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Production DEAN R. GERSTEIN Herbert Hoover, in his preface to the report of the President's Research Committee on Social Trends (1933), explained that he had asked a "group of eminent scientists to examine into the feasibility of a national survey of social trends . . . to undertake the researches and make . . . a complete, impartial examination of the facts." Hoover noted that the committee's report on the findings compiled by their many experts "should serve to help all of us to see where social stresses are occurring and where major efforts should be undertaken to deal with them constructively. " ~ The focus of this distinguished committee of social scientists (the term behavioral science had not yet gained currency) and the hundreds of consultants who contributed to the report was to document the state of the nation, especially in terms of changing institutions, and to make such recommendations as seemed appropriate for public policy or private action. The most notable aspect of the 1,600-page report was its unified view (President's Research Committee on Social Trends, 1933, pp. xii-xiii): lithe members of the committee were Wesley C. Mitchell, chair, Charles E. Merriam, vice- chair, Shelby M. Hanison, secretary-treasurer, Alice Hamilton, Howard W. Odum, and William F. Ogburn. The executive staff included Ogburn as director of research, Odum as assistant director of research, and Edward Eyre Hunt as executive secretary. Although President Hoover initiated and appointed the research committee, funding for its investigations was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation. Substantial services and personnel were provided by the Social Science Research Council and the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. The list of acknowledgments of other institutions and individuals assisting in the work ran to 12 pages. For accounts of the complex dynamics of the committee, see Karl (1969, 1974).
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2 DEAN R. GERSTEIN It may indeed be said that the primary value of the report is to be found in the effort to interrelate the disjointed factors and elements in the social life of America, in the attempt to view the situation as a whole . . . as a national union the parts of which too often are isolated, not only in scientific studies but in everyday affairs.... It is the express purpose of this review of findings to unite such problems as Pose of economics, government, religion, education, in a comprehensive study of social movements and tendencies, to direct attention to the importance of balance among the factors of change. That attempt to bring the entire range of social science and what we now call behavioral science to bear on a comprehensive array of national issues in the United States was unprecedented and, in fact, remains unique.2 It is difficult even to imagine a comparable effort being undertaken today. This is not for lack of individuals with the intellectual range and authority of Ogburn, whose unifying view the report largely reflects and with whom it is most often identified. Rather, the theoretical and philosophical presup- positions that could undergird a comprehensive mobilization of scientific knowledge in He interest of national planning and reform presuppositions shared in important respects even by the one-time radical activist Ogburn and the conservative engineer Hoover no longer hold sway. The sheer size of the research base and the scope of government action have broadened immensely, while the disciplines and government bureaus have fissioned into a multitude of specialties, whose skepticism about the value of any unified effort would be an enormous barrier even were there a will to try it. This volume therefore does not try to develop and unify more recent research findings and make recommendations concerning national trends. Our aim is to spotlight a number of important changes within behavioral and social science research itself. Our procedure is not, strictly speaking, a historical one; the following chapters do not constitute formal histories of science, by which one means the careful tracking through time of events, ideas, institutions, and persons as these interact to produce continuities and changes from one scientific era to another. Rather, our intention is to select certain discoveries and advances that have occurred over the last half 2A series of studies camed out by federal mandate in the mid- and late 1960s involved some tasks similar to those of the research committee, but no single study had nearly so broad a mandate. These efforts included the Advisory Committee on Government Programs in the Behavioral Sci- ences (1968); the Behavioral and Social Sciences Survey Committee (1969); and the Special Commission on the Social Sciences of the National Science Board (1969). There was also strong behavioral and social science representation during this period in the work of special-purpose national commissions on such subjects as pornography, law enforcement and criminal justice, and marijuana and drug abuse.
