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ply! 5~ Red A H~ 0~ Robert McC. Aclams, Neil J. Smelser and Donald J. Treiman, editors Comm ittee on Basic Research i n the Behavioral and Social Sciences Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences - and Eclucation Nationa I Research Cou nci I NATI ONAL ACADEMY PR ESS Wash i ngton, D. C. 1 982 1
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and of advising the federal government. The Council operates in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy under the authority of its congressional charter of 1863, which establishes the Academy as a private, nonprofit, self-governing membership corporation. The Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in the conduct of their services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. It is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine were established in 1964 and 1970, respectively, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 82-81776 International Standard Book Number 0-309-03278-4 Available from: NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. Washington, D. C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America
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COMMITTEE ON BASIC RESEARCH IN THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES R O B E R T M C C O R M ~ C K A D A M S (Chair), The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago * W! ~ ~ ~ A M ~ . B E N N E T T. National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina DAVID A. HAMBURG, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University JUANITA M. KREPS, Durham, North Carolina G A R D N E R E ~ N D Z E Y. Center for Advanced Study Sciences, Palo Alto, California in the Behavioral E ~ ~ Z A B E T H F . ~ O F T U S. Department of Psychology, University of Wash- ington, Seattle JAMES G. MARCH, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford, California ~ E S S ~ C A T . M A T H E W S. Editorial B card, The Washington Post P H ~ E ~ P M O R R ~ S O N. Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology CHARLES A. MOSHER, Washington, D.C. KENNETH PREWITT, Social Science Research Council, New York TPETER H. ROSST, Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts PA U ~ A . S A M U E ~ S O N. Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology N E ~ ~ ~ . S M E ~ S E R. Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley SAM BASS WARNER, JR., Department of History, Boston University ROBERT ~ . ZAJONC, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan DONALD ]. TREIMAN, Study Director P A T. R ~ C ~ A A . R O O S. Research Associate R O S E S . K A U F M A N. Administrative Secretary *Resigned December 1981 TResigned July 1981 . . .
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Preface The Committee on Basic Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences was established early in 1980 under the auspices of the Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sciences, now the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, of the National Research Council. At the request of the National Science Foundation, the committee was asked to assess the value, significance, and social utility of basic research in the behavioral and social sciences. One consideration in selecting committee members was to convene a group sufficiently well informed about the huge range of subject matter to oversee a comprehensive study of it. At the same time, however, its size needed to be held within moderate limits in order to deal efficiently with the task at hand. This precluded the appointment of representatives of more than a fraction of the full array of relevant disciplines and subdisciplines. A second consideration in selecting members was to ensure that they would take a broad, contextual view of the committee's assignment, assessing the progress and potential of the fields within its purview, not exclusively as specialized contributors to them, but with due regard for the interests and concerns of the society at large. For this purpose a number of committee members were chosen whose backgrounds were in other fields of science, in the humanities, and in public life. (Biographical sketches of committee members and staff appear in Appendix B.) The committee members worked together productively and harmoniously without regard for this diversity, and probably to some extent even because of it. Vigorous differences of opinion arose repeatedly as drafts of the various v
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V1 Preface chapters were prepared, criticized, and repeatedly rewritten, but permanently polarized positions on issues were conspicuous by their absence. Behavioral and social scientists have sometimes received, and on occasion may even have helped to generate, a variety of criticisms~.g., that they are overly committed to ideological positions or (somewhat contradictorily) that they are engaged in documenting the trivial and the obvious. Deciding that no abstract refutation of charges at this level of generality is useful or perhaps even possible, in this report the committee has taken little direct cognizance of them. Instead we believe that the report, along with the more detailed papers that accompany it, documents the existence of broad and representative areas of research in these fields, to which such criticisms cannot reasonably be applied. Some of