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The term behavioural sciences encompasses all the disciplines that explore the activities of and interactions among organisms in the natural world. It involves the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic observation, and disciplined scientific experimentation. It attempts to accomplish legitimate, objective conclusions through rigorous formulations and observation. Examples of behavioural sciences include psychology, psychobiology, and cognitive science.
The term behavioural sciences is often confused with the term social sciences. Though these two broad areas are interrelated and study systematic processes of behaviour, they differ on their level of scientific analysis of various dimensions of behaviour.
Behavioural sciences abstract empirical data to investigate the decision processes and communication strategies within and between organisms in a social system. This involves fields like psychology, social neuroscience and cognitive science.
In contrast, social sciences provide a perceptive framework to study the processes of a social system through impacts of social organisation on structural adjustment of the individual and of groups. They typically include fields like sociology, economics, public health, anthropology, demography and political science.
Obviously, however, many subfields of these disciplines cross the boundaries of behavioral and social. For example, political psychology and behavioral economics use behavioral approaches, despite the predominant focus on systemic and institutional factors in the broader fields of political science and economics.
Categories of behavioural sciences
Behavioural sciences includes two broad categories: neural — Information sciences and social — Relational sciences.
Information processing sciences deals with information processing of stimuli from the social environment by cognitive entities in order to engage in decision making, social judgment and social perception for individual functioning and survival of organism in a social environment. These include psychology, cognitive science, psychobiology, neural networks, social cognition, social psychology, semantic networks, ethology and social neuroscience.
On the other hand, Relational sciences deals with relationships, interaction, communication networks, associations and relational strategies or dynamics between organisms or cognitive entities in a social system. These include fields like sociological social psychology, social networks, dynamic network analysis, agent-based model and microsimulation.
Applications of behavioural sciences
Insights from several pure disciplines across behavioural sciences are explored by various applied disciplines and practiced in the context of everyday life and business. These applied disciplines of behavioural science include: organizational behavior, operations research, consumer behaviour and media psychology.
- List of academic disciplines
- Klemke, E. D., Hollinger, R., and Kline, A. D., (1980), Introduction to the book in 'Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science': Buffalo, New York, Prometheus Books p 11-12
- George Devereux: From anxiety to method in the behavioral sciences, The Hague, Paris. Mouton & Co, 1967
- Fred N. Kerlinger (1979), Behavioral Research: A Conceptual Approach, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, ISBN 0-03-013331-9
- E.D. Klemke, R. Hollinger & A.D. Kline, (eds.) (1980). Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science. Prometheus Books, New York.
- Neil J. Smelser & Paul B. Baltes, eds. (2001). International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 26 v. Oxford: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-08-043076-8