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i, Production The Committee on Basic Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences was formed in response to a request from the National Science Foundation to the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council; that request was for a report that would: ~ Specify appropriate criteria for assessing the value, significance, and social utility of basic research in the social sciences; Identify illustrative areas of basic research in the social sciences that have developed analytic frameworks of high social utility and describe the development of these frameworks and their utilization; Identify illustrative areas of basic research in the social sciences that are likely to be of high value, significance, and/or social utility in the near future, review the current state of knowledge in these areas, and indicate research efforts needed to bring these areas to their full potential; and ~ Serve as a model for social scientists in presenting the potential implications and value of basic research in areas not included in the illustrations in this report. Although this formal charge refers to the social sciences, the committee understands its responsibility to encompass what is usually included in the behavioral and social sciences. VALUE, SIGNIFICANCE, AND SOCIAL UTILITY Central to the committee's charge is the phrase value, significance, and social utility. Our task was to assess basic research in the behavioral and social 1

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2 BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH: PART I sciences in light of these three criteria. We regard them not as mutually exclusive but rather as overlapping and complementary; at the same time, each is a distinctive prism through which the same set of research activities or findings may appear different. By basic research in the behavioral and social sciences, we mean research that has as its primary aim the understanding and explanation of human behavior and social arrangements. Basic research can be most simply defined as the discovery of new knowledge. As a result of basic research, empirically verified descriptions and explanations of natural phenomena and laws that govern their occurrence and interrelations are systematically accumulated. Value calls to mind intrinsic desirability and degree of excellence, although its other connotations (such as a fair return and relative worth) may imply a need to weigh quality against cost. Significance emphasizes importance in a wider sense, as in research contributions that subsequently play an essential part in other, perhaps originally unassociated, disciplines or applications. Social utility points primarily in the direction of the well-being of individuals, groups, and society as a whole. This report stresses that the full range of utility extends well beyond both practical applications and public policies. So described, the three tenets encompass a spectrum from the advancement of narrowly defined research goals at one end to a ramifying potential for individual and social betterment at the other. Of the three terms, value probably can be defined least ambiguously. Value represents a judgment about the research process itself the importance and timeliness of the problem addressed, the soundness of methodological innovations, the richness and reliability of data, and the superiority or originality of the conceptual framework. These criteria of value are central to judgments made by scientists in all fields. Academic appointments and promotions, review of manuscripts for publication, and peer review of proposals for research are all devices for implementing them. In each case there is a central judgment about an individual's or a group's accomplishment or about a problem around which further research can be organized: To what extent has it contributed, or is it likely to contribute, to the enhancement of scientific knowledge? Such a question presupposes as does the committee- that the systematic pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is an essential contribution to the betterment of the human condition. Moving beyond the value criterion, the report addresses the other two criteria by posing a second basic question: What are the contributions of scientific knowledge beyond the normal boundaries of the discipline or disciplines that created it? That available knowledge has always been brought into service for wider, often directly practical ends is clear. With its aid, ways are found to do things more efficiently, to create new goods and .

