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The poing 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 research and the government's role in behavioral 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 of 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. These are the sounds of the participants off it is laboratory or clinic where the interviews were first recorded. Today we will meet the participants as they speak. My name is Glenn Phillips. The present
situation facing our country calls for an evaluation of the role and potential contribution of behavioral science. This is the combined endeavor of many fields investigating all aspects of behavior leading to understanding of human beings as individuals and in social relations. Behavioral Science therefore involves many fields of Investigation ranging from anthropology to zoology research findings apply themselves to every human endeavor from advertising to government from military to education. Some of these sciences are still in the very earliest stages of development. But American research in these fields as a clear lead over other nations whose investigations are restricted by political dogma behavioral science has demonstrated its usefulness to human welfare and to national security. Its further development could increase its contribution in areas of international relations defense and national potential. What
then are some of the problems that confront the researcher. What role might the government perform in further expansion and exploration of their endeavors. To further the already considerable accomplishments in behavioral science aid and assistance is required in many forms not the least of these is financial support. I asked Dr. Max Milliken of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology if he felt there was enough money available to conduct sufficient investigation. He said No I certainly don't think it is. I think this is a it's a difficult question because the answer there is an answer on the other side I have friends who believe that you couldn't usefully spend much more on the social sciences because. How much you can usefully spend depends on the number of really competent people around to spend it. And what was the development of substantial support for the social sciences from a lot of the major
foundations. The argument on the other side would be that today almost any really first class man with a bright idea that wants to work on it can find support for doing it somehow. This doesn't quite answer the problem because I still think that for two reasons you need more resources available over a long period of time for social science research we need the research desperately. We need to induce more people into these fields. The natural sciences are a popular area now for people to go into but we're increasing the numbers of university educated people the numbers of people who potentially can enter the supply of trained scientists at an enormous rate. We ought to be attracting more of these people into social science. And this in turn is partly a function of the amounts of money available. The other point I'd like to make is that there are that
social science research as contrasted with natural resends research has been thought to be in large part in the past a matter for the individual working in his study outside of Experimental Psychology and a few other fields where there's been some laboratory work. The notion has been that all you need money for really is the salary of a first class man and this is provided by universities anyway. I think we need more imaginative fairly large scale programs group research where you need funds to bring people together to get them to working jointly on a common task and increasingly in the future the social sciences themselves are going to be needing more elaborate analytic tools which themselves are expensive computers simulators and all this kind of thing so that I feel that a substantial increase in the total volume of spending on social science research is is definitely in the cards.
A government appointed committee studying this problem issued this statement. We must assume the probability of a breakthrough in the control of the attitudes and beliefs of human beings through exceptionally effective educational techniques drugs subliminal stimulation manipulation of motives or some as yet recognised medicine. This could be a weapon of great power in communist hands unless comparable advances in the West produce effective countermeasure. The author of this particular statement was Professor Raymond Bauer of Harvard University who commented further. The main statement we made at that time was that we were presently. Far ahead of the Soviet Union and the use of the social sciences. And I warned then and later argument that there were signs on the horizon that the Soviet Union was becoming aware of the potentialities of behavioral sciences. And in the last couple of years I think this.
Sense this intuition of mine is proven to be correct in the field of economics where they have really done very little they have now become very active in the. Development of. Planning for the development of the application of advanced economic techniques in. Psychology they are beginning to look at in the industrial psychology again they had a very well and very well developed industrial psychology to about 1935 when they scrapped it on grounds of partially jurisdictional fights and Lord knows what. But they're now becoming very interested in it. And I think that they probably will. Will become interested in the psychology of propaganda which they have been. They will be interested in the sociology of organizations. Which
they will need in order to make this system run more efficiently. Saying that it's missed by a lot of people is because the Soviet Union was able to move ahead this rapidly as it did. It is assumed that. They operated very efficiently actually what they did was to hold consumption and to reinvest capital a very high rate so that they could develop very rapidly but there are very gross inefficiencies in the system which anybody can see from a reasonably close look and which is which are freely acknowledged by the leaders of the system. So I would guess that they have a lot to gain from. A sort of generalized use of social science now as an improvement in the system. Dr. Ralph Tyler spoke of the difficulty in achieving support for these studies. It is more difficult to get support for studies in human behavior. And I have found two reasons commonly. Involved in this.