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INTRODUCTION 3 century and to show in what ways they clearly distinguish the present from the past. The Ogburn report did not address itself primarily to the state of the art in fields whose practitioners were involved in its preparation. Yet it provides a unique window on certain major contours of thinking in certain fields at that time. The authors of the following chapters have drawn portraits of current research on major topics and contrasted these with earlier periods, particularly the era of Hoover's presidency. The subjects range from theories of large-scale social change to shifts in understanding the visual process; within this span fall such topics as economic modeling, ability testing, criminology, children's learning, and phonology. All these research fields were active a half-century ago, but in every case the science has changed markedly. The changes can be summarized as advances in methodology and advances in theory. An increasingly extensive, precise array of methods is now used in behavioral and social science research. These methods of gathering, or- ganizing, and querying data cut much closer than before to the core of individual and collective human behavior, enabling researchers and others who use the methods to look into ranges of phenomena not hitherto ac- cessible to direct observation, analysis, or experiment. Examples of these methodological advances are numerous. Current, detailed, accurate em- ployment/unemployment numbers simply did not exist at the time of the Ogburn report-the work force was counted only by the decennial census, and then only in terms of "usual occupations." The best estimates of the distribution of income in the United States available to Ogburn's research committee in 1930-1931 were based on special data collected by the Na- tional Bureau of Economic Research in 1918. Similarly, the Ogburn report's chapter on the changing opinions and attitudes of the public is based entirely ^A^~ ~ ~;~1~ in Gina main. hooks and newspapers; the direct scaling and sample surveys of people's attitudes and opinions had not yet been invented. Indeed, methods for generating most of the frequently updated indicator series taken for granted by modern researchers, public officials, corporate decisionmakers, and evening news watchers did not begin to appear until the 1930s. Exact statistical and quasi-experimental research on penal deterrence, the preventive relationship between punish- ment and crime, did not begin until the 1960s. In the study of mind and behavior, the microelectrode, optical devices such as the Ames window, the sound spectrograph (invented at Bell Laboratories during World War II), and computers, including new mathematical software for efficient so- lution of large-scale statistical equations, radically changed the character of research undertakings. In parallel with but independent of these methodological advances, the Ull a~,~,~lil~llL;3 V1 I 8~,.,~ ,.,,.__ ~,
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4 DEAN R. GERSTEIN vies in behavioral and social science have become far more attuned to the complexity, subtlety, and persistence of variable, subjective phenomena such as ideas, values, emotions, and images. The classical traditions of Western thought that dominated behavioral and social theory earlier in the century insisted either that subjective phenomena were immediate reflec- tions of material reality, simply summarizing objective experience, or that subjective phenomena formed a separate and mysterious realm, inaccessible to measurement or rigorous analysis. In contrast, many current theories and empirical inquiries guided by them involve an increasingly detailed picture of the origins, character, and relations between people's internal represen- tations, values, and attachments, and their behavior toward objects, insti- tutions, and persons. The theoretical work of Keynes on macroeconomics, Chomsky on language generation, Simon on decisionmaking, and Deming on statistical quality control emphasizes the importance of human agency in effecting performances and outcomes. These advances have not occurred without friction. In any field, new approaches are connected to earlier disputes and are always controversial. Theoretical arguments are seldom concluded by the progress of research; instead the debate shifts over time to different and more sophisticated grounds. Theories are more often mproved than disproved. The themes of increasing methodological precision and theoretical so- phistication weave through each chapter of the report. The 10 chapters are ordered under 3 headings: Understanding Social Change, Numbers and Decisionmaking, and Discovering the Mind at Work. While any division is to some extent arbitrary, these headings are meant to emphasize some of the major lines of advance in the last half-century. Social change was, of course, the main focus of the Ogburn report. Ogburn's own studies of technological innovation and its consequences were highly influential in their day and continue to underlie important segments of contemporary popular thought, although much of his perspec- tive has since been modified by investigators seeking to understand social changes for which Ogburn's theories did not account. The role of numbers in decisionmaking, particularly in the ever-changing landscape of American markets and political institutions, was a second overriding theme of the Ogburn report. This theme is taken up in this volume in several contexts: the role played by statistical agencies and information in democratic politics, the importance of probabilistic perceptions in me- diating the deterrent effects of punishment on crime, and the distinctive calculi of values and probabilities that shape individual decisionmaking. In each instance, the authors are as much concerned with the way that long- term advances in knowledge interact with decisionmaking processes as they are with particular applications of knowledge to decisions.
