories tended to use a psychological model as their dominant model. However, the category "25 to 40 years of age" did not use a psychological model as the dominant model. Also, when the category whose membership was based on having taken psychology courses was compared in detail to the category whose membership was based on having not taken psychology courses it was found that these two categories used dominant and other models similarly.
Sones, David L., "Psychological Models and the Stock of Knowledge" (1992). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4743.