This chapter addresses the questions of 1) what do we mean by “behavior” in personality and social psychology, and 2) how can we best assess social behavior. We define behavior as being observable and socially meaningful, but also discuss the dimensions on which behavior varies (e.g., intentional vs. habitual, discrete vs. continuous). We also discuss important variabilities in behavior as they relate to issues of measurement (e.g., behavioral frequency or desirability). For behavior assessment, we focus on some of the practical issues involved (e.g., choosing a coding system, selecting an observational setting), as well as how behavior assessment might intersect with personality and social psychological theory (e.g., manipulating or assessing behavior as it serves as moderator, mediator, or outcome in a theory). We end by discussing some emerging technologies that might prove useful for behavioral assessment (e.g., virtual reality), as well as a call for more integration of behavioral measures into future research.


behavior, behavioral assessment, behavioral observation, research methods

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