One is the fact that. The study of human behavior is a much more recent field of study and it has not gone so far as physics and chemistry for example so that we have. And infant science as it were and human behavior and this means that a. Person's are not so clear about the results that are going to accrue from studies as they are in knowing that physical science studies have already get given us great knowledge in such spectacular things as represented by the development of rockets and atomic energy and the like. The second reason is that. Studying human behavior is in a sense studying ourselves. And it is not always. Pleasant to discover that human beings are not always rational. They do not always behave wisely and that we ourselves in understanding ourselves need
to learn how to educate ourselves better to put restraints on our behavior to. Behave more rationally. If we are to gain from what we learn about human behavior and this is troublesome it involves sometimes results that people hate to to believe are true because it means that they themselves are sometimes in difficulty with but yet to be done. There have been dramatic achievement Dr. Tyler said. In my personal opinion they too. Areas of research in which we have made the greatest strides have been first in understanding the great importance for our future human behavior of the very early childhood years. From the time of birth. Until three or four years of age. It is a period which has much influence upon how. Well only the total human organism
develops. This is not only true biologically the early nutrition having much to do with the size and quality of the physical frame and the functioning physically of a child and an adult. But it is also true psychologically if a child does not have early experience in learning does not have opportunity to be curious does not have to learn how to react with other human beings in the early years. It is very difficult to get. Great improvement thereafter so that the identification of the early years as being very important and getting much more knowledge about child development in the early years I think is one of the great contributions and this is expressed in a good many materials now available to parents in child rearing and in their early nutrition. Second area. That has been I think of tremendous importance is to recognise.
That. The individual human being does exist in a society he is in a family in a community. And that he cannot be understood. And what happens to him cannot be understood without understanding the family. It is for example shown when you get into the field of delinquency that in a typical city. There is a core group of families that produce 60 percent or more of the delinquency problems that it is in that family and in its actions that have had much to do with the way how the individual behaves and children that have been removed from such families in an early age to develop in other families have behaved quite differently so that we have learned the both that the individual is greatly affected by the social group and we are learning the way in which the individual himself can help to affect that social group so that knowledge about early childhood and knowledge about the functioning of human beings in
the small groups to which they belong. Seems to me have been two of the greatest areas of research production that has been meaningful in helping us in the last 50 years. Dr Tyler also commented on what lies ahead in the field of behavioral science. How can we as adults keep growing and learning after 35 or 40. As long as we were a young country the average age and because we had a high death rate the average age of our population was only in the mid 30s. Now we have reached a point where more and more of us are living longer and longer. The problem of maintaining a society like this which is changing so is to have each age group move on to keep learning new things and understanding new things and we have learned a lot about educating children. We're just beginning to face the problems of how are we as adults can keep on learning and not get in the ruts
so that each day is just like the last day. How we can acquire new knowledge and skills and keep abreast of the times so that our order people. Are fully as competent to deal with life at their age as our youngsters are to deal with life at their age. Dr. Philip Hugh Roche mentioned the future of behavioral science by discussing one question which interests him. Ideally I would say that one question should be this. Positive science change child rearing practices has to produce adults with a higher order of rational social behavior. This is a hard thing to answer but I think we can talk about it. It occurred to me that there is a serious question as whether science itself can create a set of ethical beliefs.
In other words those those prescriptions that govern the personal conduct of people because traditionally mankind has always been governed by something imposed upon him. You know if he if our knowledge increases to the extent that when we impose upon the individual correct prescriptions that enable him much as he is a child to grow up to have these basic impulses towards rational behavior that we will solve our problem we have and would improve matters. This is the thing is that this is the big question. Here. I think the big question is that science as we use it today is not used for the purpose of improving human relations but is merely used in the sense that we improve what we
make and consume. So we have yet to reach that point to where science can really be more than a medium of existence but also will be an implement for for our ethics. And it may be that science alone cannot do this. It may be that there must be will there's an ethical movement that would be in some way. And then if I had with with modern religion this is the thing that occurs to me my thought in the light of what I've said here that if the behavioral sciences can define those positive elements. Of human growth and eventually effect changes which should produce more rational beings with people with capable of a larger self-awareness and social responsibility and capable of living
I think we might be near this goal that I speak of. Always and inevitably the public must accept the findings of research. It must be aware of the need for research. DR ALEX Babolat spoke of the acceptance by the public. I would have no difficulty with the idea that the research ought to be allowed wherever it's clearly not in conflict with some immediate public interest whether if this appears to be the case or not to engage in public relations activities to change the public view. There is one question. Educating the public. In a sense has two
meanings for me. One is to do whatever is possible to change their view about something you would like to do but which the public feels ought not to be done. But it has another meaning and that is educating the public by making available to them findings. Now I think the second one is fairly innocent. It seems to me that information is probably always beneficial from the public who is in reality the government must come support. Three men Dr. Milley conducted Tyler and Dr Roche had these feelings. First Dr. Milliken My own feeling is. The government should play a larger role for two reasons. I think in the first place the governmental support for
that as the larger foundation as the larger fortunes are receding into the background as private sources of substantial funds for educational activity are receding. That an increasing portion of the support of education and research in general has got to come through public channels. There is another reason I myself believe that the social sciences can make a much bigger contribution and they have in the past to the specific objectives and purposes of government. Let me give you one illustration. We spend enormous amounts of money on weapons research in our defense establishment billions of dollars. Now what is the purpose of all this weapons research. We've reached the stage where we don't want to fight wars anymore in fact we know it would be absolutely disastrous to fight major wars on any kind of scale. It would wipe out everything we want. This means that the basic purpose of weapons research is to
deter the fighting of wars. And what does this mean. This means to influence men's minds to influence the decisions that they take both the decisions of potential enemies and the decisions of potential allies. And yet we spend virtually nothing on the social science problem of analyzing what the attitudinal effect of our weapons systems development are. Are we in fact producing the kinds of weapons which in fact are going to influence men's minds in the directions in which we want them to. This is partly a problem of what effects the weapons will actually produce and whether we're really stronger than the Soviet Union in directions A B C and D. But it's also very much a function of what they think about all of this. What consequences. This weapons development has for attitudes toward the United States and decisions made about international relations and military policy in other countries. On the same subject Dr. Tyler commented.
