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Mr. Rose the future of behavioral science is a program from the series human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service. The people you will hear today are Dr. Rentz is director of the Institute for Social Research of the University of Michigan. Dr. Angus Campbell director of the Survey Research Center also of the university. And Dr. Alvin F. Zander director of the research center for group dynamics at the university. And my name is Glenn Phillips. Gentlemen if I may I would like to merely throw the microphone over to you and ask first this one question. Are the social sciences strictly an American development Dr. liquored. The answer of course is No. It may be that the United States is more in the lead in the work being done in the social sciences than some of the other countries. But this in part was probably caused by the delay that other countries encountered because of the war. Research is being
undertaken in the social sciences and training at the graduate and professional level and universities throughout the world. We are in constant contact with these developments in other countries and one reason being that we have a number of visitors from many parts of the world who come and spend time at the ends to do it and we find that there is an lively and growing interest in Europe Asia and another South American other parts of the world and that the teaching and research is developing and these countries a lot the present time the volume probably still larger in the United States. Dr. Campbell I think you I think it's certainly correct to say that this is not exclusively an American development but. There is a peculiar American aspect of behavioral science I think which is in contrast to what one sees in Europe and that is the
tendency among Americans to insist on evidence social science or behavioral science in this country has tended to emphasize empirical studies where evidence is collected to support or demolish hypotheses. The European tradition is more historical more intuitive and while some of the behavioral science disciplines actually had their origins in the European universities. The kind of flowering that we're seeing now in this country towns I think to grow out of the the cultural values of our society the empirical inclination the need for evidence at least this seems to me to distinguish the kind of emphasis we see here from what one sees sometimes in the European universities. Dr. Zander both Dr. liquored and Dr. Campbell have used two different terms for one behavioral science the other social science. Is there a
differentiation between these two terms or are they much the same. I think behavioral science could be considered a much broader term to include many of the social sciences behavioral science could also include physiology behavior of the cells. How much wider field than we take into consideration in the Institute for Social Research where we do our work or do they or rather are the problems faced by not only the social sciences but the behavioral sciences different from the other sciences. Dr. look at. Well they the answer is yes and no. One of the problems we face is what constitutes acceptable evidence and the importance of emphasizing an objective approach to this problem as we study and the objective treatment of the.
Evidence is Dr. Campbell emphasizes fundamental to all science on the other hand whenever you start studying man as doctors and Randi kid you begin to have problems which are so much different in studying the problem of the behavior of sellers of the atom. We have to deal with the human response and human reaction and human cooperation and all the research we do. But we can be completely objective in our approach to it nevertheless and seek generalizations which have broad application and ready. There are also differences in the kinds of problems at least study as Zenner emphasized where trying to study the problems at least in as far as social science is concerned the problems of human behavior in a wide variety of different situations such as organizational problems problems of leadership and management these. Of course our unique problems in the area of social science.
There's another aspect of our field which is unique I think and that is that we are very often taking as a problem for scientific investigation an area of belief which is held very widely in the public. That is to say we may be investigating for example influences of child raising on the personality of a child. Now this isn't solely a scientific problem this is part of everyone's experience. And in contrast to the exact sciences let's say where very few people have the kind of highly developed information and vocabulary necessary to have even a vague understanding of those problems in the field of social science. One can say that virtually everybody is an expert of a sort because during his life experience he develops some belief some notions. He
absorbs the folk beliefs and much of the work that social science is doing some of it at least is in fact an inquiry about the very things which the population may have very strong opinions about. When you do a research project. Do you find it difficult for the public to accept something that may go against this belief that you were referring to. Now this is an important aspect of of the social science field the problem of reporting communicating social science results to a broad public. And I think what you're suggesting is in fact true that it's harder in many cases for the the general public to accept the results of social science than it is for the medical or physical sciences because in the medical and physical sciences they accept the authority of the expert they know they don't know anything about that. But in the area of human
behavior everyone has had some relevant experience everyone is likely to have developed some points of view. And if the social scientist turns up some finding which seems to run contrary to generally accepted belief it may be rejected and sometimes very hotly rejected. In addition there is the possibility that many people in our society feel that human behavior cannot be subject to laws. His behavior is indeterminant or capricious. If you can't construct explanations as to why people act the way they do so that in some cases this is a difficulty that the general field has to handle. I suppose related to that related to some of the things that Campbell has been saying is that people see that this social science is threatening because it implies social control or the possibility of using findings for controlling the fate of others. You know what there are pardon or at least social change. Yes
