Behavioural Science Blog

The Science of Human Behaviour

The Probabilistic Nature of Behavioural Phenotypes

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The probabilistic nature of behavioural phenotypes proclaims that people with a specific syndrome will have a heightened probability to exhibit specific behavior or developmental pathways that are different to others, who do not have the specific syndrome. The advantage of probabilistic nature of the construct is that it can account for exceptions and it is probably more ecological valid that a simple causal explanation. (Short excursion: I believe that statistical models that only test direct effects will be outdated in a few years, as we come to appreciate the complexity of behavioral science. Developmental psychopathology is leading the way with extensive use of structural equation modelling and a flexible theoretical framework that works with risk and protective factors. Such models have to potential to raise explanatory value beyond the simple causal models that are employed in most research today.) The behavioural phenotypes are less important for individual therapy where extensive diagnose should be performed, but they have stronger implications for intervention. If risk factors can be identified that apply for a certain population, specifically tailored interventions might be given to the whole group instead of individual therapy later on. That way specific skills and behaviors might help mentally retarded children to cross into a developmental stage, that could not have been reached without the intervention. The crucial thing is that intervention might be necessary at an early age, when children are most sensitive to the intervention, even thou the problematic behaviour might arise only in a later developmental stage.

Written by Martin Metzmacher

July 13, 2008 at 10:28 am

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