thumbnail of Behavioral science research; Future developments, part 1
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
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. The future of behavioral science. The 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. The people who are here today are members of the staff of the Mental Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan and professors in various departments representing the fields of psychiatry psychology mathematical biology and generic and physiology. They are Dr. James Miller Dr. Anatol Rapaport. Dr. Ralph W. Girard and Dr. Merrill M. flood. And my name is Glenn Phillips. Gentlemen I'm going to practically turn this next few moments over to you with just one question. What do you see for the future of behavioral science.
Dr. Miller first of all I think we should begin by defining behavioral science. There are other terms for it. One of the common ones is the sciences of man though sometimes it concerns itself with the behavior of animals other than human beings. Sometimes it is thought to include primarily the social sciences. Although actually important contributions are made not only in the biological sciences including medicine but also in the physical sciences. I think perhaps the best way to view this field is as part of a number of different disciplines which would represent different departments ordinarily in universities perhaps as many as 10 or 15 of them. In other words some of psychology most of it is in the behavioral sciences. A large part of sociology most of anthropology is in the behavioral sciences as well.
Some parts of areas and public health and ecology. We would expect that a relatively small part of Economics and Political Science would be included in behavioral science at present. And yet clearly there are disciplines that should be included. On a biological side there are a series of fields and specialty areas including the physiology of biochemistry psychopharmacology physiological psychology the study of brain behavior and in the physical sciences we find work in computers and cybernetics. The study of feedback mechanisms certainly much of mathematics applied in the applied field is finding relevance to behavioral science. And I don't think we should end the list without including a reference to the humanistic studies which are not in themselves sciences and perhaps therefore not strictly in behavioral science but which nevertheless have some sort of relevance
to the field because many of the ideas and concepts about the nature of man and nature of society which arise from humanity's past and present are then studied in an experimental fashion often a quantitative fashion in the behavioral sciences with linguistics and the transition between the two very clearly. In the field of mental health you find another sort of transition. Many people are concerned with the role of religion in mental health. They religionists ordinarily as a humanist or perhaps always. And yet obviously the values and attitudes and beliefs of man are related to his emotional and intellectual advancement. But then you would certainly go along with the description given to behavioral science by Dr. Ralph Tyler in Palo Alto that this is truly an infant science. Anything that Dr. Tyler says about the behavioral sciences is likely to be right. And that certainly is one of the reasons that it seemed desirable to use this
term is that the social sciences were not understood very well publicly by our government representatives and so on. Because frequently the term social implications are overtones of socialism. And this of course never was the necessary implication of social science one doesn't need to be a socialist or even a political liberal in order to work in the fields of social science. However in order to find a term which sounded more objective and less likely to be associated with one or another economic or political point of view behavioral science came into use. Also it was a necessary number of us thought to include the concept of biology and the role of biology in the term and certainly the behavioral sciences rest very heavily on the underpinnings
and the advances in the biological sciences. These are some of the reasons why this new term has been developed in order to include this wide range of fields. Let me pick this up and say a word more about the past and laid on and the future on. I suppose a simple statement is behavioral sciences that fragment of the total body of science which is concerned with an understanding of human behavior because it is primarily human behavior that is concerned. One area in biology that Dr Miller didn't explicitly mention would be that the field of animal behavior he thought geez it's now cold which also feeds into the total area of behavioral sciences. One can argue whether to call behavioral science or behavioral sciences. I think I prefer the latter for reasons that will become clearer as I go on. Oh right now you know I
backtrack just a bed and give you my mental image of the whole story. Science. Grew up from man's need to solve the problems of living in the world in which he found himself. He had to know something about the land in which he dwelt and from this came. Geometry. Some of the elements of physics and he had a new set know something about the substances era from which came chemistry. He had found himself in the void poisons and they had botany coming and domestication in the heavens animal husbandry agriculture I grant to me this whole group of Sciences and the nutrition he had to keep himself well and from this has come the group of Sciences that were originally primitive medical war and with the advancing numbers of observed and established facts and metal. Scaffoldings that put these