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Introduction . services, to inform decision making, and to improve the quality of life as well as, of course, contribute to the advancement of knowledge in other scientific disciplines through the diffusion of methods, instruments, and theories. Knowledge about human behavior and institutions is not different in these respects from other kinds of knowledge. On this as well as other grounds, it is the committee's conviction that the behavioral and social sciences must be judged by the same criteria as other sciences. In short, the justification for basic research in all fields lies in the knowledge-generating utility of scientific discoveries and in the well-founded anticipation-but not guarantee that some of those discoveries will in the long run prove to be of great practical benefit. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT The committee has approached its task in two ways. First, we commissioned a set of papers to review various research areas or topics in the behavioral and social sciences that have had great payoff or that show considerable promise. In some instances the payoff has been in the form of discoveries or inventions of practical value, while in others it has been in the form of advancement in understanding of ourselves and our society. These papers constitute Part II of a supplement to the committee's report (see Appendix A for the contents of Part II). Second, the report itself suggests criteria for assessing the value, significance, and social utility of basic research in the behavioral and social sciences and illustrates these criteria with examples drawn from recent research, including the topics reviewed in the papers. The body of the report, comprising the committee's response to its charge, is divided into four chapters. Chapter 2 considers the subject matter and modes of research activity in the behavioral and social sciences. The chapter first provides a general map of how the research terrain has been divided among different disciplines and gives an account of the dynamics of the process by which traditional lines of specialization and complementary theoretical and methodological emphases have developed. It then goes on to consider the varieties of theory and method that characterize the behavioral and social sciences. Different sources of data are mentioned, as are the means by which investigators typically analyze them. Chapter 3 illustrates the progress of the behavioral and social sciences as sciences, reviewing a number of areas in which significant advances in knowledge have been made in recent years. One striking feature of these advances is that frequently they have been borrowed from or have contributed to other disciplines, often outside the behavioral and social sciences. Sociologists who have inquired into the dynamics of social mobility and

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4 BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH: PART I status attainment, for example, have made liberal use of statistical methods developed by geneticists and econometricians. Another example is the study of human perception, which has involved a long-term interaction between psychophysicists describing behavior and sensory physiologists describing the physiological substrate of that behavior; this collaboration is documented in the paper by Braida et al. (in Part Ill. Chapter 4 describes a variety of applications of research findings to public policy formation and social problem solving as well as more diffuse processes by which knowledge from the behavioral and social sciences contributes to society. Our illustrations range widely and include the reformulation of lay understanding in areas such as racial differences; improvements in productivity and individual well-being through human factors and organizational design; and the invention of information-gathering technologies, such as survey research, that have improved the ability of society to monitor the information necessary for planning and governance in a complex democracy. Chapter 5 sets forth in more general terms the committee's view of the relationship between basic research and its influence and practical application. We understand this relationship as a continuum, with influence running in reciprocal directions and without hard-and-fast distinctions as to how problems are perceived or how work is organized. We regard the process of application as simultaneously technical, social, and political; as a result, considerable lags occur between specialized advances in knowledge and their wider employment. In addition, new and unexpected connections arise in the process, and it is difficult if not impossible to estimate in advance the influence or importance of a particular area of basic research. This chapter also presents the conclusions of the committee. The most fundamental of these is that basic research in the behavioral and social sciences-like basic research in other disciplines should be regarded as a long-term investment in social capital. The benefits to society of such an investment are significant and lasting, although often not immediate or obvious. A steep reduction in the investment may produce short-run savings, but it would be likely to have damaging long-term consequences for the well- being of the nation and its citizens. RELATIONSHIP OF THIS REPORT TO PREVIOUS STUDIES Many previous studies have dealt with various aspects of social research and its uses. These include a number of general reports by broadly representative committees of specialists as well as the voluminous writings of individuals. We cannot provide a comprehensive listing of the very numerous and diverse individual contributions on the subject, but the major committee reports include:

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Introduction 5 National Research Council (1968) The Behavioral Sciences and the Federal Government (Young report). National Research Council and Social Science Research Council (1969) The Behavioral and Social Sciences: Outlook and Needs (BASS report). National Science Board (1969) Knowledge Into Action: Improving the Nation's Use of the Social Sciences (Brim report). National Research Council (1976) Social and Behavioral Science Pro grams in the National Science Foundation (Simon report). National Research Council (Kiesler and Turner, eds., 1977) Fundamental Research and the Process of Education. National Research Council (1978) The Federal Investment in Knowledge of Social Problems. These reports, while differing somewhat among themselves, also differ in their concerns from the present one. Most of them rest on the premise that the behavioral and social sciences can and should play a substantial part in solving social problems. The Young report, for example, was primarily concerned with ways to improve the use of social research by agencies of the federal government in making policy. The BASS report includes a set of individual volumes that assessed the status and needs of particular behavioral and social sciences; its main report not only called for increased federal support for the social and behavioral sciences but also made a number of suggestions for improving the linkages among the various disciplines and between the social science community and the government. This report also proposed the creation of a set of social indicators corresponding to economic indicators. As the title Knowledge Into Action indicates, the Brim report spoke to many of these same concerns. The Simon report had a somewhat more specific focus, calling for a reorganization of social and behavioral science programs within the National Science Foundation, while on the whole supporting the quality and effectiveness of these programs. The report on fundamental research in education proposed a shift in federal support of educational research toward more basic research. And the report on the federal investment in knowledge of social problems had a still different character, devoting considerable attention to the policy-making process and stressing the limitations of social research as a tool for making social policy or for operating social programs. Many of the analyses and proposals in these studies still deserve serious attention as guides for policy. None of them, however, was directly concerned with assessing the value, significance, or social utility of basic research indeed, none of them treated basic research in the behavioral and social

