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Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Theories for Social Work Practice

ISBN: 978-1-118-24016-8
552 pages
July 2012
Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Theories for Social Work Practice (1118240162) cover image


An accessible and engaging guide to the study of human behavior in the social environment, covering every major theoretical approach

Providing an overview of the major human behavioral theories used to guide social work practice with individuals, families, small groups, and organizations, Human Behavior in the Social Environment examines a different theoretical approach in each chapter—from its historical and conceptual origins to its relevance to social work and clinical applications.

Each chapter draws on a theoretical approach to foster understanding of normative individual human development and the etiology of dysfunctional behavior, as well as to provide guidance in the application of social work intervention.

Edited by a team of scholars, Human Behavior in the Social Environment addresses the Council on Social Work Education's required competencies for accreditation (EPAS) and explores:

  • Respondent Learning theory
  • Operant Learning theory
  • Cognitive-Behavioral theory
  • Attachment theory
  • Psychosocial theory
  • Person-Centered theory
  • Genetic theory
  • Ecosystems theory
  • Small Group theory
  • Family Systems theory
  • Organizational theory
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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxix

About the Editors xxxi

Contributors xxxiii

Chapter 1 Human Behavior and the Social Environment: Exploring Conceptual Foundations 1
Susan I. Stone, Yolanda Anyon, Stephanie Berzin, Sarah Taylor, and Michael J. Austin

Scholarly and Professional Dilemmas Related to Human Behavior and the Social Environment 2

Development of the Human Behavior and Social Environment Construct 7

A Selection of Frameworks That Address Linkages Between Human Behavior and the Social Environment 14

Life Course Approach: An Application 17

The Social Environment: Key Concepts 28

Frameworks for Linking Knowledge to Practice 36

Conclusion 38

Key Terms 39

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 39

Online Resources 40

References 41

Chapter 2 Respondent Learning Theory 47
Bruce A. Thyer

Respondent Learning Processes 49

Naturally Occurring Examples of Respondent Learning in Real Life 56

Experimental Examples of Respondent Learning 59

Examples of Respondent Learning of Psychosocial Problems 62

Using Respondent Learning in Social Work Practice 67

Creating Conditioned Reactions 69

Philosophical Foundations of Respondent Learning 71

Key Terms 74

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 75

Online Resources 75

References 75

Chapter 3 Operant Learning Theory 83
Stephen E. Wong

Historical and Conceptual Origins 83

Basic Theoretical Principles 85

Advanced Theoretical Principles 96

Recent Theoretical Developments 98

Relevance to Social Work Practice 103

Critiques of the Operant Learning Approach 111

Key Terms 112

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 112

Online Resources 113

References 114

Chapter 4 Cognitive-Behavioral Theory 125
Paula S. Nurius and Rebecca J. Macy

Relevance to Contemporary Practitioners 125

Overview of Cognitive-Behavioral Theory 126

Historical and Conceptual Origins 128

Basic Theoretical Principles 132

Advanced Theoretical Principles 140

Recent Theoretical Developments 144

Relevance to Social Work Practice 146

Evidence-Based Foundations 154

Critiques of This Approach 155

Key Terms 157

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 157

Online Resources 158

References 159

Chapter 5 Attachment Theory 165
Michelle Mohr Carney and Phen M. Young

Historical and Conceptual Origins 166

Basic Theoretical Principles 168

Advanced Theoretical Principles 169

Recent Theoretical Developments 171

Relevance to Social Work Practice 173

Critiques of This Approach 182

Key Terms 183

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 183

Online Resources 184

References 184

Chapter 6 Psychosocial Theory 193
Roberta R. Greene

Developmental Theory 193

Historical and Conceptual Origins 194

Basic Theoretical Principles 197

Advanced Theoretical Principles 207

Recent Theoretical Developments 210

Relevance to Social Work Practice 212

Evidence-Based Foundations: Erikson on Erikson 214

Critiques of This Approach 215

Key Terms 219

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 219

Online Resources 220

References 220

Chapter 7 Person-Centered Theory 225
Michael J. Holosko, Jeffrey Skinner, and Catherine A. Patterson

Historical and Conceptual Origins 226

Basic Theoretical Principles 233

Advanced Theoretical Principles 239

Recent Theoretical Developments 243

Relevance to Social Work 244

Assessment 246

Intervention 248

Evidence-Based Foundations 251

Critiques of This Approach 254

Key Terms 257

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 258

Online Resources 258

References 259

Chapter 8 Genetic Theory 263
Laura J. Pankow

The Eukaryotic Cell 266

Chromosomes 268

Reproduction 270

Mitosis 271

Mendelian Genetics 273

The Process of Meiosis 275

Pedigrees 277

DNA and RNA 278

The Genetics of Gender 281

The Human Genome Project 285

Conclusion 291

Key Terms 292

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 292

Online Resources 292

References 294

Chapter 9 Ecosystems Theory 297
Mark A. Mattaini and Kristen Huffman-Gottschling

The Ecosystems Perspective in Social Work 298

The Conceptual Roots of the Ecosystems Perspective 300

Evaluating the Ecosystems Perspective 311

Returning to the Science 314

Mapping Practice 316

Conclusion 318

Key Terms 319

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 319

Online Resources 320

References 320

Chapter 10 Small Group Theory 327
Lorraine Moya Salas, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, and Craig Winston LeCroy

Definitions 329

History and Conceptual Origins 330

Basic Theoretical Principles 339

Advanced Theoretical Principles 344

Recent Theoretical Developments 350

Relevance to Social Work Practice 353

Evidence-Based Foundations 359

Critiques of This Approach 361

Key Terms 362

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 363

Online Resources 363

References 364

Chapter 11 Family Systems Theory 369
Martha Morrison Dore

Historical and Conceptual Origins 369

Basic Theoretical Principles 377

Advanced Theoretical Principles 379

Recent Theoretical Developments 383

Relevance to Social Work Practice 385

Evidence-Based Foundations 396

Critiques of This Theory 398

Key Terms 401

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 401

Online Resources 401

References 402

Chapter 12 Organizational Theory 411
John E. Tropman and Emily J. Nicklett

Organizational Behavior 411

Historical and Conceptual Origins 414

Basic Theoretical Principles 422

Advanced Theoretical Principles 426

Recent Theoretical Developments 432

Relevance to Social Work Practice 442

Overall Social Work Demographics 443

Evidence-Based Foundations 451

Critiques of This Approach 452

Conclusion 452

Key Terms 453

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 453

Online Resources 453

References 454

Chapter 13 The Potentially Harmful Effects of Theory in Social Work 459
Bruce A. Thyer

Some Harmful Effects of Bad Theory 461

Where Can We Go From Here? 476

Conclusion 481

Key Terms 482

Review Questions for Critical Thinking 482

Online Resources 483

References 484

Author Index 489

Subject Index 499

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Author Information

BRUCE A. THYER, PhD, LCSW, is Professor and former dean, College of Social Work, at Florida State University. He is the founding and current editor of the bimonthly journal Research on Social Work Practice.

CATHERINE N. DULMUS, PhD, is Professor, Associate Dean for Research, and Director of the Buffalo Center for Social Research in the School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and Research Director at Hillside Family of Agencies in Rochester, New York.

KAREN M. SOWERS, PhD, is Dean and Beaman Professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research interests include juvenile justice, sexuality, social work education, child welfare, evidence–based practice, and international social work practice.

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