what degree of the social sciences can truly predict social behavior? In what specific ways do you think human behavior is predictable/ unpredictabl
Human behavior is actually surprisingly easy to predict if you know what you are looking for. By reading certain signs from behavior, we can predict how a person will behave. This is what allows the police to catch a suspect, and also what allows the potato chip company to cause you to buy their product. Yes, there are people that are unpredictable, and sometimes even predictable people will do something unpredictable. In general though, human behavior is easier to predict than you might think.
Individual human behavior is hard to predict. Each of us will behave in situations in a way that is unique to our experiences and personality. I would agree with the above posts in that you may be able to predict the behavior of groups of people better than individuals.
Agreeing with post #2, and I would also add that I believe the Social Sciences are more accurate at predicting the behavior of groups of people rather than that of individuals.
I believe that social psychologists are often accurate when predicting that most people will stick to social norms (for example, shake the hand of someone who reaches their hand out to you), or conform to certain social standards (for example, the dress code at work).
They also seem to be accurate when explaining or predicting the behavior of people when they are with a group. For instance, the "mob mentality" has a lot of evidence surrounding it.
However, when it comes to individualism, human behavior prediction becomes way more complex, and hit or miss.
I would argue that the social sciences are capable of predicting human behavior in general but that they are not capable of predicting the behavior of any given human being in any given situation.
For example, educational psychologists might find that most students retain information better if they read a passage and then write an essay that tries to describe what they just learned. The experiment can show that this leads to students retaining more information than if they simply read the passage over and over, for example.
However, the researchers cannot predict how much any individual will retain if they use one or the other of these study methods.
If the social sciences could accurately predict human behavior, we would not have nearly as many problems as we do with things like crime, poor performance in school, or economic downturns.