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INTRODUCTION s The final section on the mind at work covers a range of discoveries in subjects that were not nearly as prominent 50 years ago and received little attention in the Ogburn report but have become centrally important in the behavioral sciences: individual development, conceptual and linguistic per- formance, and perception. The theoretical debates between behaviorist ver- sus cognitive or information-processing approaches have been an important motor of progress in each of these areas. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL CHANGE In the opening chapter, Neil J. Smelser compares assumptions of the Ogburn report about the relation between social science and society with present-day assumptions. Even as the methods of behavioral and social science research have become more sophisticated and precise between 1933 and 1983, its aspirations to social influence and power have become less grand. What resolves this seeming paradox is the shift from a social en- gineering view, which posited a direct link between learning facts and taking action, to a view that recognizes the necessarily "uncertain connection" between knowledge and policy (Lynn, 19781. In the social engineering view, objective facts ultimately govern social action, whereas researchers now see factual knowledge as only one com- ponent in a complicated set of determining processes. Rather than taking facts as eternal truths residing in the world waiting to be observed, facts are now understood as compelling interpretive statements reached by com- paring the results of more or less precise measurements undertaken within a theoretical scheme. While Ogburn thought the practice of social science was essentially a matter of patiently, methodically collecting enough sta- tistical data to be certain of the situation, rather than jumping to conclusions based on irrational wishes or prejudices, researchers now see the continuing need to develop, test, and incrementally improve the precision and inter- relation of research methods, measurements, and theoretical systems. Ogburn and many of his colleagues held that once the facts were finally, clearly known, one would not have to worry independently about the will to act on them, since well-observed facts would not admit of conflicting interpretations and would convince people to abandon irrational prejudices or fantasies. After several decades of increasingly detailed work on the uses of scientific knowledge, this view is now known to be oversimple. Many factors intervene between the scientific pursuit of knowledge and the social pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness: competition for power between dif- ferent social groups, conflict over values, and barriers imposed by the relative autonomy of different social spheres. Conflicts over policy derive from fundamental cultural values and differences in social position as well
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6 DEAN R. GERSTEIN as more evanescent ignorance or error. Collective action is seen as a problem of resource mobilization and leadership, hardly an automatic response to scientific evidence. In short, as the social and behavioral science research base has become much stronger, it is also much more clearly understood why policy and politics can never rest on scientific research alone. In the next chapter, Albert J. Reiss, Jr., examines a reciprocal relationship that lay directly at the core of Ogburn's interests, the relationship between social science innovations and broader social changes. Ogburn was a pioneer in formulating the theory that the lead elements in social change are material or mechanical inventions such as the steam engine, radio, and elevator (without which there would be no skyscrapers), while cultural inventions are largely reactive, tending simply to permit social institutions to adjust to new material circumstances. Reiss notes that behavioral and social science research has led to many technical inventions that have affected and changed society. He cites the examples of human testing, sample surveys, quality control methods, and cohort analyses. While perhaps not as dramatic as the technological impact of the automobile or the transistor, these inventions have profoundly affected modern life. Ogburn and most of his contemporaries thought that social science was an essentially neutral activity that evolved on its own; they did not know how thoroughly even such basic scientific matters as the measurement of population grew out of social needs and later were adapted to scientific ones. Social change can greatly affect the measures and concepts of social science, which are in turn increasingly important in shaping the understand- ing of and response to change. For example, the massive levels of job- lessness experienced during the Great Depression substantially changed the way in which the work force was measured. Decennial surveys of workers' "usual occupation" were supplanted by monthly surveys of current em- ployment status. In turn, these measures were vital to managing the wartime economy and subsequently to local, state, national, and corporate planning and analysis. Reiss concludes that current studies of social change could be improved by attending more to organizational and other collective variables in contrast to the prevalent bias toward measures of individual behaviors, and by reorienting various aspects of the national statistical system. Such reorien- tation might not only provide better indications about domestic social trends but also aid in comparisons between the United States and other advanced industrial societies. Carrying this last theme several steps further, Michael T. Hannan takes up questions of organizational change, delineating certain recent innovations in organizational research. His central concern is with issues of inertia versus change and homogeneity versus diversity: how populations of or