if social science begins to throw doubt on on on well established on and strongly held beliefs. This is in some cases threatening it implies that things should be changed. Very often people are threatened by change. We also face I think another aspect of the problem you're talking about Dr. Campbell in that we have a dilemma that most sciences don't have. If we come up with research findings that run contrary to ride held beliefs you have a this rejection that it doesn't fit the current experience current point of view and therefore it cannot be right. On the other hand if the research findings yield can evidence that supports some of the existing points of view it is a demonstration that there's nothing of value in the social science that Mary is yielding information that we already know. Actually what generally happens in any area of research where much work has
been done. It does both and it proves some proposition some points of view some generally held. Concepts have demonstrates that their value that there are valid and correct. In other instances it shows that they are incorrect or are true for any certain set of circumstances and at times we find it in my thinking although some that this isn't always a very tactful thing to do to ask people in advance of the actual publication of the research what the findings will show. Then it becomes clear that there are differences of opinions even among people who feel that there is substantial agreement as to what they now know are the propositions that they believe and we then are in a position of being able to show that the research supports some of the propositions runs contrary to others and elaborates makes clear where not of what circumstances some generalizations can be used where they can't be used. So I may use your term doctors under you said human behavior. I
just appreciate this. It is not felt this or that would not be the great amount of research being conducted that there is and might this be leading up to the next question one of the areas of research to get this information to educate the populace on this very fact. Would this be one of the research problems confronting the sciences. What design and might this be an area of research in itself. Oh it certainly is. I we could overplay the problem that I think we were mentioning that social science has run into and that people feel uneasy about. They're expecting its results and accepting them. On the other hand there is a great deal of evidence and probably a good deal more than we have mentioned here before that people need findings like this every society has its own social technology about how to raise children and how to run it its government how to run its business. And because they have this kind of know how they have an elementary social
science and they want answers in there. We could also I stress that they turn to us for many more answers than we could provide which in some cases can be a problem. But its coming back to your question. One of the matters that I think needs more careful consideration and treatment than weve been able to do give it is a matter of showing how the findings from the social sciences can be used and can be applied. On one hand we have the difficulty of people taking them and using them without really examining whether they're appropriate. You know the hand we have the instance of people ignoring them. Ideally I think what we might see rising is something like a social engineer or something like a professional person who makes use of many of the findings that are available in the social sciences and determines. Do they have the effect that he predicts they might have so that he is using them wisely to suggest a question that perhaps you and I want to dwell on for very long a social
engineer I think you said that will use the findings and this raises a question that I have been asked often during this project. What about manipulation by if you will of the money is this any thing to worry about at all Dr. Campbell I suppose manipulation of the many by the few is always something to worry about. I don't myself see that social science makes the problem any more or less acute. The you know. We throughout history have had examples of the many being manipulated by the few. I think the fact of the matter is. Come current with the development of social science. We have had a reduction and I don't mean to imply any causal relationship ship here. We've had a reduction in the extent to which the few are able to manipulate the many. I think you know this shows in our political scene I think it's very clear in our industrial
situation. I think it's even clear on the family level at least in this country that control if you wish to use that word is more now a matter of agreement and persuasion than it is the coercion or manipulation. I think this is a problem of also science the fact that you can say knowledge is power. And one of the facts of life is that knowledge can be as constructively or destructively you can be used to build atomic power plants and use radioactive isotopes to do the research to give us a better understanding of the technical processes and their health and their research that improves. Our knowledge of how to improve health. But that same knowledge of atomic energy or the release of atomic energy can be used to make create atomic bombs. Same problem applies if I believe in the social sciences that is without question as
knowledge is acquired it yields power. But if that knowledge is dispersed widely through the society through education then me ends at the. As Dr. Campbell indicated that the knowledge obtained through social science is more like to be used constructively than destructively that it will broaden the participation of people in the decisions affecting them rather than restricting them so that it will do just the opposite. Social Science Research will not yield manipulation so much as broad broader involvement in the decisions of a society or of any organizations within it. Might I move on then to a question that I alluded to a moment ago and that is what are some of the research problems remaining for the science social sciences behavioral scientists. Your term remaining is a very interesting word I think you almost could say what problems are that which very little research has been done. Front of the interesting facts about the social sciences is
