TLDR: Behavioural sciences is the study of how living things think and behave, including humans and animals. It uses observation, experiments, and mathematical models to understand why we do what we do. Examples of behavioural sciences include psychology, anthropology, economics, and cognitive science.
Behavioural sciences explore how living things think and behave. This includes studying the cognitive processes within organisms and the interactions between organisms in the natural world. Scientists in this field use methods like naturalistic observation, controlled experiments, and mathematical modeling to understand human and animal behavior. The goal is to draw objective conclusions based on rigorous analysis and observation. Some examples of behavioural sciences include psychology, psychobiology, anthropology, economics, and cognitive science. The focus is on understanding human behavior in relation to society and its impact on society as a whole.
There are two broad categories within behavioural sciences: neural information sciences and social relational sciences. Neural information sciences study how cognitive entities process information from the social environment to make decisions, form social judgments, and perceive the world. This includes fields like psychology, cognitive science, behavior analysis, and social neuroscience. On the other hand, social relational sciences focus on relationships, interactions, communication networks, and strategies between organisms or cognitive entities in a social system. This includes fields like sociological social psychology, social networks, dynamic network analysis, and agent-based modeling.
Behavioural science has practical applications in various areas of everyday life and business. For example, consumer behavior studies how people make decisions when buying goods or services. It examines patterns in consumer behavior, factors that influence decisions, and how to take advantage of these patterns. Organizational behavior applies behavioral science in a business setting to understand what motivates employees, how to improve their effectiveness, and how to achieve company goals. Behavioral science is also used in health interventions, where insights from psychology and economics help understand how individuals make decisions about their health and how to promote healthy behaviors.
Behavioural sciences are closely related to social sciences, but they differ in their level of scientific analysis. Behavioural sciences focus on the empirical data and decision-making processes within and between organisms in a social system. This includes fields like psychology, social neuroscience, ethology, and cognitive science. Social sciences, on the other hand, provide a framework to study the processes of a social system and the impact of social organization on individuals and groups. This includes fields like sociology, economics, public health, anthropology, demography, and political science. However, there are subfields that bridge the gap between behavioural and social sciences, such as political psychology and behavioral economics.
The study of behavioural sciences has a rich history. It began in the early 1900s, with pioneers like John B. Watson, who taught psychology and conducted controversial experiments. One of his experiments, known as the "Little Albert" experiment, conditioned a child to fear a white rat by associating it with a loud noise. Behavioural scientists continue to explore various aspects of human behavior, such as loss aversion, which has been found to be twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining. This knowledge is used to understand human behavior and develop effective interventions.
In summary, behavioural sciences study how living things think and behave. They use observation, experiments, and mathematical models to understand human and animal behavior. This field has practical applications in areas like consumer behavior, organizational behavior, and health interventions. While closely related to social sciences, behavioural sciences focus on the empirical data and decision-making processes within and between organisms, while social sciences study the impact of social organization on individuals and groups.