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INTRODUCTION 7 ganizations respond to shifting or uncertain environments. In Ogburn's era and most of the years since, the dominant lines of organizational analysis have been based on the study of executive decisionmaking and its consequences. Theories of rational adaptation proposed that organizational leaders could see changes arising in the environment and make more or less sensible plans to adjust to them, presupposing that organizations comply with their leaders' intentions. Theories of random transformation proposed instead that organi- zational change is loosely coupled with environmental changes, because or- ganizations are rife with internal politics, which makes compliance with lepers' intentions an uncertain matter, and because planning in uncertain environments is a highly precarious, often hit-or-miss business. Hannan outlines a new approach that treats populations of organizations in an evolutionary and eco- logical perspective. This type of research examines the scale and frequency of changes in socioeconomic conditions, how these changes affect the fortunes of generalist versus specialist organizations, which conditions force organi- zations to conform to a standard model, and which encourage diversity of forms. This approach takes the organizational species as the unit and asks how well different species survive specifiable changes in competitive or other en- vironmental conditions. Hannan points out that Ogburn considered social organizations highly inertial, resistant to change in their accustomed routines and motions. The Ogburnian prescription to overcome this inertia-application of pressure from above in the form of planning based on superior statistical systems- strikes present-day students of organization (in the United States, at least) as unlikely. Organizational inertia is too strong and experienced managers are too clever at finding ways to absorb such pressure without making fundamental changes. Hannan concludes that more research needs to be done on sources of organizational diversity and creation, since there is substantial reason to think that in uncertain environments, new or atypical organizations will be more successful in meeting the demands of the sit- uation than older, standardized ones. Rather than searching for sources of transformation of organizations, analysis of change would be based on examining whole populations of organizations to determine their rates of birth and death and degree of heterogeneity. In this respect Hannan is at one with Reiss's prescription, that more studies should be conducted on organizations rather than on individuals. Lawrence R. Klein reviews the growth of macroeconomic models and forecasts, which apply some of the most highly regarded and dramatic advances in social theory and measurement to near-term socioeconomic change. Klein traces the beginning of macroeconomic model-building from the 1930s. Macroeconomic models as we know them now, involving hundreds of aggregate equations and frequently updated series of economic indicators,
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8 DEAN R. GERSTEIN simply did not exist then. Analyses of the business cycle, apart from isolated pioneering attempts at modeling, were based on very general principles and on trends of isolated economic variables, rather than on attempts to relate these series to each other. Neither today's detailed statistics nor a usable theory was available to try to predict such things as the level of employment or interest rates. The relationship between these items and such extant series . , . as commodity price indexes, and aggregate product measures such as gross national product, were not even guessed at. The chapter on economic organization in the Ogburn report, by Edwin F. Gay and Leo Wolman, attempted to locate the causes of the Great Depression in a combination of cyclical and noncyclical factors: the ex- traordinary government debt that arose during World War I, which the federal government devoted much of the 1920s to retiring (actually reducing that indebtedness by about 40 percent); the shift in consumer purchasing patterns from perishables to durables, whose replacement could easily be postponed, making consumer markets far more volatile; excessive business investment in mergers, the creation of holding companies, and other fi- nancial combinations; poor banking practices, particularly the willingness to devote ever-increasing credit resources to loans on real estate and in- dustrial securities (these, in turn, being subject to episodes of speculative frenzy) and to extension of consumer credit; an overall depression of ag- ricultural prices; and an "unsound international commercial policy" based ultimately on the need of defeated Germany to finance enormous war re- parations. What is missing from this perspective, for moderns used to hearing economic analysts tie up the stock market, foreign affairs, interest rates, and shifts in employment in a single paragraph, is any sense of how these items interact. Keynes's general theory suggested in 1936 a relatively compact way to express in a small number of equations the relations between large aggre- gates such as the overall supply of money, the gross national product, total investment, the average interest rate, and overall employment. National and international economic indicator series, which became available in increasing numbers shortly before, during, and after World War II, provided increasingly informative statistics on which to fit these models. The strategy of macroeconomic model-building was perfected in principle after World War II, but it became clear that more accurate forecasts required more detailed systems of equations. These could be constructed in a preliminary way with the statistics then available, but there were severe computational limits, which were resolved only after high-speed computer capabilities (hardware) and appropriate new mathematical algorithms (software) com- bined after the mid-1960s to enable the rapid solution of hundred-equation and even several-thousand-equation models.
