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Planning for the Role of Behavioral Science in National Research. William A. Yost Parmly Sensory Sciences Institute Loyola University Chicago. OR: We Don’t Get No Respect! . What can the behavioral sciences do to gain more respect?. We Don’t Get No Respect! .

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planning for the role of behavioral science in national research

Planning for the Role of Behavioral Science in National Research

William A. Yost

Parmly Sensory Sciences Institute

Loyola University Chicago

or we don t get no respect

OR: We Don’t Get No Respect!

What can the behavioral sciences do to gain more respect?

we don t get no respect

We Don’t Get No Respect!

The Behavioral Sciences have always had to battle to gain respect, e.g., in the

80’s the political right held that the behavioral and social sciences were

responsible for the failed welfare system leading to President Reagan zeroing

the Behavioral Science’s budgets at NSF.

Today, the Behavioral Sciences do not appear to have risen above the Gathering

Storm (“Rising Above the Gathering Storm;” NAS Report).” There appears to be

little “B (Behavioral Sciences)” in STEM, the Behavioral Sciences are

conspicuously absent from Bush’s American Competitive Initiative, and the

Behavioral Sciences are but a small destination on NIH’s Roadmap.

Again, the Behavioral Sciences have their work cut out for them if they want a

bigger share of the Federal research budget.

at times we don t help ourselves within science and with society

At times we don’t help ourselves within science and with society

The study of the behavior of an individual and the application of the knowledge gain from this study is far ranging

The behavioral sciences could use an

“umbrella” organization like AIP or FASEB

to present an integrated view of and provide

advocacy for the behavioral sciences

nih is not the only game in town

NIH is not the only game in town

The largest share of the Federal support for Behavioral Sciences research

comes from NIH, and almost all of the NIH Institutes support some form of

behavioral research; some a great deal more than I believe many realize.

HOWEVER, there are many other Federal Agencies that support behavioral

research: NSF, DoEd, DOD (AFOSR, ONR, DARPA), and the VA to name just

a few.

Thus, a national plan to improve funding for behavioral research should

pay attention to all of the Federal Agencies that support behavioral research.

It would be nice if there existed an “inventory” of what each agency supported

in terms of the Behavioral Sciences.

And, science in the United States is more and more being done by non-US

scientists. How will this influence US science funding?

the molecular biology juggernaut

The Molecular Biology Juggernaut

Systems scientists including most Behavioral Scientists seem to embrace

the role of both nature and nurture, but many molecular scientists appear to

have a low regard for the role of nature.

Systems Neuroscience has a hard time competing with Cellular and Molecular

Neuroscience for funding and societal attention.

Even if funding for science stay constant, Behavioral Science is likely to loose

ground unless and until Systems and Behavioral Science can demonstrate the

relevance of this approach to answering crucial questions.

isn t behavioral science an oxymoron what can behavioral sciences do for me

Isn’t Behavioral Science an Oxymoron?What can Behavioral Sciences do for me?

The Behavioral Sciences must do a better job of demonstrating their relevance

in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

The Behavioral Sciences need to work together to formulate and promote a

strategy for demonstrating the relevance of the Behavioral Sciences.

For instance, more could be done to make the point that the major cause of mortality and morbidity is maladaptive behavior, education reform is behavioral reform, understanding our economy is largely about understanding behavior, crime is criminal behavior, the causes of war are usually based on behavior like hate, etc.

i can t understand science so how do i know what to believe and why should i care

I can’t understand science, sohow do I know what to believe, and why should I care?

Distrust of science, apathy toward science, and science illiteracy hurt all of the

sciences, but maybe the Behavioral Sciences the most.

Of all of the sciences the Behavioral Sciences have the research tools to better

understand the correlates and causes of the public’s scientific distrust, apathy, and illiteracy and their interactions.

In a world in which resources are becoming scarce, the Behavioral Sciences need to know how to convince the public of the value of providing resources to the Behavioral Sciences.

i can t understand science so how do i know what to believe and why should i care10

I can’t understand science, sohow do I know what to believe, and why should I care?

The continents or the land masses

on which we live have been moving

for millions of years and will

continue to move in the future

The earliest humans lived at the

same time as the dinosaurs

Percent Answered Correctly

Antibiotics kill viruses as well as

bacteria

23%

3 correct

2 correct

1 correct

28%

30%

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Mercury Public Affairs for AIP, 2006

i can t understand science so how do i know what to believe and why should i care11

I can’t understand science, sohow do I know what to believe, and why should I care?

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF A SCIENCE EDUCATION?

Learn how to draw conclusions from evidence

Prepare for college or a career

To learn how to think critically

Gain a broad knowledge of the natural and

technological world

Learn how sciences is conducted

Learn about the real world, such as how antibiotics

work

Explore moral and ethical questions related to

science and technology

Understand the origin and diversity of life on earth,

including evolution.

80%

80%

78%

64%

63%

60%

42%

35%

some things that might be done to improve funding for the behavioral sciences

Some Things That Might Be Done to Improve Funding for the Behavioral Sciences

1) Behavioral Scientists of all sorts need to work better together to present the

importance and relevance of the behavioral approach to solving problems. One

way this could be done is via a strong consortium/federation of Behavioral

Science organizations.

2) Behavioral Scientists receive research support from almost all of the Federal

Agencies that support research. Increased funding in all agencies is important.

It could help if there were some form of an inter-agency group that dealt

with (coordinated) Behavioral Sciences research, somewhat along the lines of

OBSSR at NIH.

3)Advancing knowledge will be less than it could be if systems approaches

(including behavioral approaches) are under funded relative to molecular

approaches. Translational research can be as much about basic systems

application as it can be about basic molecular applications. I would

like to see more discussion of the importance of using both classes of

approaches being carried out in the publications of major organizations like

AAAS, APA, APS, ASHA, SFN, etc.

some things that might be done to improve funding for the behavioral sciences13

4) It is too bad that the Behavioral Sciences do not have a report like “Rising

Above the Gathering Storm” that could articulate the importance of the

Behavioral Sciences for society and suggest an agenda for providing support to

further the benefits that the Behavioral Sciences can provide. Perhaps the

NAS/NRC (e.g., the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences)

might generate such a report.

Some Things That Might Be Done to Improve Funding for the Behavioral Sciences

5) The Behavioral Sciences should not shy away from demonstrating their

relevance to major societal issues like climate change, energy use, causes of

morbidity and mortality, peace, poverty, education, national and homeland

security, etc.

6) It wouldn’t hurt if there were funding for studies of the correlates and causes of

the public’s attitudes toward science, especially the Behavioral Sciences. Such

studies should lead to ways to influence the public toward a greater

understanding of and appreciate for science, especially the Behavioral Sciences.

7) Clearly long-term assistance for improved Behavioral Sciences funding will be

determined by the education of society and of future Behavioral Scientists.

The Behavioral Sciences should strongly support the STEM initiatives and work

hard to make sure that the Behavioral Sciences are integral to these initiatives.