thus far that a very small amount of resources being made available for this research it's growing but nevertheless it's still small. Of all the research and development funds spent in American universities in 1950 758 that this school year say 1958 about 2 to 4 percent was spent in the social sciences all the rest was spent in the physical biological engineering sciences so that we say that there are remaining problems is to suggest that we've already made substantial progress and the more I think more appropriate to say we've got a healthy start but not much beyond that it it wouldn't be possible for us to enumerate in a very complete list of the major problems in the little time we have I think it might be so. You know Doctor a way that one of the reasons Social Science is not growing despite its relatively modest situation at this time is that
our social problems are growing at such a rate. I think it's a question of necessity requiring the invention and the development of a of an irrelevant science. No one with any awareness of the world around him can fail to appreciate the fact that we are living in a much more turbulent tense crowded world than we used to. The simple fact of population growth and the tremendous urge toward urbanization has created these to reap tremendous social agglomerations and the terrific problems that are involved in so many people living in such close relationships with each other. I might just mention one area that I think has already been. Explored truthfully and will undoubtedly be followed up for in the future and that is the general problem of group memberships. They have the influence of group membership on the individual on the
extent to which the group makes the person the kind of person he is. The extent to which it controls his attitudes his decisions the extent to which it requires conformity and so on anyone will agree that the family as a primary group has all these kinds of influences and that is perhaps the most significant single influence in the development of the human personality. But we shouldn't overlook the fact that in adult life the individual becomes a member of a of a variety of other kinds of social groups of one sort or another. He becomes. A group member and his job both in the working group and in the union which is associated with the industrial organization he may become my a member of a political organization there are of course countless organizations. The people belong to. Now we know precious little about how
these group influences have their effects but we know enough to know that there are very significant and I would predict that this will be an area in which many social scientists will find interest in the coming years. Let me just add just a number of questions that I think interest people in the field of group dynamics. Many of them flow rather naturally out of the ones that Dr. Campbell's been describing. We know little about questions like this what determines the nature of relations between groups. Or when rips are part of a larger system. What circumstances make them strengthen the larger group or weaken it. How does the social environment of a group affect the kind of characteristics it has as an organization. Or how does the personality composition or characteristics of the members affect the nature of the group itself. One question that has
interested me that I think we should get into soon has flows is quite close to what Dr. Campbell was mentioning and how do groups affect the mental health of people do they advocate for individuals the way they should go about dealing with threatening situations. I've put these and abstract terms primarily because I think they can cut through a wide variety of types of institutions and organizations in which we live. There are some problems I believe we can illustrate where we're making today some important progress yet still in a already staged early relatively early stages but it ties together some of the things that have been said previously the emphasis burst of all that the social sciences represent an attempt to get ject of evidence the hard facts rather than using impressions or armchair approach to important problems. Take a poll. Problem of how do we organize human activity and effort to accomplish that job. Doesn't matter whether it's a business
enterprise a governmental agency a university hospital or a voluntary organization or a union. It's a fundamental problem upon which we are in the process now of collecting and have been what's been going on in this field for two or three decades on a small but growing scale and some important conclusions are coming from it. One fact that is I'm impressed by is this that if we take marriage going to endless trade and take operating units comparable departments doing the same job with the same technology and one department as shown by the measurements the company has as being the more productive or maybe a series of departments more productive than others we find that the leadership of these hype these more high producing departments or departments that accomplish more is follows a different pattern. It's a different kind of different uses a different pattern of leadership then is
then does is the case of the leaders the leadership in charge of units that produce less and significantly. We find that the. Leadership the kind of leadership which on average tends to yield this higher productivity is also the kind of leadership which yields better union management relationships more satisfaction on the part of people engaged in the work and among other things. We find that if you measure the amount of influence that is being exerted as to what goes on in those departments that the people lower level lower levels of the non-supervisory employ and lower levels of supervision are actually exercising more influence on the stations that occur in those departments than it is the case in the departments that are producing less. Moreover the managers in charge of these these more
productive departments while they have built a social system in which there is more influence exerted by lower levels they also have more influence more capacity to influence what goes on than in the department than do the managers who are in charge of less productive divisions but who have less influence themselves and whose subordinates have less and less as to what goes on in the department. In other words the authority part if you want to call it that is not fixed by producing magic by building a different management system are actually achieving the capacity to achieve greater coordination and more productive efforts. Better satisfaction and what social science is doing in this process is providing a mirror or measuring instruments if you want to call it that which provides a mirror to enable these more productive managers to see more clearly what they do and how it is that they are able to achieve a more effective social system which in turn is more productive and more satisfying to the people involved.