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INTRODUCTION 9 Economists have used mathematical models to discard crude versions of a number of macroeconomic theories and to develop more sophisticated ones. But the models do not yet permit unambiguous choices between the more sophisticated versions of several competing theories about the basic workings of the macroeconomy. The typical macroeconomic model fits the observed data on which its specific numerical coefficients are estimated, but when the fitted model is then applied to generate predictions in other cases, it works much less precisely, being satisfactory in some instances but not others. An obvious aim for users of macroeconomic models is to employ the models to control economies the way engineering controls keep physical systems on an even keel. This has proven very difficult. Looking to the future, Klein notes that, while pure statistical analysis of economic time series currently competes with macro models, it would be useful to find a way to combine them and to incorporate many more social, political, and demographic variables in economic analysis. This is the kind of unifying recommendation that Ogburn might have applauded. But today the emphasis is on the testing and refinement of theories as the primary use for such elaborate constructions of social data; applications such as planning would be thought appropriate only well down the road. NUMBERS AND DECISIONMAKING Kenneth Prewitt considers the growth and complex impact on American democratic politics of many of the public statistical systems discussed in the previous chapters. Noting the close linkage of these statistical systems to the research interests and products of behavioral and social science, Prewitt focuses on the role of statistical enterprises in such intensely practical problems as electoral accountability, political agenda-setting, and public resource allocation. Numbers or, more exactly, statistical systems that count various aspects of social action and provide numerical indicators of what is occurring in society play an essential role in at least three underpinnings of successfully democratic states: as vehicles for assessing the performance of government policies and programs; as ways of setting agendas by iden- tifying or documenting particular interests; and as instruments for allocating government resources, for example, by statistical definitions of rights or entitlements, as in the allocation of federal funds according to "percentages of people living below the poverty line" in a congressional district. Prewitt indicates that social scientists who develop statistical methods and data- gathering surveys essentially for research purposes are also by virtue of this professional expertise the "keepers of the number system," responsible for seeing that the best kind of counting is done. He adds that this role entails
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10 DEAN R. GERSTEIN a responsibility to educate the public, including officials, about what the numbers mean-their strengths as well as their limits. If we compare the concerns documented by Prewitt with the Ogburn report, and particularly the concluding chapter on government and society by Charles E. Merriam, we are struck at once by the new significance of number systems in mediating political accountability, representativeness, and framing of the political agenda. Merriam clearly notes these problems and suggests that scientific investigations of human behavior may have broad political significance in the future; he also stresses the enormity of the problems facing government then due to the economic transformations and crises of the period. Merriam did not, however, share Ogburn's en- thusiasm for statistics as a possible solution to social conflict, a basis of coordination and planning that might harmonize diverse interests. Prewitt's chapter in important respects combines the legacies of Ogburn's and Mer- riam's conflicting views. Prewitt confirms Ogburn's sense of the potential power of number systems but couples it with Merriam's sense that the larger question is how these and other instruments of governance would be put to use in regulating new relations being formed among the government, the electorate, and large economic organizations. Focusing on a quite specific issue of social policy, H. Laurence Ross and Gary D. LaFree review recent studies on the power and limits of induced change in formal criminal justice operations to deter street crime and drunk driving. They emphasize how the public perception versus the organiza- tional actuality of criminal sanctions can effect the results of changes in the law. Before 1960, virtually no empirical, quantitative evidence existed on the effectiveness of increasing levels of deterrent threat as a method for reducing rates of street crimes or drunk driving. Criminology in the earlier period did not analyze the effects of punishment in its various real stages of implementation (e.g., rates of police patrolling, apprehension, convic- tion, sentencing, etc.) on the prevalence of crime. The chapter on crime and punishment in the Ogburn report, by Edwin H. Sutherland and C. E. GehLke, presented statistics on the increased severity of the penalties per- mitted by law and the increased sizes of police forces. But their principal emphasis was to document that no "crime wave" was evident in the period 1900-1930, that rates of offending were fairly level except for the new crimes of automobile traffic offenses and liquor distribution. Questions of rehabilitation were the main ones identified for future research. Ross and LaFree believe that the practicable research agenda on reha- bilitation has largely been exhausted, with fairly negative results. They document a series of recent studies on deterring crime that led to the following results. Increasing the perceived certainty of apprehension for criminal behavior by funding more police foot patrols or well-publicized
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INTRODUCTION 11 anti-drunk-driving patrol measures does cut the rate of offending, al- though at least in the case of drunk driving the desired effect seems to be short-lived. There is serious question whether statutory provisions providing for increased severity of sentences for offenders can alone have any effect. Drawing their policy analysis to a close, Ross and LaFree conclude that manipulation of sanctions appears to be of little independent value, while increased police activity is expensive to achieve. They recommend explo- ration of alternatives that reduce the damage to victims of street crimes or drunk driving, e.g., measures such as victim compensation or more crash- worthy vehicles and roads. Other alternatives, not discussed by Ross and LaFree, include neighborhood volunteer patrols and efforts to change public attitudes and policies on server behavior that can inhibit drink driving. Ross and LaFree emphasize that individual perceptions of risk in practical situations can determine in part how policy intentions are translated into attitudes and behaviors. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky investigate the ways in which individual decisions are influenced by persistent attitudes on risk-taking and the value of gains versus losses, as well as by variable ways to construct mental accounts of personal behavior, such as expenditure decisions. Kahneman and Tversky see a smooth relationship between the rationalist principles of decisionmaking formulated in the eighteenth century by Bernoulli and the prescriptive theories of rational choice propounded by van Neumann and Morgenstern in 1947. The notion that one could make decisions by rational, logical, robust quantitative analysis is an appropriate behavioral complement to Ogburn's emphasis on statistical systems and planning. Even Robert Lynd's iconoclastic chapter in the Ogburn report on consumer behavior seeks solutions to the ambiguities of market choice in the development of informational consumer advisory groups. But the co- nundrums that have come to dominate behavioral analysis of decisionmak- ing in recent years-the "prisoner's dilemma," Arrow's "impossibility theorem," behavioral experiments contradicting van Neumann and Mor- genstern's principles depart dramatically from prescriptive rationalist psy chology. Kahneman, Tversky, and others are developing an empirical understand- ing of individual choice behavior that involves measurable quantities such as dollars or numbers of deaths. These choices are conceived to have two levels. At one level, that of analyzing risky choices, individuals faced with a decision, seen for simplicity as a series of binary options, must make two kinds of subjective computations or estimates regarding the possible out- comes of the decision. One set of estimates concerns the probability that a given choice at present will lead to one or another future outcome; the other set of estimates concerns how desirable each outcome seems at present. The desirabilities of the possible outcomes weighted by their probabilities
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12 DEAN R. GERSTElN of occurrence should govern the decision. But persons studied by Kahne- man, Tversky, and other psychologists tend to have two kinds of systematic biases. First, they tend to overweight low-probability or high-probability outcomes and to underweight moderate probabilities. Second, they tend to be loss-averse: more negative about losing a certain amount of money than they are positive about gaining the same amount. The net result is that, when faced with making choices involving risk, people usually prefer to take a sure gain rather than to gamble for a greater gain (versus none). But with similar amounts at stake, they would rather pass up a sure loss in order to gamble on a greater loss (versus none). One also has to consider a second level of decisionmaking called mental accounting. There is more than one way to frame a choice in terms of relative gains versus losses this largely has to do with what one chooses to think of as the zero point. The way that a choice is presented, the frame built around the choice, may influence the decision. In other words, decision weights may not be robust. People do not necessarily make the same choice when faced with the same objective options framed in different ways, especially if the different frames take advantage of the biases that are built into people's ways of computing desirability and probability. For example: it is more attractive to frame property or medical insurance premiums as the cost of avoiding highly improbable but very large losses than to frame them as a sure loss taken in preference to gambling against a range of smaller to larger, mostly improbable losses. Sellers of insurance do better appealing to people's aversion to catastrophe than indicating how sums paid as premiums balance against the costs and probabilities of ordinary illnesses or accidents. The psychophysics of chance and value cause people to over value what they already have compared with what they would pay to obtain the same possessions or chances anew and to engage in anomalous spending behavior depending on how, in their own minds, they think about each expenditure: as a direct trade-off of one purchase for another; as the current cost of the item relative to a possibly higher or lower cost at another place or time; or as a net reduction in their overall assets. DISCOVERING THE MIND AT WORK The research covered by Kahneman and Tversky reveals an important analytical linchpin in theories on how individual choices are composed into social, political, and economic trends: the assumption of rationality as a characteristic of the sovereign consumer, autonomous citizen, or competent manager or worker. This assumption has turned into an increasingly com- plex field of study in itself. The final triplet of essays in this volume looks directly into the processes that constitute individual thought and complex
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INTRODUCTION 13 symbolic behavior, covering research on such tasks as calculation, visual interpretation, communication, and problem solving. In contrast to the major significance of studies of perceptual and cognitive processes today, these research areas were little attended to in constructing the Ogburn report. It is instructive to read the chapter on education in the Ogburn report, by Charles H. Judd. Judd noted that schools were largely replacing earlier economic employment in industry or on the farm as a locus of children's activities outside the family. His report urged more scientific study of education but nearly all the attention to research stressed the move to less formal teaching methods in lieu of recitation and rote and the use of psychological tests to assess the state of learning of the individual student. Other chapters on the family, youth, and childhood paid little attention to cognitive matters, concentrating instead on personality and child welfare. Rochel Gelman and Ann L. Brown discuss the revisions in theory and method that have occurred in recent years in research on numerical, spatial, linguistic, and conceptual capabilities of children from infancy through school age, including the pedagogical processes by which in-school and out-of-school learning takes place or bogs down. They place learning in the context of interaction between the growing child and the environment- initially the physical and family environment, later the school. Studies of infants and preschoolers show that innate cognitive faculties are far more sharply developed at early ages than is apparent from the limited physical capacities that infants have, and that "child's play" is more sophisticated in its use of