Is Observing Behaviour the Best Way to Understand Behaviour?


  • Leonel Garcia-Marques
  • Mário B. Ferreira


Dolinski (2018, this issue) argues that Social Psychology may hardly be considered a science of behaviour anymore, given the rarity of published studies in which the dependent measures involve behaviours other than the completion of surveys, pressing of keys on a computer keyboard, or clicking a mouse. In the present, we comment on this void of empirical studies in which “real” human behaviours are examined to put forward the following points: i) Key-pressing can be a human behaviour as meaningful as any other more complex behaviour (i.e., behavioural complexity is not a good criterion for meaningfulness), ii) Lessons learned from past research in social psychology have shown us that studying “real” behaviour introduces a number of well-known complications, iii) Improvement in the comprehension of human behaviour depends more on a strong theoretical lens constrained by results obtained via rigorous experimentation than on the complexity of people’s observed actions.