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Social Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multidimensional Perspective 4th edition by Jose B. Ashford. Craig Winston LeCroy (Brooks / Cole) In our first edition, we tried to do something very different. We attempted to bridge the chasm between issues of application and theory by bringing together our diverse expertise—a focus on human behavior theory and a focus on social work practice. Given our different skill sets (Jose teaches human behavior and Craig teaches social work practice), we hoped to write a textbook that would link the development of assessment skills with the examination of curriculum content relevant to Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE) education policy standards. With this end in view, we are pleased that our efforts in writing our first edition helped stimulate a new generation of textbooks that now include issues of assessment in the coverage of HBSE foundation knowledge.

We also are pleased to see that the Council of Social Work Education has moved in a similar direction and now requires schools to help students with the application of HBSE content. The Education Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS, 2008) promulgated a specific standard that requires programs to help students develop competencies in the application of knowledge of human behavior and the social environment. In keeping with this welcomed development in the evolution of our profession, our fourth edition includes reviews of competencies for students that focus on three relevant EPAS concerns: (a) application of frameworks to assessment, evaluation, and interventions; (b) critiques of knowledge, concepts, and theories relevant for understanding person and environment interactions; and (c) critiques of knowledge about biopsychosocial development across the life span.

Because of the explosion of knowledge in the behavioral, biological, medical, and social sciences, we knew that we needed to address topics that capitalized on the strengths and the broad range of interests held by our colleagues. This challenge did not disappear with the writing of this edition. Our ability to respond to this challenge has been enhanced significantly by the strong support that we have received from our colleagues and students across the country in suggesting topics and research findings for inclusion in this edition. This level of support has greatly been appreciated, as well as the continued advice and counsel that we have received from our chapter consultants and our excellent outside reviewers.

The focus on biopsychosocial interactions in our integrative framework has received wide acclaim. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2006) has recommended the adoption of a similar approach. For this reason, we are proud that our approach has kept pace with key developments in various areas of science policy and with the broad scaled efforts taking place at the National Institutes of Health, and other research institutions, to move professions out of their respective silos toward the adoption of more integrative and translational approaches to understanding biopsychosocial issues of health and well-being. In particular, this edition examines current evidence on the reciprocal contributions of genes and environment to specific developmental outcomes that have stimulated substantial excitement in the scientific community. We hope that our colleagues will share some of our excitement about many of these findings with their students, as well as clarify their significance for future practice and policy concems.

As in earlier editions, this edition has been revised to include the latest research and the latest writings on theory about person and environment interactions. We have added new references from 2005 to 2009 and new information from original sources on several key social and psychological theories recommended. The 4th edition offers:

  • New section on multiracial group opportunities and barriers
  • Data on changes in rates of hate crimes
  • Controversy involving race as a biological concept in medical research
  • New section on maternal anxiety and depression
  • New voices section on pregnancy after 35 New section on developmental judgments of right and wrong in infants
  • Research on new understandings about object permanence
  • Content about emotional regulation and the First Steps program
  • New content on temper tantrums and anger regulation in toddlers
  • Obesity and diet in early childhood
  • Memory milestones in the preschool years Aggressive behavior and pathways during the preschool years
  • New information on the No Child Left Behind Act
  • New information on evidence-based practice implications throughout the chapters
  • Research on the biological changes occurring in adolescence
  • Revised information on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth
  • Implications of birth spacing for young mothers
  • Physical fitness and health in middle age
  • Current issues in caregiving for older adults
  • by outside consultants. In addition, new cases, new headings, new charts, new exhibits, and new sections on reflections by social work educators have been added.
  • Some of the highlights of the changes in this edition include
  • New content on developmental systems theory
  • New section contrasting humans as social and cultural animals
  • Additional content on problems with single causal theories
  • New content on cultural competence and globalization
  • Clarification of public health distinctions between hazards and risks
  • Updated concepts of types of prevention from NIH
  • New section on a biopsychosocial formulation for mental health professionals
  • New content on the differences between theories and perspectives
  • New section on critical inquiry
  • New content on the strengths perspective
  • New section on developments in social neuroscience
  • Content on research involving significant gene environment interactions
  • Aging paternity and risks for lower IQ and other cognitive impairments
  • New exhibits on psychosocial development and defense mechanisms
  • Content on stages of social information processing
  • New section on structural/domain theories of moral development
  • Content on new research involving procedural memory
  • Content on what is characterized as the memory bump
  • New section on life without emotions
  • New section on three emotions encountered in practice contexts: anger, guilt, and shame
  • Research on affect as information hypothesis
  • Developments in social cognition
  • New section on social exchange theory
  • Reorganization of the sequencing of content in the social dimension
  • Research on stress and social isolation
  • Content on social class as an important identification group

Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Macro, National, and International Perspective by Rudolph Alexander, Jr. (Sage Publications)

Taking a macro or broad perspective, Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) covers human behaviors within the social environment that is, how organizations, institutions, and communities impact individuals and families. Providing students with in-depth coverage of families, groups, and communities, the text encourages students to understand the nature of key macro institutions impact on human behaviors and vice versa. The primary chapters include a section on knowledge and theories followed by the impact on economic and social forces upon these topics. Students develop a knowledge of different macro HBSE theories including community, human conduct, inequality, and group theories.