Let me broaden this statement a little We've been talking primarily about organizational situations rather restricted character. Many social scientists are interested now and will be in the future in such broad questions as how people play their role as citizens in the broad national society. To what extent and under what circumstances are they involved and concerned and informed about national international affairs. How do they translate the attitudes that they develop into political choices more broadly stated. To what extent is the generally accepted theory of representative government actually realized in practice. To what extent are the individuals who are chosen by the democratic process in fact representative of the people who send them to Congress. You know in this country what is the process of communication between the the electorate
and the representatives. How how does the electorate convey its general wishes to the representatives and how do the representatives communicate backward to the electorate. These are matters of vital concern in an area where national systems have become. The subject of international controversy and to add to that of course is the is the additional interest in the echelon of leadership itself. Leadership probably has never become a never been more important as a social phenomenon that it is right now both in the industrial situation as Dr. Lake has been mentioning and in the broad political scene. How are these people chosen How do they come to the positions of leadership. These these are problems which we will undoubtedly want to know more about.
Dr. Zander had turned to you for just a moment because time is running very short. How do you see the future trends as far as research is concerned for social sciences. I think in general what we will see in the social sciences is a greater development of their skill in developing explanations for why things happen the way they do. Ordinarily most of the fields away and her were required to begin with field studies with getting descriptive facts. We try to explain these facts. Let's develop theories. Eventually get to a stage of possible where we can take these into a laboratory setting. One of the changes that's been occurring since World War 2 in a broad field of social science has been scale in developing experimental methods where groups or large institutions can have experiments done with them. We can
actually determine what leads to what under controlled conditions. This I think would be one of the important changes that has been coming in the social sciences and will continue to grow. Dr. liquored and this is now going to be your closing moment here and you will conclude today's program. Well I've been impressed by an experience I've had no i asked few months. Two well-known physicists that I have had occasion to mate have mentioned to me that one of the important developments that lies ahead is the contribution and the work that social sciences need to do and a contribution they need to make. They've said in essence this that we can solve the day the problems in the physical sciences that we face. We've got the technology to know how we can move forward with them but that they're really tough and serious problems are in the social sciences. How do we live in this complex world of today live constructively with other people.
That there are problems at the local national international level. That car crying for research difficult extremely difficult problems and that the real hope for coming to a constructive solution and making and least progress toward that that solution these problems will depend upon the contribution of the social sciences and that it is to the social sciences that we must turn increasingly for an answer to these problems. Why thanks to Dr. Anstice literate Dr. Alvin Zander and Dr. Angus Campbell for their participation on this program. The last of the programs on behavioral science. We invite you to watch for other programs from this series on medical research. The challenge of aging and the aspects of mental health our engineer for this series has been Neil McLean and this is Glenn Phillips speaking thanking you for being with us at this time.
This program has been produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Behavioral science research
Future developments, part 2
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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, the second of two parts, looks at future developments in behavioral science. Guests are: Rensis Likert, Ph.D., University of Michigan; Angus Campbell, Ph.D., University of Michigan; and Alvin F. Zander, M.P.H., Ph.D., University of Michigan.
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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: Likert, Rensis, 1903-1981
Interviewee: Campbell, Angus, 1910-1980
Interviewee: Zander, Alvin Frederick, 1913-
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-26 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:44
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Chicago: “Behavioral science research; Future developments, part 2,” 1961-12-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
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APA: Behavioral science research; Future developments, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from