cognitive skills than was thought. Recent studies indicate that infants have rudimentary computational abilities, appreciation of the mul- tivalent character of objects, and a strong interest in learning about the world, and that preschoolers are "tireless explorers" and theorists who generally place high values on learning, planning, thinking, and construc- tion of mental and physical competences. Gelman and Brown look at a full range of cognitive matters, including the relations between quantitative reasoning, linguistic concepts, and visual perception. Advances in knowledge have resulted from a combination of methodological improvements (some using new technical devices), deter- mination to study aspects of infant and child behavior with far more attention to detail than previously, and withdrawal from earlier theoretical presump- tions that the infant's mind must be a blank slate. Modern theory proceeds from the idea that complex mental constructs do not arise from simple associative learning or prewiring in the brain, but rather from a series of active search-and-learn processes that evolve along with sets of subjective inferential principles. A major problem for schools is to retain the natural curiosity and theory
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14 DEAN R. GERSTEIN building capabilities of the child and turn these to the mastery of more explicit, formal bodies of knowledge through appropriate teaching strate- gies. Many of the standard pedagogical practices in modern classrooms asking questions to which the teacher already knows the answer, insisting on appropriate "turn-bidding" behavior, teaching facts through nonnar- rative rote and without contexts for use beyond quizzes designed to measure individual performance differ substantially from teaching sequences the child may have experienced prior to and outside school, such as appren- ticeship, free play, story or song learning, and role exchange. Gelman and Brown point out that to broaden in-school teaching methods, the character of out-of-school learning situations should be recognized and better ex- ploited, possibly decreasing the number of children who become failure- oriented (liable to develop defensive behavior and "dumb" self-concepts that weigh heavily against success in school) rather than mastery-oriented (able to be constructively self-critical and to learn from rather than be afraid of making mistakes in the course of mastering new material). Michael Studdert-Kennedy analyzes current understanding of the manner in which humans encode and decode words, phrases, and meaningful com- munications from the highly complex and variable tones of speech and motions of sign languages, and he reviews the evidence that linguistic competence, the ability to make these reversible codifications between ideas and expressions, is a distinct "module" in the brain. He describes the emergence of a new kind of research on language centering around the theoretical revolution introduced in the 1950s by Noam Chomsky. The principal result of that revolution has been to look for the faculty of language deeper within the human mind than had occurred under the behavioristic interpretation of language as something impressed on the mind as though on a blank slate, or within the descriptive tradition, dominant at the time of the Ogburn report, which was devoted to characterizing the major lan- guage groups, their evolution, and the seemingly endless variety of dialects. The current two-level notion of language sees it as a merged product of a phonological lexicon, or cross-registry of syllabic sounds and their root meanings, and a syntactic generator, which produces as well as decodes grammatical sentences. Both levels involve repeated sampling of a finite set of rules and devices to produce an infinity of possible utterances (mean- ingful sound sequences). The failures in applied linguistic research after World War II to produce machines that could translate texts automatically from one language to another, read to the blind, or convert speech into written text, were highly instructive in progress toward current conceptions of language. Studdert-Kennedy reveals how the sound spectrograph per- mitted discovery of the complex aural interlayering of syllables in actual speech, and how studies of aphasias led researchers to the idea that language
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INTRODUCTION 15 competence may be a basic faculty of mind, largely specialized in one hemisphere of the brain. Most interesting are suggestions that children are predisposed, biologically as well as in other ways, to search actively for language structure within a series of grammatical constraints, and that this search leads to rapid learning. Studdert-Kennedy points to the importance of a few revolutionary ad- vances in theory and methods in the study of language: the invention in the 1940s of the sound spectrograph and related mechanical devices to record and display detailed data on sound patterns; Chomsky's theories of syntactic structure in the l950s; and the linguistic study of sign language beginning in the 1960s. In each instance, the advance broke open an older tradition that had considered the task of the brain in producing and decoding speech a conceptually simple one, learned by associative principles that activated the wiring pattern of the brain, which in turn was directly linked to the organs of speech production (mouth and throat) and speech perception (auditory channels). In the final chapter, Julian Hochberg discusses how the impacts of social demands and supporting technologies have affected our understanding of vision; in particular, how the play of light on the eye leads to the mental construction of three-dimensional images even when the objects in sight are only two-dimensional pictures made of paint, ink, film, or electronic projections in varying degrees of realism or abstractness. The relationship between picture and object has attracted the interest of artists and philos- ophers for centuries, but beginning in 1850 or so this became a special province of psychologists. For many years the study was dominated by ideas derived from Helmholtz's theory of color vision: that vision is a mosaic of three-way color perceptors on the two-dimensional surface of the retina, which reproduce a sensory pattern mapping the light reflected by objects in the scene, which the brain perceives in three dimensions using automatic computational procedures (unconscious inferences) learned through pre- vious experience with scenes in the world. Hochberg focuses on several particulars: that it would be advantageous, but probably mistaken, to assume the existence of a strong neuropsycho- logical ability to discover relatively rigid objects in the visual field; that certain types of optical illusions persistently fool the eye by making us see deformations of object rigidity that do not in fact occur; and that two technologies, the microelectrode and the computer in particular, He per- ception-emulating and picture-generating capacities of computers have had significant impact on the study of visual processes. Hochberg reviews evidence showing that living visual circuitry perceives more than just dots of color and that a variety of feature detectors are directly wired into the retina or the visual cortex, for example, provisions for detecting edges and