While author Rudolph Alexander Jr., professor and Director of the BSSW Program at the Ohio State University, follows the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) outlines for macro HBSE courses throughout this text, he provides distinctive topical coverage including:

  • The impact of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
  • Human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in international communities and their effect on human needs.
  • Theoretical discussion of terrorism and terrorist activities.

As an HBSE textbook, Human Behavior in the Social Environment's primary focus is social institutions, organizations, and communities. Chapter 1 provides a foundation by defining social work, social environment, and human needs. It explains why human needs exist and what causes human needs. Additionally, this chapter discusses human needs in the international communities, particularly those extremely poor communities wracked by considerable human rights violations, as defined by the United Nations. At the end of the chapter is the conceptual framework that Alexander identifies as world systems theory. Overall, the book is grounded in world systems theory as it provides, in part, an understanding of core, semi-periphery, and periphery societies, which one researcher has applied to communities and the extent to which communities are core, semi-periphery, and periphery communities. Chapter 2 discusses human needs in more depth, particularly those caused by poverty, race, gender, natural disasters, violence, crime, ethnic cleansings and genocide, and wars. Natural disasters are discussed as they have a serious impact on human needs and communities. Chapter 3 discusses a number of theories that explain macro HBSE, including social systems theory, community theory, social disorganization theory, routine activity theory, migration theory, inequality theory, feminist theory, power theory and social independence theory, social learning theory, reference group theory, role theory, and Black's theory of law. These theories are loosely grouped as community theories, human conduct theories, inequality theories, and group theories. Chapters 4 and 5 contain discussions of social institutions, including the family, education, religion, medicine and health, the news media, and law. Chapter 6 discusses organizations and their impact, good and bad, on human needs. Chapter 7 discusses urban communities, and Chapter 8 discusses rural communities. Last, Chapter 9 has discussions about several developing countries.

In order to follow CSWE outlines for HBSE, the primary chapters in Human Behavior in the Social Environment, those on organizations, social institutions, and communities, include a section on knowledge and theories, followed by one on the impact of economic and social forces on these topics. In its discussion of families, this textbook includes military families and their needs. Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, numerous veterans have returned with posttraumatic stress disorder and domestic violence issues. This textbook examines the impact of natural disasters on human and community needs, such as a major flooding in North Dakota and hurricanes in Florida and New Orleans. For instance, mental health professionals have documented the rise in suicides and depression in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, this textbook discusses human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in international communities and their impact on human needs. As an illustration, the genocide that occurred in Rwanda devastated families. However, some female survivors in Rwanda have been able to rebuild farms and increase the yield for coffee beans. In fact, these women are better farmers than their male relatives were. Economically and politically, women in Rwanda have benefited from tremendous advances following the genocide that took many of their relatives. Last, Human Behavior in the Social Environment provides a theoretical discussion of terrorism or terrorist activities, void of the emotionality attached to it. Many American movies and television programs intended for entertainment comprise plots involving terrorists who seek to harm Americans, but one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Social scientists have formulated a theoretical model to predict which countries will have terrorism due to economic and political oppression within these countries.

By reading Human Behavior in the Social Environment, students acquire knowledge and theories involving families, organizations, and communities. Students also acquire an understanding of the economic and political forces impinging on families, organizations, and communities. Equally, students understand the almost reciprocal nature of these macro institutions' impact on human behaviors.

The text is accompanied by robust ancillaries. The Instructor Resources include test questions and PowerPoint slides. The Student Study Site offers quizzes and SAGE journal articles.

Human Behavior in the Social Environment incorporates a distinctive international and national perspective providing students with a solid knowledge of macro HBSE theories and in-depth coverage of families, groups, and communities. The book helps students become aware of how events and occurrences in one system affect other systems, and provides knowledge that may be used for social work practice and intervention and social welfare policy analysis. This text is appropriate for social work students taking a macro Human Behavior in the Social Environment course in the upper-level undergraduate or graduate level.

The Psychology of B.F. Skinner by William T. O'Donohue, Kyle E. Ferguson (Sage) not only introduce the life of one of the most influential psychologists of the past century but also put that life into historical and philosophical context. In so doing, they illuminate Skinner's contributions to psychology, his philosophy of science, his experimental research program, and the behavioral principles and applied aspects that emerged from it. They also rebut criticism of Skinner's work, including radical behaviorism, and discuss key developments others have derived from it.

Behaviorists, or more precisely Skinnerians, commonly consider Skinner's work to have been misrepresented, misunderstood, and, to some extent, even defamed. The authors take great care in accurately representing both the strengths and the weaknesses of his positions. They also attempt to correct misinterpretations of his work. Finally, they guide students through Skinner's theories and demonstrate their applications and usefulness via extensive examples and illustrations.

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