Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45

Behavioral Science As A Career

Shailendra Kumar

Studies in behavioral sciences teach students about human decision-making and communications in group and individual contexts. Studying a behavior is not easy. Behavioral science basically studies the behavior of both human and animal in the controlled and naturalistic world. Behavioral science got its start some time ago, when people began to study one another and the animals that they shared their world with. Psychologists and social neuroscientists, among others, were fascinated by the communication strategies and the decision processes that people had with one another and with the creatures that surrounded them. They were also fascinated by the way, people interacted with themselves and came to decisions regarding various issues in their lives. This fascination led to what is today termed behavioral science

The Scientific Discipline

Behavioral science is split into two broad categories: that of neural-decision sciences and the social-communication sciences. The decision sciences deal with how our decisions and our anatomy interact with each other. How we decide what action to take in order to survive in a social environment. The communication sciences on the other hand analyze the impact of language and communication on our society, relationships and our bodies. If you choose to focus on communication, you will go deeper into anthropology, organizational behavior, organizational studies, sociology and social networks.



   An understanding of ourselves and other around us helps to shape the way that the world works and how it moves forward. Careers within the behavioral science field are also essential for tying together social sciences and natural sciences. By bringing these two areas to a crossroad, further exploration into both areas and further collaboration between them will be more likely. This will benefit many people throughout the world by promoting new theories and discoveries

Difference between Behavioral Sciences and Social Sciences

The term behavioral science is often confused with the term social sciences. Though these two broad areas are inter-related and study systematic processes of behavior, they differ on their level of scientific analysis of various dimensions of behavior. Behavioral sciences abstract empirical data to investigate the decision processes and communication strategies within and between organisms in a social system. This involves fields like psychology and social neuroscience, among others. In contrast, social sciences provide a perceptive framework to study the processes of a social system through impacts of social organization on structural adjustment of the individual and of groups. They typically include fields like sociology, economics, history, counseling, public health, anthropology, and political science.


   For those who seek a career in behavioral science, the benefits can be great. The study of human beings is generally one that is very interesting and helps to foster understanding between different people and different cultures. By studying both similarities and differences it is possible to find common ground and help individuals work together on projects and ideas that can benefit everyone involved in the project as well as others in the world. This is part of what a career in behavioral science has to offer to the right person


Many people do not realize the strong potential that comes with a career in behavioral science. Wars and other atrocities often come about because people cannot find some common ground. Behavioral scientists work to find that common ground among people and to find out what individuals need and want in their dealings with others and with themselves. That does not mean that behavioral science careers involve working with the military or trying to stop war, but that the main goal of behavioral science careers is to develop a better understanding about why people act the way they do.

What is Behavioral Science?

Behavioral Science is a discipline that lets you get into these following areas of learning:

  • Psychology is an applied and academic study of how people think and behave in terms of thought process, emotional response and a gamut of behavioral issues. Many people who work in Psychology deal with mental health and coping issues that people go through daily. Even the quest for a better life is something that has to do with psychology. To become a practicing psychologist, you almost always need to have a Doctor of Psychology or Ph.D. All states traditionally require psychologists who see patients to have a license or certification.
  • Sociology studies society and how individuals who make up the society influences attitudes, responses and opportunities. Sociologists profile people according to class, age, sex, religion and ethnicity. Also included are institutional leaning such as politics, economics, religion and affiliations. A Masters Degree or a Ph.D in sociology is usually necessary, but majoring in behavioral sciences at a university can provide a solid educational beginning.
  • Anthropology is an exciting branch of Behavioral Science that details the biological and socio-cultural history of mankind. If you are into this kind of exploration, go into archaeology, bioanthropology, linguistics and socio-cultural anthropology. There are many interesting Behavioral Science projects in this branch of the field. A Bachelors degree in the behavioral sciences can be a strong starting point to continue on to a master’s degree or Ph.D in anthropology.
  • Social Networks study how groups, organizations and communities are formed. Perhaps one of the more prevalent social networks that people can easily grasp in the ones they use on a daily basis like Face book, Twitter, Multiply and other popular social media that millions of people use to communicate.
  • Ethnology: A zoological science, ethnologists study animal behavior, specifically instinctual rather than learned behavior. Ethnology, as a part of behavioral science, instead looks at instinctual behavior in humans.
  • Neuromarketing: This new field uses neuroscience to study consumer behavior, but it’s extremely small in the private sector at this time.
  • Public-Opinion Research: Behavioral science can better explain influences on public opinion and how it forms.
  • Health Education/Public Health: Behavioral science comes into play here in helping people make healthier choices for themselves. This can often involve community-wide education initiatives on topics as diverse disease prevention, nutrition, drugs and alcohol abuse, or even the quality of life for senior citizens.


