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The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant he made from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters and infant science a program from the series human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service with special assistance from the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan. These programs have been developed from interviews with men and women who have the too often unglamorous job of basic research. Research in medicine the physical sciences social sciences and the behavioral sciences. Occasionally you will hear what may seem like strange or unfamiliar sounds. These are the sounds of the participants office his laboratory or clinic where the interviews were first conducted. Today we will meet the participants as they speak. My name is Glenn Phillips. A new
science has appeared and infant science. It applies the scientific method that is examination measuring and testing to man himself. It is the behavioral sciences as medicine for example draws from many sciences knowledge pertaining to the health of man. So then does behavioral science draw from many disciplines the knowledge that each can contribute to the problems of understanding the behavior of man. What are the aims of the behavioral science. For that answer and for more specific answers to what the science is we go to the scientists themselves. First in answer to the question Do you have a theory of Behavioral Science Professor Harry Helsa of the University of California said. I wouldn't say that there is any single general theory of behavioral science. There have been general theories of behavior. Almost everybody
now is familiar with the psychoanalytic approach. We've had behaviorism which has been a general approach to problems of behavior. And so on. The tendency now is to develop specific theories for specific areas or specific problems. And there I think we are going pretty much the way of the natural sciences. In general psychology today is almost universally regarded as the science of behavior. And behavior is a sufficiently broad term to encompass. The. Actions and performances of not only humans at all age levels but also of sub human and even sub mammalian species.
Probably the all most general type of theory today in behavioral sciences is learning theory so-called sense behavioral scientists have to deal with the products all the learning since the way most of us act is a product of the culture the family the particular experiences to which we have been exposed. Learning theory tends to be about as close a general theory of behavioral science as anything we have. At least learning theory or certain types of learning theory have been taken over by other people in the social sciences for example by anthropologists by psychiatrists and others. And this was the belief of a practicing psychiatrist Dr Philip Hugh Roche in
Philadelphia. Well as a representative of a medical discipline or better a medical psychological discipline I can only relate to you do that through the. Our own theory of behavior we attempt to explain it within within that theory and that this would be identified as a psychiatric or psychoanalytic theory that we attempt to understand the motivations of behavior. We do not attempt to explain why people commit acts that are antisocial or why people behave in any manner as a matter of fact. But we feel that we have sufficient theoretical constructions supported by
sufficient clinical observation. Of behavior to allow us to attempt at least to explain people how people come about to do as they do so that the answer to your question will be yes that we have a special body of theory that we feel enables us to not only to to analyze behavior but in some measure to predict it from the University of Utah and an anthropologist view we heard from Professor Robert Anderson. Some investigators have felt the need for and an all embracing over embracing theory to cover the science of psychology sociology anthropology breast physiology.
The University of Michigan has been the leader in this in this movement from my own point of view. I don't find the need at present of establishing a new super science. I think we ought to develop as far as we can with theoretical positions of our separate sciences. If I have strong feelings about this matter lies in this that there ought to be recognized an area called cultural science as opposed to an area called biological or sociological or psychological science. We often thought up our own Bally licks and then look for the relations between them rather than to establish a holding company the signs with a new theory. It seems clear that behavioral science is a multidisciplinary effort to study the actions of man and their relation one to another and their environment. I asked Dr. Ralph Tyler who is director of the Center for Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences in Palo Alto California. If I was correct in my belief that this was indeed a multidisciplinary approach
you Commander talk about behavioral science as though it were one field of study and it is run in the sense that it is an effort to understand how and why human beings behave as they do. Or you may think of it as a collection of Sciences ranging from the biological the neurological for example trying to understand the brain and how it operates. So show concern with an understanding of the psychology of motivation why people learn and how they learn and what happens to the individual in this connection. Social in the sense of understanding more of the effect of groups upon human behavior we've talked a good deal for example these days about the danger of too much conformity. The organization man was a volume that brought to our attention the danger that individuals would lose their individual creativity and originality by being submerged in the total organization. Now all this range.