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6 BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH: PART I sciences as problematic in this respect. Hence, the charge given to this committee has led to a report with substantially different content and objectives from previous efforts under similar auspices. THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES The behavioral and social sciences are those parts of a number of organized academic and applied disciplines that have as a common objective the explanation of the behavior and social relations of human beings by the application of scientific methods. As distinctive disciplines, the behavioral and social sciences are a devel- opment of the late 19th century. During this period the first academic departments were established, the first journals were published, and the first professional societies in the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geog- raphy, psychology, political science, and sociology were founded. These fields still constitute the core of social science divisions in most colleges and universities today, sometimes together with history, which is variously regarded as a social science and as a humanistic discipline. To equate the behavioral and social sciences with these named disciplines, however, is imprecise for at least two reasons. First, like other scientific disciplines, these fields are constantly subdividing and realigning as new knowledge, techniques, and problems shift the focus of attention and suggest the desirability of communication with colleagues from what were initially other disciplines. For example, demography, the study of the size and distribution of human populations, has emerged as a distinct discipline yet still draws most of its students from among those who also identify themselves as sociologists, economists, and biologists. A similar point can be made about sociolinguistics, the study of the interpersonal and social determinants and consequences of language use, a discipline that draws on anthropology, psychology, sociology, and philosophy, as well as the field of linguistics, itself a derivative of philology, and to some extent anthropology. The new field of cognitive science, the study of human thinking, straddles areas of psychology, biology, and computer science. And so on the list of such examples is very long. Each field continually spawns new subspecialties as its knowledge base increases. A list of some of the subspecialties of economics, which have developed in addition to the major division of the field into microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory, illustrates this point: mathematical economic theory, econometrics, the history of economic thought, economic history, economic development, industrial organization, agricultural economics, labor economics, public finance, international eco- nomics, consumer economics, comparative economics, welfare economics,

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Introduction 7 and regional economics (Rees, 1968:4.482-4.4841. Many of these specialties also overlap with work in other disciplines. Second, the social and behavioral sciences provide the research underpin- nings for all or part of several applied fields. In medicine, psychosocial factors are now strongly implicated in the etiology of some diseases and disorders and in the efficacy of treatment (see the papers in Part II by Krantz et al. on behavior and health and by Wilson on behavioral therapy). The legal profession has increasingly engaged in and been influenced by social science research on the impact of regulatory laws and agencies, laws against pornography, the interaction between the incidence of crime and patterns of arrest, trial, and punishment, and the behavior of judges and juries. Basic research in the behavioral and social sciences provides much of the empirical base for the practices and principles promulgated in schools of business, education, urban planning, public health, international affairs, public admin- istration, and social welfare. And research in these fields often contributes to the stock of basic knowledge. Finally, many fields of study mathematics, statistics, and computer science, for example have been stimulated by research questions in the social and behavioral sciences to develop particularly suitable models, methods, and techniques. Despite the imperfect fit between established academic disciplines and behavioral and social science activities as a whole, for the sake of convenience we use these disciplinary labels as the basis for organizing a brief description of the concerns and methods of the behavioral and social sciences. That is the task of the next chapter.