Observational Research: Perspectives in Psychology

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Observational research in psychology is a crucial aspect that permits psychologists to passively monitor participants’ behavior without manipulating or intervening in the actions being watched. This essay took an observational study of a six-year-old boy showing aggressive behaviors when alone and interacting with others, mates or adults. For the case of this essay, the child would be called Cane. During the study, the child expressed angry tantrums, kicking, biting, hitting, irrational outbursts causing property damage, verbal assaults, swearing, pure bullying, and violence or threats used to exert control over mates.

Cane’s behavior was studied at school and home with a five-minute duration for each instance. The behaviors are distinct and definite while in these two environments. While in school and around peers, Cane is a cold-headed bully using verbal assaults, swearing, and threats to exercise control over his peers in numerous circumstances. Additionally, while at home, the child throws tantrums, kicking, hitting, and even biting to show disapproval of instructions given by older siblings or parents. At one point, he led a hot-headed outburst breaking a glass table. On the other hand, several causes and effects were observed while studying Cane. His peers at school are afraid of interacting with him. This made his behavior even worse because he felt he was feared. At home, he is repulsive and does not interact with family members. The behaviors have culminated in disrespect to both his siblings and parents.

Child aggression and conflict have been a discussion topic that has produced various theories and theorists. According to Nickerson, theorists Dollard and Miller postulated the frustration-aggression hypothesis, which mentions that “aggression is a result of frustration. Frustration is any event or stimulus that prevents an individual from attaining a goal and accompanying reinforcement quality” (Nickerson). Whenever external causes thwart an individual’s desire to achieve a purpose, they become frustrated, which leads to an aggressive effort, which can escalate to hostile conduct. This implies Cane’s situation since he always wants to control his peers; he becomes more frustrated whenever they reject such advances, becoming aggressive.

Apart from the frustration-aggression theory, the social learning theory can be related to Cane’s behavior. Huesmann discusses the social learning theory by Bandura as a significant contributor to aggressive behaviors (1). Like all social behaviors, aggressive conduct results from underlying personality traits and triggering environmental conditions. Predisposing personal attributes exercise their impact through generating programmed social cognitions such as scripts for social behavior, world schemas, and conventional ideas regarding what descent is. The stated social cognitions engage with environmental primes to affect behavior.

It is vital to note that observational learning primarily produces social cognitions. For example, children frequently subjected to violence may develop social cognitions that promote aggressiveness that can endure into adolescence. Huesmann explained Bandura’s social learning theory, representing Cane’s situation in that context. The boy is a fan of violent or fighting video games. In most cases, he would be playing these games non-stop, especially during his free time. Canes acquired learned aggression through these games, which he intentionally applies in real life. And as a child, he always wants to put into practice everything he learns.

There are seven major psychology perspectives; however, this essay finds biological, behavioral, and cross-cultural perspectives applicable to Cane’s behavior analysis. A biological perspective can relate to Cane’s nervous system and brain in explaining his aggressive behavior. Additionally, the behavioral perspective connects how various variables in his environment reinforce aggressive behavior and actions. Lastly, a cross-cultural approach may help understand how social and cultural influences predispose his aggressive behavior (Cherry). For the case of Cane, among the three, the most crucial perspective is behavioral since, as a six-year-old, the environment variables significantly affect his conduct. These variables may include the kind of media he interacts with, his social groups, and behaviors of the sort he is exposed to. For example, Cane plays violent video games, making it possible to develop violent behaviors such as hitting his peers.

Violent behaviors start in childhood and can culminate in adulthood. Aggression can be a self-perpetuating, generally consistent trait that originates early in childhood and thrive up to maturity. Since this behavior can be learned in the social context, it is more likely to be ingrained in Cane’s cognition as one of his signature traits prompting frequent occurrences. Additionally, because he gets frustrated easily when his demands are met, there is a high possibility that his aggressive behavior will continue. Besides, if the behavior is due to biological factors (hereditary), then it will reoccur in the future, especially if he continues playing violent video games.

In society, aggressive behavior is unacceptable, and if it culminates, for example, in physical abuse, it can lead to prosecution. Therefore, it is essential to control Cane’s behavior before it escalates to punishable offenses. As an experimenter, it is crucial to behave in the best interest of the subjects; however, in Cane’s case, as the researcher, a pre-agreed control will help. First, it is crucial to identify Cane’s triggers and aggressive patterns. In this case, he must be limited access to things like violent video games. The parents, siblings, or teachers should avoid reprimanding and yelling at Cane but instead help him ingrain self-control. The child can be subjected to cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help recognize and adjust unwanted behavior practices and patterns. Since this is a child, he should be handled with care to avoid a ‘break’ in his personality.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. “The 7 Major Perspectives in Psychology.” Verywell Mind, 2019, Web.

Huesmann, L Rowell. “An Integrative Theoretical Understanding of Aggression: A Brief Exposition.” Current Opinion in Psychology vol. 19 (2018): 119-124.

Nickerson, Charlotte. “Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis.” Simplypsychology.Org, 2021, Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Observational Research: Perspectives in Psychology." March 9, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/observational-research-perspectives-in-psychology/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Observational Research: Perspectives in Psychology." March 9, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/observational-research-perspectives-in-psychology/.


PsychologyWriting. "Observational Research: Perspectives in Psychology." March 9, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/observational-research-perspectives-in-psychology/.