From the biological through the social and including mathematics as a tool to help understand and to bring order out of the data. All this range can be thought of as a collection of Sciences which together can bring more understanding of human behavior here at the center we try each year to bring in people from this total range. They have some things in common they are concerned with some common problems for example almost every year there has been a group of six to 10 people whose primary concerns were about mental health. Understanding more about the social factors in mental health as well as the biological What what is there about the brain that may result in mental illness. What is there about the individual's own strivings and his own psychology that may affect his health. What is there about the society in which he lives the family the groups to which he belongs that may bring greater tensions and make it difficult for
him to maintain stability and to be healthy in that sense. We have also quite often had groups that were primarily concerned with the study of language behavior. How do we get a language what is the problem of communicating from one group of people to another over the boundaries of different languages. What are the rays in which the nature of the language of a people determines how they think in the sort of conclusions they can reach. Because since we do think with language the structure of that language makes a good deal of difference in determining the limits of the kind of thinking we can do. Typically two we have had people that have been concerned with the the more basic problems of our ecology that is higher as a human being. React in different kinds of environments to a fact. Does one kind of
environment have in contrast to another. What are the conditions required for a person to be able to use his environment effectively rather than to be controlled by it so that he becomes just a pawn rather than a real human being who can do things on his own. We've often had persons that are here together as groups interested in the problems of the economic development of underdeveloped areas because economic development is not just getting knowledge about production and distribution it is not just getting economics. It also affects the kinds of beliefs people have the sort of practices they follow at home and in their social institutions the kind of education they carry on understanding all of this in relation to how a nation may move ahead to increase its productivity and to become able to afford the kind of standards of living that make for health and well-being. These are other illustrations so that I believe we
would say that there is as time goes on an increasing understanding of these various facets and we are getting in that sense a greater unified science of human behavior. But at the present time we have a group of Sciences each approaching the problems from its own points of view and each giving only part of the knowledge that we need with the many disciplines playing such a large role in this study. What will be demanded of the scientists of the future. Will specialisation continue or will a greater degree of proficiency in several areas be required. Dr. Max Milliken of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated yes this is a very very difficult problem. The question confronting a man who wants to be a behavioral scientist shall he specialize as shall he. In one of the traditional disciplines shall he attempt to learn a little bit about all of the disciplines. There are terrible dangers in both directions. If he's really trying to
understand human behavior human behavior is inherently complex. It's partly psychological It's partly sociological it's partly political it's partly economic and if you're trying to understand a society or even a small institution or even an individual he really ought to know something about all of these disciplines to get a full understanding. On the other hand these disciplines are themselves. Each of them complex involve a detailed detailed modes of analysis of their own. And he's in serious danger if you get sort of a smatter of each of them and not understanding any of them. So there is this awful dilemma that faces all of us I'm faced with it myself personally because the area which I'm mainly concerned with is trying to understand what's going on in the underdeveloped countries. This requires an understanding of the psychology of the transition from traditional society to modernity it requires an understanding of the political process of the social process
of a great deal of the psychological strains that these things involve as well as an understanding of the things that I learned in my own professional training about the economics of economic development. On the other hand if you try to cover all of these fields you neither understand economics nor the psychology of any of the other things so that what I think is called for really is a kind of compromise. I think it's going to continue to be necessary for each professional who wants to become a behavioral scientist to pick a discipline which will be his prime specialty and to develop thorough and complete competence in that discipline. I think you must then be exposed to enough of the other social science disciplines so that at least who knows what they're about and knows what he doesn't know about them. And then I think we've got to move into a period when research in the social sciences will be very much more largely group
