Topic: Behavioral Science



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Behavioral sciences deal with human actions and try to generalize about those actions in the society while social sciences deal with the human society with the interrelationships with the members of the society. Social and behavioral sciences research methods are different since human behavior is unpredictable. The paper below reviews the research methods in sociology and cultural anthropology and justifies their application in research (Stangor, 2010).

Sociology is the study of the many aspects of a society’s culture, population, institutions and its origin. The use of surveys and content analysis as research methods are described as follows. The content analysis uses cultural artefacts such as magazines, television programs or music to learn about society. Content analysis can be used to measure indirectly how social groups are perceived in a community by sociologists.  Researchers quantify and analyze the meaning and relationship of concepts within the cultures they are studying. The use of this method in research is preferred since it has no effect on the person being studied as the culture has been there.  The materials for research are easy to gain access to as they are either written or recorded communication. However, its use is limited since it can only utilize the available resources. These resources can also be inaccurate and may provoke different interpretations from other researchers (Stangor, 2010).

Surveys, on the other hand, are most commonly used while reducing a numerical value from a human experience. They are used to access thoughts, feelings and opinions. The survey consists of a set of questions and is given to a sample. Sociologists use this method when attempting to explain human behaviour.  Concrete figures are needed for decision making thus reliance on survey results as indicators. Researchers can achieve large samples of data at a low cost while using this method. The data achieved can be used to achieve other various statistical analyses. The most commonly used survey tool is questionnaires. Their results, however, are dependent on their accuracy (Stangor, 2010).

The importance of using content analysis as a method of sociology research is that minimal resources are required to access and analyze data.  Analysis can be done without interrupting or involving the target sample. The application and success of the content analysis is subject to the accuracy and interpretation of data from the various resources, and their coding to give a clear picture as conceptualized by the reader (Stangor, 2010).

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Cultural anthropology is the study of cultural variations among humans: Their beliefs, values, economies, practices and ideas.  There are different research methods used in cultural anthropology. Below in the essay, the use of observations are reviewed. Observation is the systematic description of behaviors, events, and artifacts in the social setting chosen for study (Stangor, 2010). Observations help describe existing situations using the five senses thus making it the preferred method used by anthropologists during fieldwork.  Observation may take different forms: direct observation or observation in the situation. Direct observation involves the conducting of studies by taking accounts from individuals rather than observing a situation first-hand. Observation in the situation involves the researcher living in the community, participating, observing and talking with individuals while interpreting the observations. In this case,  the researcher becomes the main instrument of data collection. On the other hand, another method used by sociologists is interviewing as a tool for research. Interview techniques are either structured or unstructured. Structured is the simplest as they involve one person asking another a list of predetermined questions about a selected topic. This method is most effective as the interviewer gets the answers to questions. Unstructured interviews have more informal, flexible and open-ended questions which are not preset. This method, however, lacks reliability and precision. This approach makes the interview a very flexible method for research (Stangor, 2010).

The use of interviews as a method of anthropology research method is that interviews sample representative in the whole population thus the researcher will be driven to interview only those who will address his needs. The interview approach is flexible, therefore, providing insightful details. The best insight are needed and therefore the interviewee represents a whole set of opinions and experience. There are various types of interviews as mentioned some herein, as well as various styles in which they can be administered. Interview allows for greater understanding and accurate results thus it is a very important tool when collecting data. It provides important data for reference, or when used as a tool to gather information for further research while using a different method. This technique however does use the willingness of the respondent to rely on accurate and complete answers (Stangor, 2010).

A comparison between the two reveals that both are concerned with human behavior in its social setting. However, as sociologists pay more attention to how the social network manifests itself, anthropology more of lays emphasis on culture. According to the methods of collecting data, sociology tends to use more of statistics and surveys while cultural anthropologists’ approach focuses on little or no interference with the subjects; just observing (Stangor, 2010).


Stangor, C. (2010). Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences. New York: Cengage Learning.

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