Behavior Analysis

Sarah Tucker is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Behaviour Analysis. Her boss Alex Rutter, a professor of psychology, is unhappy that staff at the Centre took part in several media interviews in the days immediately following the riots in England during the summer of 2011. In these interviews the staff offered the following explanations for the riots: * Lack of family liaison following the shooting of alleged drug dealer and gang member Mark Duggan *Failure of the police to communicate with the local community * Gang culture * Lack of empathy and altruism and an eroding sense of community * History of police prejudice in the community * Failure to establish links with radicalised groups * The need to treat violence as a disease and to examine ways of protection, prevention and behaviour change rather than the isolation of offenders *‘Criminality’ * Education policy that creates ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ causing disaffection and alienation of the vulnerable and disadvantaged * Media coverage that encourages copycat behaviour and imitation (e.g. the Werther effect and contagious behaviour) Professor Rutter believes that his staff simply yielded to pressure from the media to provide immediate explanations without the benefit of empirical evidence to support any such explanations. Professor Rutter’s view is that, as a science, psychology should only offer explanations based on sound empirical evidence. Sarah has therefore been asked to develop a programme of research for the Centre with the aim of providing evidence-based psychological explanations for riots and rioting behaviour. Guide Questions: 1 What questions should Sarah ask? 2 How might she find the answers to these questions? 3.How would the answers to the questions add to our understanding of the riots in London and Salford? 4. How might the knowledge gained affect current policy on riots and rioting? For example: * Was there a lack of communication between the police and the local community during the 2011 riots, for example? …explore if there is a need for understanding the reasons why there was a disconnect. What does this tell us? Would you recommend carrying out focus groups with the local community? Why?

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