together. One had a crystallizing out from this and the physiology pharmacology and. Maybe chemistry and all the rest of these things. Well now if you think of the existing divisions of knowledge as crystallized I'm sometimes inclined to say embalmed in the existing departments and universities. Then you have the original attempt to solve real problems coming out these departments in universities when hour by having essentially solved the problem of living in a physical and having essentially solved the problem of our biological needs an enemy is it has been possible for human beings to increase in numbers and concentration and urbanization to such a vast extent and with the world shrinking and with communication and transportation so on. That our. Existing major problems are in the area of man living with man. Now
man is living with man are essentially problems of man's behavior. His internal mechanisms of behavior how he gets to be this way I was personality is established why he gets angry is cooperative and the interaction of men as pairs and small groups in large groups and in great societies nations so that the major problems confronting mankind today are those resulting from man's success at the material violent biological level and now faces at the psychological sociological and general behavioral levels that for there can be no possible question of the great importance in the future of what are collectively called the behavioral sciences not just one more word now. Let somebody else take this ball. The problems that now face man in this area are in turn fried mandible into particular problems there is the problem of
stress the problem of. Delinquency the problem of addiction and the problem of aging the problem of traffic if you will the problem of war and the numbers of particular problems and around each of these problems there begins to crystallize a number of men from other separate disciplines to begin with who are promoting her backgrounds and their skills and their headdress and developing a new body of coherent now and interpretation in any one of a whole new set of variants. If you think in the original disciplines of the vertical bars then these new ones are horizontal bars crossing the others and making use of a minute. That's why I prefer the term behavioral sciences because I will come to be a science and probably a university department one of which already practical here gerontology dealing with the problem of aging. Addiction is almost coming into a department and more generally
these attempts to understandably understandingly these very urgent problems that face me currently have a center for conflict resolution on the campus right now. This will someday be a Department of Peace. What are you. These are in the behavioral sciences This is the direction in which I see the life and this is why I stopped being just normal physiologist and tempted to become behavior because this is the direction great need and bring potential. Good. Dr Miller and Dr Dr of made very clear when you talk about behavioral science you're talking about. Nearly all if not all sciences contributing in this sense I don't like to think of it as an infant science. If we think back a hundred years or so ago when we knew rather little about handling energy making it serve our purposes it would have been
difficult then to talk about the energy sciences anticipate what would happen I think that all it happened in science in the last hundred years and the four. Plays merely the groundwork for what we're now calling behavioral science. So I think it's way beyond the infant stage in the sense that those jobs in the physical sciences in the biological sciences have much other research had to be done as the foundation for this developing behavioral science. In one sense behavioral science can certainly be called a very young science I don't know whether I'd defend or dispute the statement. It's a newfound science. And there is in a sense that the the very important questions have not perhaps yet been crystallized like the Gerard mentioned problem areas around which the interest has focused. These are of course important crystallization points and they arise out of man's experience social experience collective experience and the people who come to to deal with these
questions bring with them their specific discipline their experience and the experience in order to make progress in these areas. But there are also other side. Crystallization and these foresight are questions which have the peculiarity that they're productive in the sense that they are allowed to development hand in hand. I have a theory linked with practice it is not easy to explain just what I mean but historically I think in historical perspective we can see what has happened in the physical sciences began there were they were primarily launched by the appearance of new force of question crystallization entirely different kinds of questions began to be asked which had not been asked before. And it is these new types of questions that allowed the development of theory in an altogether unexpected direction such as physical
science has become just common there are my interest your children. I think this is just the issue between you and Merrill flood perhaps as to whether its neuro chemistry existed in the form of alchemy there was a vast that's exactly what all of us are attempting to solve practical problems not only transportation of metals which was an impossible good perfectly good practical problems of oneself but it didn't become what we would call chemistry until it was yeah that's right. Until that's what was actually happening until certain very fundamental questions were asked but they asked it in different ways now they list sense. I would suggest that behavioral science is extremely elegant. Yes and that we may not as yet have even asked the right claims yet that's precisely what I understand certainly if. We have an also in the other sciences a physical and biological sciences. These questions came out only as a result of the attempt to answer the practical problems.