research and much less individual research than in the past research in which you get a series of people each of whom not only knows one discipline thoroughly but understands enough of its connections with the other disciplines so that he can communicate with the specialists in other fields and work jointly with them on the same subject Dr Raymond Bauer of Harvard said. That's already happened. I got my Ph.D. 10 years ago. Even if I remembered all of the math I had. Statistics that I had at the time I would still be hopelessly outdated. If I wanted to be up to date today I have to take a year off to study mathematics. Are we perhaps entering an era that we could call one of the scientific liberal arts education. But I think we are. It's interesting that the even within science and engineering there's a recognition that knowledge is changing so fast that the
person trained only as a neuro specialist is likely to find himself obsolete halfway through his career. We are finding this and the Russians are finding this here at MIT for example. We are in the process of a radical revision of our curriculum which is exactly the opposite direction from specialization. When a man came here to study electrical engineering 10 15 years ago he had to choose as a freshman or a sophomore one of five or six or seven options in which he would concentrate intellectual electrical engineering he'd be a power man or he'd be an Electron tube man or he'd be a circuit man or something of this kind. Now our whole electrical engineering curriculum has been completely revised. Everybody takes the same thing and they take mostly fundamental physics Fundamental mathematics. And enough of the sort of basic understanding of the sciences so that as engineers they can specialize later but when their particular specialization begins to be obsolete because of new
scientific developments they won't be lost now exactly the same thing I think is going to apply to the social sciences I think. One of the things it means is inevitably that the period of education is going to have to be extended still more. I think people will have to begin their narrow specialization at a later stage even than they have in the past because their background knowledge of fundamentals and rather across the board has got to be very much more profound. In Redwood City California at the end Pax corporation Dr. Alex babblings had this to say. I think that. In the social sciences more and more of the problems that are. Interesting and exciting tend to lie between are not wholly within one IQ Demick disciplined traditional discipline. And I think already there have been some some changes in universities. One can find now
men who are majoring in psychology who have a background of engineering and this is considered quite helpful. The role of mathematics and psychological theorizing has grown considerably and more graduate students are getting a much better background in mathematics I think this is this is inevitable. Actually that question would be yes. This is not to say that we can pin our hopes entirely on interdisciplinary research. Most of which takes place in groups. Composed of individuals who have had their basic training in a given discipline and such groups. The problem of communication become rather difficult. I think you're right in suggesting that in the long run a broader education. For. The researcher is going to be necessary. And once again on the same subject Professor Bower spoke.
I think we're caught in the same bind that everybody's caught and there's some pay off for being broader and there's some payoff for being there or I suspect that the. Period of training will increase. This just seems to be creeping up all over the place. And that there will be some attempt to make people both more intensive and more extreme. But. I don't think it's possible let's say that. The payoff will be in either one direction or the other. Are you going to have some people who are going to have spread out and some are going to have to. Continue to be know and work very intensively. Now I think that the developments of Michigan. And General Systems Theory are an example of really spreading out. That is to work and. To work on the line that is being done at Michigan by Dr Miller and his associates. Why you have to. Be part biologist sociologist physiologist psychologist.
What they're doing is. Studying the characteristics of simple systems. On a whole variety of levels of organization and Professor George Homans of Harvard University's sociology department. Made this remark in the value of multidisciplinary study. I can't see that it's done any great harm. What do you think is going to do any great good. One of the behavioral sciences perhaps the most advanced of the behavioral sciences is. Economics. And it seems to me clear that as a result of the. Developments in economics over the last. 30 years or so there is a better understanding of. How the economic system works and what's necessary to keep it in in some kind of. Equilibrium without. Too tremendous ups and downs. A
better knowledge of this and wave we had before. So I think if. If this is something that we value and most of us do why economics has certainly been a good thing. I think the I think the same thing is probably true of psychology that where a lot more humane by my standards in. Dealing with the mentally sick and we have been in the past I don't know how many. Positive cures the knowledge of modern psychology has brought about. But the general way of understanding and treating people has by my standards certainly improved and I think that modern psychology has from Freud on has got a great deal to pat itself on the back for Professor Homans also spoke of the way by which one discipline might compliment another sociology conceivably it would be of benefit to.