our illustrative examples of basic research and its products have had the more or less unintended effect of reinforcing the case for particular policies and programs, occasionally on a counterintuitive basis. Others have led to the introduction of new and useful technologies of broad application in the private and public sectors or have altered perceptions of the circum- stances with which we cope individually and collectively. And many of them have had the potential of enhancing the well-being of our society and its members. It is partly on a demonstration of these pervasive effects that the case for the social utility of basic research in the behavioral and social sciences rests. In another sense the committee takes the position that there are dangers in singling out the behavioral and social sciences for measurement against a standard of social utility. Efforts to extend the frontiers of knowledge are fully justifiable in their own terms, dependent only on their progress in altering the scientific understandings that were their original points of departure. In addition, the lack of clear-cut or permanent boundaries around the behavioral and social sciences means that they can be isolated only somewhat arbitrarily and are better understood as part of a wider continuum of scientific and scholarly pursuits. This point was persuasively put by committee member Philip Morrison, a physicist, in a contribution to an early draft of the report. His distinctive breadth of view and vividness of phrase deserve to be recorded: The very enterprise of a scientific description of the natural world leads directly to the necessity of the social and behavioral sciences. At the eyepiece of the telescope there is a human eye; on the layered strata of the riverbank may be found the flint tools and hearths of prehistoric campsites; the society of bees both forces and gains from a reflective look at the very different society of the entomologist. It does not seem possible to draw any clear line between the scientist looking out at the physical or biological world and another kind of scientist concentrating instead on his or her own species. As research proceeds it has become ever clearer that the functioning of the eye in
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Preface . . V11 terms of its human significance has only a few elementary principles in common with the functioning of a camera. It is instead a complex input device to a computing system more intimately connected to its past than anything constructed in a laboratory. Regularities are discovered in the distribution and cultural composition of ancient campsites, but once again different from those of the coexisting plant and animal communities or of the river deposits that in time covered them. Similarly, it has become clearer and clearer that rules of behavior enforced among bees by transfer of pheromones are secured among humans by a much richer flow of meanings and symbols-grammar, eye contact, flag. This implies simply that the natural sciences must be extended in the same spirit, across what a physical scientist would describe as a phase change, to the study of the extraordinary qualities of the species Homo sapiens and its richly diverse works. Much of what is found in this report elaborates on the nature of the more self- revealing sciences that H. sapiens requires. Physical and biological scientists may be disconcerted by the degree to which answers to research questions in the behavioral and social sciences have continually led to the redirection of the questions themselves as well as by the need, when dealing with H. sapiens, to devise indirect routes of explanation to replace experiments. But different from the physical and biological sciences though they are, these latter fields share the common goals of all sciences, obey its precepts, and promise its twin fruits, understanding and a measure of choice and control. There is no logical, justifiable cut to make which could part the study of human social and behavioral questions from the traditional and nowadays obligate task of understanding the nonhuman features of the man-made as well as natural world. There may be reason to vary the emphasis, limiting resources in one area while applying them more liberally in another, but the existence of a fundamental continuity cannot be denied. Both the dancer and the dance are proper subjects for . . . . . t he inquiries or science. At the other end of the spectrum of inquiry and scholarship lie the humanities, with history somehow bridging the intersection. A divergence from the approach common to the sciences may be most evident in the strongly personal nature of many humanistic forms and methods; yet others approximate the techniques and interests of science and hence merge smoothly into the social sciences. Disciplines like anthropology, economics, and political science are becoming familiar terrain for many historians, and the systematizing student of comparative literature (or even the outward-turning novelist) can join forces with sociologists. The linguist or philosopher may find a zone of vital connection still further along the continuum by coming close to mathematics. Once again, in other words, there is no sharp line of division but a broad band of overlapping, common interests. From the specialist in radioactive dating or the biochemist concerned with retinal pigments to the poetic translator of a Babylonian myth sequence, there stretch the hundred specialties of the subjects here under examination. That we confront a complex natural continuum, not a set of differently constituted outlooks that can be linked only by analogy, is perhaps the most essential premise of this or any other close look at the work of a substantial segment of the scientific community today. At the outset of its work, the committee recognized the need to supplement its own efforts with those of a larger group of colleagues. A small group
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. . . V111 Preface meeting only a half-dozen times over a period of less than two years could not hope to achieve a balanced and comprehensive assessment if it relied only on its own resources. The most tangible outcome of our attempt to meet this need is the set of commissioned papers that make up Part II of this report, each of them describing in considerable detail a specific area of research and its utilization (see Appendix A for the contents of Part II). A fuller account of how the help of the wider behavioral and social science community was solicited, as well as of how these particular papers were decided upon, may be of interest. As an initial step, letters outlining the task with which the committee was charged were sent to several hundred leading behavioral and social scientists. These letters acknowledged at the outset a shared commitment to the advancement of basic knowledge as a valid and autonomous goal, but went on to state the need to address questions of priority, utility, and relevance directly and responsibly by those who call on public support as well as by those who allocate it. We suggested that something might be gained by depicting the multiple and diffuse pathways from basic research developments, through assorted channels of application and communication, to tangible public benefit. Flows in the opposite direction, e.g., from applied research findings back to the enrichment of basic scientific understanding, could also be worthy of illustration. More generally, however, we also solicited comment on all aspects of the committee's task. The large number of thoughtful replies received had a profound though necessarily diffuse impact on the direction as well as the specific content of the report. The committee also recognized the advantage of commissioning a set of special studies reviewing particular research problems or fields, inasmuch as we were asked not only to identify research areas of high social utility but also to review their present and potential contributions. Our letters therefore referred to these plans for commissioned studies and especially invited suggestions of suitable authors, areas, and problems. We received a very large number of concrete and helpful suggestions in response. These were considered in detail by the committee in its early sessions and led to intensive efforts to arrange suitable pairings of authors and subjects. The studies finally commissioned had in most cases been suggested initially by one or more of the many replies we received. But virtually every subject first went through a process of redefinition by the committee, furthered by discussions with the authors who ultimately undertook the studies. Three of the papers were commissioned jointly with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), which had been asked by the National Science Foundation to select and oversee the production of a group of papers for the five-year outlook report. Because of the timing of the two projects, SSRC assumed primary responsibility for these papers. More than a third of the committee's
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Preface ix meeting time was devoted to the design, selection, and discussion of the entire series of study papers, and the committee is pleased to publish them in conjunction with this report. Numerous references to the papers appear in the report, mainly to illustrate or amplify specific themes and statements. But my review of their origins and treatment is meant to emphasize that the influence of the papers on the committee's thinking was much more pervasive than these citations suggest. We expect that they will be individually useful and informative to interested nonspecialists, and we also believe that in the aggregate they strongly sustain the committee's case for the diversity, vitality, and utility of the behavioral and social sciences. It is also a pleasure to acknowledge the efforts of many individuals who have contributed directly to the preparation of the report and the papers. Ernestine Friedl, although not a member of the committee, maintained a special interest in its work as a member of the National Science Board who is also an anthropologist. In this capacity she met and functioned with the committee throughout the study, contributing to the outcome just as a committee member. Drafts of sections of Chapters 2, 3, and 4 were prepared at the committee's request by David P. Campbell, Morris H. DeGroot, Charles B. Perrow, Sherwood L. Washburn, and Julian Wolpert. Others assisted in the review and revision of the report and papers: Brian J. L. Berry, Key Dismukes, John Ferejohn, Morris Fiorina, Rod Gretlein, Robert Hennessy, Gerald Kramer, Robert J. Lapham, David Philbean, Michael I. Posner, W. Richard Scott, Susan W. Sherman, Russell Tuttle, and Alexandra K. Wigdor. William H. Kruskal read and commented on an earlier