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16 DEAN R. GERSTEIN for perception of depth through parallax revealed by motion. Hochberg reviews the evidence that something else is present: an autonomous not automatic ability to create and manipulate in the mind's eye real or hy- pothetical images of objects and fields of objects. The constraints and capacities of subjective imaging, and its relation to the increasingly better understood character of optical biophysics, becomes more interesting and salient as automatically generated interactive computer graphics become more widely available and essential for both practical and scientific tasks. CONCLUSION Scientific research on social life and behavior has always had to deal with the variability of subjective phenomena and the varying nature and preoccupations of successive historical periods. Both the need to address these challenges directly and the difficulties of doing so are better known now than they were 50 years ago. Remarkable strides in advancing the knowledge base have depended on the increasing precision and scope of measurement techniques and data-generating technologies and on funda- mentally improved theoretical concepts, which direct research and codify new knowledge. In this respect the advances of the past 50 years have been impressive and revealing. The social sciences have striven to incorporate the varieties of observed social form as intrinsic parts of social theory, and behavioral sciences have focused on the real complexity of reproducible mental and physical performance. Both have participated in and benefited from the advances of modern mathematics and electronics, and both have generated new inventions that have diffused widely through modern society. Greater precision and more sophisticated theory have brought with them a greater understanding that all measures and concepts are sensitive to the contexts and purposes in which they are employed. When placing a newly contrived magnifying lens over some sample of human behavior, it is only by repeated and subtle variation of the angles, as well as imagining and testing many possible explanations for what is seen, that one can approach certainty of having found more than just a distorted reflection of the viewer's own physiognomy and wishes. At the same time, the subjects we inspect most closely are often those to which the times impart the greatest urgency. And in turn, these subjects profoundly influence the speed as well as the manner in which the first lenses are ground. Macroeconomic model-building was impelled by the disaster of the Great Depression and the need to mobilize a wartime economy. The first numerical computer was built to break Nazi military codes. The scaled intelligence test was developed to identify retarded French schoolchildren. In each case there was a wealth
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INTRODUCTION 17 of earlier ideas and researches, yet the breakthrough was at once a scientific and a practical achievement that went well beyond its original intentions. Because they are embedded in social and technological change, subject to the unpredictable incidence of scientific ingenuity and driven by the competition of differing theoretical ideas, the achievements of behavioral and social science research are not rigidly predictable as to when they will occur, how Hey will appear, or what Hey might lead to. The chapters of this volume show that much has been learned in 50 years and that benefits have flowed from this new knowledge. There is in this knowledge a counsel of patience and challenge: the study of behavior and social life may be slowed or quickened, but it cannot, as Ogburn believed it could, be guided down orderly avenues of social equilibration or reform. One can expect the overall sphere of knowledge to expand; the area within it, of subjects well understood, to increase. But the expanding perimeter of subjects only par- tially understood is ever volatile win new kinds of data, new twists on older controversies, new ideas to be reckoned with. And beyond the realm of the known and the disputed lie far larger terntories, unexplored and barely imagined. Behavioral and social science remains an endless frontier. REFERENCES Advisory Committee on Government Programs in the Behavioral Sciences 1968 Behavioral Science and the Federal Government. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. Publication 1680. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. Behavioral and Social Sciences Survey Committee 1969 Behavioral and Social Sciences: Outlook and Needs. A report under joint auspices of the Social Science Research Council and National Academy of Sciences. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Karl, Barry D. 1969 Presidential planning and social science research: Mr. Hoover's experts. Perspectives in American History 3:347-409. 1974 Charles E. Merriam and the Study of Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lynn, Laurence E., Jr., ed. 1978 Knowledge and Policy: The Uncertain Connection. Study Project on Social Research and Development. Volume 5. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. President's Research Committee on Social Trends 1933 Recent Social Trends in the United States. Two volumes. New York: McGraw-Hill. Reprinted by Arno Press, New York, 1979. Special Commission on the Social Sciences of the National Science Board 1969 Knowledge into Action: Improving the Nation's Use of the Social Sciences. National Science Foundation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: