Numerous kinds of research methods and techniques are being used in social psychology. The tradition of theory-based investigation remains strong in the discipline. In recent years rigorously exact mathematical models of social behavior have been used increasingly in psychological studies. Such models are projections, based on theory and in arithmetic detail, of social behavior in a possible system of social relationships.
Other techniques include the questionnaire and the interview, both used widely in public opinion polls and studies of consumer preferences. These two methods pose a considerable challenge to investigators. The kind of control of the environment that is possible in the laboratory is not available in the field, and the effects of subtle variables that can be observed in experiments are easily obscured by other variables that may exist in natural environments.
Frequently, behavior in natural settings is systematically observed, or computers are programmed to simulate social behavior. Special techniques are used for analysis of statistics and other data and for attitude measurement as well as measurement of social choice and interpersonal attractiveness. Also important is psychophysiological measurement, that is, themeasurement of shared mental and physiological characteristics. Cross-national and cross-cultural research is one of the modern techniques, designed to provide comparisons of behavior between nations and cultures; the same research study is carried out in several different countries in order to determine the cross-cultural validity of the research.
In the study of social behavior in animals, a laboratory environment facilitates controlled experimentation, that is, experimentation considering the previous history of the animals as well as their present environmental conditions. Simple behavioral acts, such as a pigeon pecking at an object, can be isolated and schedules of reinforcement-that is, repetition of stimuli-can be maintained. Social psychological research with animals has led to important new techniques for their training.
Applied Social Psychology
The principles developed in laboratory and field research in social psychology have been applied to many social situations and problems. Applied researchers and consultants have worked to ameliorate problems found in ethnic relations, international relations, industrial and labor relations, political and economic behavior, education, advertising, and community mental health. Industries, organizations, schools, and task groups of many kinds regularly use the services of applied social psychologists to improve interpersonal relations, to increase understanding of relations between members of groups in conflict with one another, and to diagnose and help correct problems in group and organizational productivity.
10. Psychiatry and mental health
Psychiatry is the realm in which medical science and psychology join to provide help for persons whose mind (as one says) is disturbed and whose behavior does not conform to accept social patterns. Psychopathology and clinical psychology are integral sub-fields of this branch of medical psychology which, of necessity, also includes neurology, mental deficiency or retardation, forensic psychology, certain aspects of abnormal psychology, social psychology and psychotherapy. Mental illness has been recognized as such since the days of Aristotle and Hippocrates, and its long modern history has been able described by some scientists.
Mental Health, state characterized by psychological well-being and self-acceptance. The term mental health usually implies the capacity to love and relate to others, the ability to work productively, and the willingness to behave in a way that brings personal satisfaction without encroaching upon the rights of others. In a clinical sense, mental health is the absence of mental illness.
The Mental Health Movement
Concern for the mentally ill has waxed and waned through the centuries, but the development of modern-day approaches to the subject dates from the mid-18th century, when reformers such as the French physician Philippe Pinel and the American physician Benjamin Rush introduced humane "moral treatment" to replace the often cruel treatment that then prevailed. Despite these reforms, most of the mentally ill continued to live in jails and poorhouses-a situation that continued until 1841, when the American reformer Dorothea Dix campaigned to place the mentally ill in hospitals for special treatment.
The modern mental health movement can be traced to the publication in 1908 of A Mind That Found Itself, an account of the experience of its author, Clifford Whittingham Beers, as a mental patient. The book aroused a storm of public concern for the mentally ill. In 1909 Beers founded the National Committee for Mental Hygiene.
Public awareness of the need for greater governmental attention to mental health services led to passage of the National Mental Health Act in 1946. This legislation authorized the establishment of the National Institute of Mental Health to be operated as a part of the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1950 the National Committee for Mental Hygiene was reorganized as the National Association for Mental Health, better known as the Mental Health Association.
In 1955 Congress established a Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health to survey the mental health needs of the nation and to recommend new approaches. Based on the commission's recommendations, legislation was passed in 1963 authorizing funds for construction of facilities for community-based treatment centers. A similar group, the President's Commission on Mental Health, reported its findings in 1978, citing estimates of the cost of mental illness in the U.S. alone as being about $17 billion a year.
Scope of the Problem
According to a common estimate, at any one time 10 percent of the American population has mental health problems sufficiently serious to warrant care; recent evidence suggests that this figure may be closer to 15 percent. Not all the people who need help receive it, however; in 1975 only 3 percent of the American population received mental health service. One major reason for this is that people still fear the stigma attached to mental illness and hence often fail to report it or to seek help.
Analysis of the figures on mental illness shows that schizophrenia afflicts an estimated 2 million Americans, another 2 million suffer from profound depressive