draft of the entire report. Roberta Balstad Miller, of the SSRC staff, closely cooperated with the committee in the selection and securing of the three commissioned papers for which there was some joint responsibility. Donald J. Treiman served as study director for this undertaking from its inception, extending his leave from UCLA in order to do so. The organization and administration of the effort rested largely on his shoulders, and the smoothness and effectiveness of the committee's functioning should be credited in large part to him. Always subject to the candid, perceptive, and sometimes devastating criticisms of the committee, he, Neil Smelser, and I shared primary responsibility for writing of successive drafts. It has been a highly pleasurable as well as educational experience to work with both of them on successive iterations, our-or at any rate my appreciation of the issues changing as well as deepening in the process. Both personally and on behalf of the committee as a whole, I should like to acknowledge a special debt of gratitude to Treiman for a major contribution, without which this report might not have been possible. Thanks are also owing to other members of the National Research Council
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x Preface staff. Patricia A. Roos served as research associate to the committee, ably assisting in the coordination of its work until taking up an academic position in September 1981. Rose S. Kaufman was most helpful as the committee's administrative secretary, thoughtfully arranging the details of its meetings and typing its report. David A. Goslin, executive director of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, and Eugenia Grohman, associate director for reports for the Commission, read earlier drafts of the report and made many valuable suggestions. Christine L. McShane, editor for the Commission, has made a significant contribution in matters of substance as well as style. Dean R. Gerstein, who will succeed Treiman as study director upon submission of this report, offered useful criticisms during the final editing and coordinated the completion of the commissioned papers. Finally, it is a pleasure to record my thanks to the committee as a whole for its common acceptance and collegial execution of a challenging respon- sibility. Perhaps there was some initial floundering before we found ways to articulate the separate outlooks and bodies of experience that we brought to the assignment, but the discourse that quickly evolved was as balanced, mutually considerate and consistently constructive as it was wide-ranging. One sometimes hears dismissals of studies like this as "only" committee reports, and sometimes such negative appraisals are justified. But a task like' this one could not have been undertaken without the cooperative effort of a group. And I cannot imagine that a stronger, more critical, and yet also more harmonious group could have been induced to come together and do it. ROBERT MCC. ADAMS, Chair Committee on Basic Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences
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Contents INTRODUCTION Value, Significance, and Social Utility, 1 Organization of the Report, 3 Relationship of This Report to Previous Studies, 4 The Behavioral and Social Sciences, 6 2 THE NATURE AND METHODS OF THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES The Behavioral and Social Science Disciplines, 9 Psychology, 9 Sociology, 10 Anthropology, 11 Economics, 13 Political Science, 15 Geography, 17 History, 17 Statistics, 18 Dynamics of Development in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, 21 Specialization, 21 Improvement of Data, 22 X1 8
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. . X11 Shifts in Conceptual and Theoretical Focus, 23 Interdisciplinary Ferment, 25 A Final Word, 26 Explanatory Modes and Methods in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, 26 Experimentation, 28, Statistical Control, 29 Statistically Uncontrolled Observation, 31 3 KNOWLEDGE FROM THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES: EXAMPLES Voting, 34 History of the Family, 37 Behavior and Health, 40 Direct Psychophysiological Effects, 40 Health-Impairing Habits and Life-Styles, 41 Reactions to Illness and the Sick Role, 42 Primary Groups in Large-Scale Society, 42 The Analysis of Status Attainment, 44 Information Processing Psychology, 47 Origins of Agriculture, 50 Social Choice, 54 Human Origins, 57 Social Behavior of Monkeys and Apes, 60 4 THE USES OF SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH Information-Generating Technologies, 63 Sample Surveys, 64 Standardized Testing, 67 Economic Data and Economic Models, 70 Changes in the Way We Do Things, 73 Human Factors Applications, 73 Applications of Learning Theory, 75 Organizational Analysis, 77 Resource Allocation, 79 Locational Analysis, 81 Program and Policy Evaluation, 83 Changes in the Way We Think About Things, 85 The Changing Conception of Race and Ethnicity, 86 The Function of Social Science Labeling, 89 Contents 33 63
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Contents THE NATIONAL INTEREST IN THE SUPPORT OF BASIC RESEARCH Conclusions, 93 Additional Conclusions, 99 Summary, 101 REFERENCES APPENDIXES A CONTENTS OF PART II B BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND STAFF . . . X111 93 103 115 117
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