Well one has to do with art as uncaught this has to do with the psychology of science which are not required to discuss but I agree with you with the basic tenet that the date at which one would ordinarily place the beginning of a science would be the date at which some revolutionary type of question is asked which allows a progressive development instead of an aggregate of unconnected information what would you suggest are such foresight that have already crystallized out in behavioral science one example that is not really conclusive but I think illustrates Dr Rapoport point about a crystallizing question behavioral science. Not a new question but one posed in the way is represented by the. Right fundamental work of Don Lemon the Morgan star and game theory in which they have made it clear to us for the first time what the problem understanding cooperation ends. We're inclined to think of people in the competitive economy. As being competitive in some way that's good and we seem to have lost sight
I believe. Of the sense in which it's important to learn how to cooperate. Now there's nothing new about the notion that we should understand cooperation. There is something new I believe in the rigor and the clarity with which von Neumann Mark and Stern have reposed this all questions so it can be worked on mathematically and scientifically. These two illustrations that have been selected in this discussion. Information theory and game theory. Certainly give an impression of what the future behavioral science well may be. First of all they're quantitative. They're relatively sophisticated mathematics. I think 50 years ago it would have been almost unthinkable to the minds of the vast majority not only of laymen but of an intelligent and trained specialists that could have a quantitative predictive science of behavior. More and more this seems likely. As time goes by and therefore there will be increasing emphasis on
mathematical models. But in addition both of these examples straight the integrative aspect of the behavioral sciences which was emphasized in what Dr Jerome said earlier game theory can apply to problems at the level of the individual or the group or the society. Information theory has been applied to cells and molecules as well as to individuals and society. In other words instead of the older departments in which Dr. Gerard suggested the rule the thinking of today is perhaps sometimes in Bhaag we are very likely to have organizations of thought dealing with the whole man integrative approaches as Robert Oppenheimer said. The most promising aspects of science for the future are the interest to say these are the intersections between the traditional fields of the past and it is these sorts of integrative emphases that we look to to bring the most promising future implications of these fields to free to
fruition. Let me say this in still another way and called Warren Weaver in this connection. He wrote a very fine statement a few years ago in which he said that science had solved without any difficulties or problems of simplicity. The movements of single Bodies were pairs of body just the ordinary mechanics and. Statics and Dynamics and physics for example said science has also solved the problems of disorganized complexity. The statistical properties of large numbers we know in very precisely the number of people who are born today will be alive ten years from now or 50 years from now or how traffic will divide under various conditions. But what. We have had trouble with the problems of organized complexity where you have many units with subordinate units not merely present as individuals but in organized groups. So just as I model a cellular organism is an organized complexity of cells and a group in the society
is an organized complexity of individuals and the exciting thing is to mention these crystalizing points again. And from this way of thinking I am partly dead to my colleague Anatol Rapaport of should have said this instead of I that. One finds historically mathematics has developed primarily means of net mensuration of quantity measured. It is only in very recent years indeed our own lifetimes that mathematics of mathematical models has come up with. The power tools for getting at relationships not quantities and organization as a mode of relationship. So such things as top apology and set theory and stochastics theory and information theory and game theory and any others of these that you care to mention are the growing and conceptual. Rally points that the theoretical
models that are clearly going to contribute so much to the understanding of behavior in the sense it's been defined and is really the theoretical underpinning all the heavier the science. I would just like to ask if I may. We've talked about the multidisciplinary study of behavioral scientists in the future going to demand a different kind of training for people going into this area. I think you're seeing a sample here of the biologist talk more about the medics and the mathematicians for that petition to talk more biology in the section on the biology of hard thing about the way I don't think I should also recognize the of the reversed impact of biological thinking upon some mathematicians especially applied mathematicians who try to use their discipline in behavioral science. We impact the biological thinking I'm now returning doctoress compliment has been that it has put at the focus of attention the notion of home as the notion of an integrated organism and it is whatever you wish to call it which then to mind that
there are. Complex laws which emerge from simple laws and this determination of the complex laws which emerge from simple laws is not simply a reversion version of the problem of reducing the complex loss to simple laws. This emergence brings something new into being which can be talked only about in this holistic language which applies to the organism. It is not easy to make this idea clear but I believe that Dr I will understand it perhaps you have even restated for me. I've always loved that phrase adding as we used to think that if we knew one we knew two because one and one eyed two. We have discovered that we must learn a great deal more about. That's right that's right there's even a nursery riddle A C A and B were sitting on the roof and a disappeared and B disappeared once remained. Well that was the yeah I like kind of discussion for a moment to the future. As far as applications of behavioral science are concerned.