Psychology because after all. People are always working as a living as individuals in social context and a better understanding of the kinds of social pressures a person might have to adjust to. Would clearly be or should be a a benefit to the psychologist who is trying to produce. Individuals with better mental health. In the same way out. Of. A cycle of sociology. Because it's my subject I speak of it conceivably could. And I think it has man an advantage too. Two well economics and teaching economics the. Variety of different kinds of. Power for the behavior of goods that. Economics. Play deals with. One locale where much of the work is
being conducted a is the center for the Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences in Palo Alto California. Dr. Ralph Tyler who is the director of the center discuss their work and explained their aims in this way. The Senate approved van study in the behavioral sciences was established six years ago. Through a grant made by the Ford Foundation. The purpose of the center is to provide a place where each year some 50 outstanding scholars and scientists studying human behavior can come from their universities and other research centers to work both individually and in groups upon important problems in understanding human behavior better. The center provides a place where during the year that man is here he has no other responsibilities and study and research. He has no teaching or administrative responsibilities. It also provides him a chance to be in contact
with other scholars and scientists from other parts of this country and from abroad who are working on the same problems he is so that they can learn from each other during the time they are here. A point which is often been touched upon is whether the need for less on people between various disciplines might be beneficial. And this was discussed by Dr. MILLIKEN. Yes I think that's right I think they do have to be more people like that although again I wouldn't carry the division of labor too far. I would say I'd rather put it a slightly different way. I think it would be better if the. Oh I read most of the individuals in gauged in scientific research social or natural were generalists for a somewhat larger fraction of their time than has been the case traditionally in the past and specialists for a somewhat smaller fraction. I think they stood still exceedingly desirable for individuals to develop a specialty because only by
working through in detail the very hard business of trying to be as precise as possible about a relatively narrow area. Can you get a clear picture of the limits of knowledge in the areas that you don't clearly understand. One other thing I'd like to say about this that I think is very important and that is that we mustn't be rigid in defining what our specializations are. One of the ways in which we get more interconnections between disciplines is for people to develop new specialties which borrow a little from one another from another. Just as is happening currently it's now perfectly respectable to be a bio physicist. A few years ago this was much less respectable You were either a biologist or you were a physicist. But now by knowing a little less physics and a little less biology but a great deal more about certain of the areas where the two overlap you develop a specialization which is just as narrow in a way as the parents from which it sprung but which fills in a Gap builds a bridge
between those two. In response to a question Is science entering a dawn of a new era. Professor Homans commented I don't know. By the end of this year I should think it might be pretty dormant but I just think the dorm was likely to be coming. I do not despair of that. If as Professor Homans implies science is flirting with mysteries of man and then the future should indeed be filled with many new and interesting discoveries. What can they do for world peace. We contemplate the president dies now or is asked for a science for peace. The issues which can be attacked by behavioral science are the human ones whose solution can guide world affairs along the course from Cold War to ultimate peace. These are the most crucial of the many applied problems to which the sciences of man address themselves. There's been almost no systematic research in behavioral science concerning international relations and diplomacy
negotiation the prevention of war or the operation of arms control systems. Yet the most striking diplomatic successes have been mixtures of technology in politic. Such was our Open Skies proposal and our atoms for peace plan human technologies can also be employed. Behavioral scientists could make a specific contribution in their ads. The strength of a nation depends on its technical immaterial asset and on the scientific research which constantly expands these physical resources. But national strength is equally dependent upon human factors which determine how effectively physical resources are you. The hell the morale and the motivation of the population as well as the formal and informal organization of the society the well-being and happiness of its citizens are goals of a democratic society rather than mere means for an attainment of greater material strength and the productivity of society is dependent upon all these human factors which are the subject of study of
Behavioral science research
What is behavioral science?
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University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program seeks a definition for behavioral science. Guests include: Ralph Tyler, Ph.D., Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; Raymond A. Bauer, Ph.D, Harvard; and Dr. Max Millikan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Series Description
A documentary series on behavioral science and its role in understanding human health.
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
Interviewee: Anderson, Robert
Interviewee: Helson, Harry, 1898-1977
Interviewee: Tyler, Ralph W. (Ralph Winfred), 1902-1994
Interviewee: Roche, Philip Q.
Interviewee: Millikan, Max F.
Interviewee: Bauer, Raymond Augustine, 1916-1977
Interviewee: Bavelas, Alex
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:01
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Chicago: “Behavioral science research; What is behavioral science?,” 1961-06-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023,
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APA: Behavioral science research; What is behavioral science?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from