On the development of knowledge and research. It's something that is relatively recent to mankind. There have been. For many generations individuals who in their spare time of stop to get new knowledge and they have been supported us often by their own efforts or by the patronage of bio but people with the support of the universities has involved some research but in it has been about 50 years since the government has consciously recognized the contribution that could be made to public welfare by supporting research in the first research supported on a substantial scale by government has been in the field of agriculture with the passage of the act some 50 years ago. Providing for agricultural experiment stations where by the careful study problems of agriculture we have been able greatly to increase the productivity of Agriculture hybrid corn to site
run at us trace and this alone has produced many millions of dollars of return and the research was largely supported through the federal government. Now with a development of the Second World War there has been a great increase in the support of research by the government in fields relating to national security because the government is responsible for our national security and because the people in the Department of Defense have seen the need for having much knowledge if they were better to plan and develop the defense of the United States. But Iran will it has come a recognition that by similar methods namely the support efforts to get knowledge there is support of research. We have been able to solve many other problems our own public health services never stray ssion of this. Since the Second World War there has been a great increase in the funds provided by the Congress to carry on research in medicine with all these troublesome diseases ranging
from cancer and heart disease and the problems of mental health. But increasingly we must recognize that. Normally the federal government has resources that can be easily tapped to make it possible for the American people to move ahead through having greater knowledge not only about their defense and about their own health but also about other problems that are involved in being a productive healthy and happy country. In Philadelphia Dr. Roche commented. Well I suppose because of the scope of present day problems in behavior and the scope of the machinery required to meet it we really have to be subsidized by extremely well founded private sources or by the
government itself. I would prefer that it were supported by private means. I think I pointed out to earlier that. We live in an age in which there is an increasing centralization of government. And this is a tendency which we should watch. And as the government acquires more power it also acquires more of the resources including the resources of science and the tendency for governments are to perpetuate themselves. And I would be I would think that we have to be mindful of this all of the time. We've seen something of this unparalleled in industry that if we can think of a large industry as being what we see think of interest
industry in this country as being a kind of a confederation of a number of large industries we have in a sense a kind of government insofar as the power that is in power exerted by these vested interests that we can see where these vested interests have employed the behavioral sciences particularly in dealing with personnel and that this this can readily become a kind of bureaucracy that eventually reduces the employees to a kind of a statistic. I call your attention to the excellent chapter in William White's organisation in which he points out these tendencies and to which he had an appendix giving the reader instructions
as to how to conform to the expectations of the personnel department in order to pass the psychological tests that are imposed upon him as a potential employee. A similar vein I would think that in psychiatry I would not like to see the time come where maybe justice would be turned over to a committee of experts goes within the within the scope of governmental practices as we know them in this country. What you cannot expect any degree of actually lends to people who would be employed by the government.
This sounds somewhat disparaging of those men who do work in government service but the fact remains that the government service does not induce men of talent and dedication. Or rather I should take that back. The government doesn't. The government induces people dedication but not necessarily have time to get into the services. And I I would not like to see the day come where a group of individuals called scientists would be a panel of experts to determine the personal liberties of an individual who happened to be a prisoner. Because these instant these bureaucracies tend to become fixed and institutionalized after a while and tend to lag upon the advances that science makes in the meantime
so that I think that the mischief that comes out of that could be very great. Yet I am I really committed as a as a educated person you know disciplined and one of the disciplines myself. I do believe that we should participate particularly in Penology but I mention mention my reservations only by way of bringing up cautions as to perhaps some of the pitfalls that may come with that kind of. Manipulation of the individuals behind signs next week you will hear further discussion. One point raised by Dr Roche Dr Melican and Dr Tyler as we deal with ethics and manipulation. The next programme from the series. Human behavior
Behavioral science research
Research and government's role
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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 explores research and the government's role in behavioral science studies. Guests are: Max F. Millikan, Ph.D.; Raymond A. Bauer, Ph.D.; Ralph W. Tyler, Ph.D; Philip Q. Roche, M.D.; and Alex Bavelas, Ph.D.
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A documentary series on behavioral science and its role in understanding human health.
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
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
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-22 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:39
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Chicago: “Behavioral science research; Research and government's role,” 1961-10-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
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APA: Behavioral science research; Research and government's role. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from