We have been talking here about the mathematical models of fundamental theories that underlie the sciences we had some reference to the experimental studies that go on in these fields. I think that it is not too much to expect that as time goes by the attitude of public policymakers whether they be in government or in industry or in labor or in community organisations of other sorts that decisions are not made on policy issues until after the fact collected from the behavioral sciences which might be rather because many of the issues which in the past have been resolved by men of great commonsense by lawyers by officials and governmental positions and so on. Are fundamentally questions on which behavioral science can be brought to bear. No I would not suggest that tomorrow the behavioral sciences take over the reins of management
or government because on many issues still the opinion of the competent experienced human being is better than the opinion of the scientists because the science is not yet good enough to give a definite and unequivocal answers on many of the human issues that must be resolved. But I believe increasingly we will find that policymakers will automatically turn to the facts which are collected from the biological and social sciences which are relevant to issues like addiction divorce juvenile delinquency. The best form of organization and industry improvement of selection of civil servants. Many issues end of it in national and international which are fundamentally issues of the relation of man to man and of human behavior. You mention the cost center for conflict resolution and he has much and now the international behavior is just going to play a role in the future as War and Peace is
decided one way or the other. Well. I'm not really the one to answer him after I say we're not. Turning over to Dr. Rappaport But you know there is a good deal of pressure to point out that we're spending tens of billions of dollars and Department of Defense. Workers. Whatever their color and that maybe we ought to begin to think of spending count for both effort and talent and money in the departments of peace and the prevention of war and have we really defending ourselves attacking the aggressor and to leave this is so elementary as not to be debatable. Even though this is bound to pay vast dividends as I said earlier I am quite certain one can solve the problem of underground out of bomb explosions comparable things by the simple crude acting device that I said states might be subjected to.
This is one type of conflict resolution. There are any number of types of conflict resolution and after all war is merely one way of making and change their minds and it is the least effective and most expensive way of doing. So that if one can induce people to act differently in other ways whether it is thought control or whether it is indoctrination whether it is revealing the secret strains of motivation or modifying those whether it is restoring the confidence in one another to people who've lost children whether it's any one of many things we use are problems that are well within the capacity of solution by behavioral science as it exists today or as it could easily be done without very very modest amount of support compared to what's going into destructive research and organization. No reason for you not to Doctor Rapoport is because he is. Immediately related to this center for conflict
resolution they want to give you some more detail about. Yes we're all here concerned with scientific investigations and historically scientific investigations have been very seriously hampered by the emotional involvement in the subject matter of investigation. There was a time when this trial to me was a very very controversial subject. There was no such thing as pursuing the truth wherever it may lead without the risk of very grave consequences to the pursuer because astronomy was linked to theology and people were very much involved in the kind of theology that they gave their commitment to. Now these things are things of the past. And we believe that a very large measure perhaps entirely such things as investigations of the cosmos the physical universe so on are free from dogma from emotional involvement to the extent that we may pursue the truth effectively by objective means and present a truth for public
verification when it comes to conflict when it comes to ideology when it comes to the issues that divide the two worlds at the present time. We are not yet in the position where we can do research impeded by the emotional involvements that surround the issues and I welcome the creation of the conflict resolution center a systematic systematic AF perhaps a turning point in our history when we are forced because of the terrific importance of a terrific dangers that face us to turn our attention upon ourselves and to pursue the investigation by objective means without committing ourselves one way or to another. As to the results which may be the results of these investigations. I would like to think the members of today's panel as they have taken a look at the present and the future of behavioral science the members of the panel were staff members of the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan and professors in various departments representing the fields of psychiatry psychology
mathematical biology and generic physiology. They were Dr. James Miller Dr. Anatol Rapaport Dr. Ralph W. Girard and Dr. Merrill M. flood. This is been a program from the series human behavior social and medical research. We extend our special thanks to the Mental Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan for their assistance. And this is Glenn Phillips speaking asking that you join us next week for the concluding program in this series and 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 1
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-sx648v5k).
Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, looks at future developments in behavioral science. Guests are: James G. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan; Anatol Rapoport, Ph.D., University of Michigan; Ralph Gerard, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan; and Merrill Flood, Ph.D., University of Michigan.
Series Description
A documentary series on behavioral science and its role in understanding human health.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Host: Cowlin, Bert
Interviewee: Miller, James Grier
Interviewee: Rapoport, Anatol, 1911-2007
Interviewee: Gerard, R. W. (Ralph Waldo), 1900-1974
Interviewee: Flood, Merrill M. (Merrill Meeks), 1908-1991
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-25 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:17
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Behavioral science research; Future developments, part 1,” 1961-12-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “Behavioral science research; Future developments, part 1.” 1961-12-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: Behavioral science research; Future developments, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from