Human nature is dynamic and unpredictable but a behavioral scientist must adapt and understand the dynamic changes in the society; be it individual, group or social changes. Conversation is very important for a behavioral scientist in order to understand his subjects and thus require superior interpersonal communication skills. While studying organizations, behavioral scientists must understand the professional ethics of the organization on one hand while maintaining the integrity of the profession (behavioral science) on the other hand. Data analysis is yet another important function in behavioral science. Behavioral scientists need to analyze the data through advanced computer applications to test the data and convert it into theories. A behavioral scientist must contain good presentation and writing skills to facilitate their findings and research to lay person or a vast audience lacking behavioral science knowledge. Human behavior is dynamic and thus creating a fixed theory for a behavioral scientist is not possible thus in order to create a theory he has to be on field , critically evaluate the problems and solve them, as the problems change the theory also changes from time to time. While creating the theories a behavioral scientist must compare his research with other behavioral scientist in order to get an effective theory.

Job Prospects

Career option for a behavioral scientist include those in Anthropology, Ethnology, as a Criminologist, Criminal Profiler, Psychology, Sociologist, Corporate Coach, Economic Analyst, Market Researcher, Neuro-marketing and Health Education/Public Health. Anthropologists are employed either by government or non-profit organization. Their task is analyzing the impact of factors like geography, evolution, character on the group of people. They help understanding the root cause of social evils like crime, poverty and social unrest thus enabling government with development programs appealing diverse population. Ethnologist’s job is to study instinctual behavior of human and animals. Like anthropologist; Criminologists also study the root cause of crime by examining the factors like economics, demo-graphics and geography thus enabling the prevention in crime rate. Criminal profiler try to understand the reason why a particular person landed in crime, they can also track them down from the crime world. Psychologists study individual human behavior. Sociologist study social behavior, by understanding the socio-cultural environment, sociologists help eradicating problems like poverty or violence in the communities. A sociologist can employ himself as social worker or join some NGO (non-governmental organization). In a growing competitive environment it’s hard to gauge talent a corporate coach helps recruiting talented people enabling company’s better success. Economic analyst help understanding consumer’s decision-making process thus enabling businessman to market their product and government to apply pressure on markets. An economic analyst can be employed by business organiza-tions or government bodies. A market researcher like economic analyst understands the costumers analyzing process before buying a product. A market researcher is employed by business organization to understand the market. In small scale private sectors neuro-marketing has evolved, here behavioral scientists take neuro-science help in order to study consumer behavior. Topics like prevention from various disease, drug and alcohol abuse or nutrition, special care for senior citizens is basically dealt in health education or public health department where behavioral scientists enables with better health choice for people.


Behavioral scientists receive very good remuneration. Those employed in public sector, research institutions and departments have pay packages as per the terms and conditions of the government. Those are in international developmental agencies have even higher remuneration, perks and other benefits. Corporate houses and industries offer various fringe benefits other than salaries and allowance. Professors and teachers in academic institutions also have good pay packages.

The author is Ph.D from Department of Sociology, University of Lucknow, Lucknow. e-mail-

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