Why do we act in a certain way? This question has befuddled parents, teachers, merchants, law enforcement, and government officials since time immemorial. Now we have behavioral science to help in answering this age-old issue.
Behavioral science is about the rigorous and disciplined study of human (and animal) behavior. It’s a very broad term, however, as it includes disciplines such as cognitive science, psychology, psychobiology, anthropology, and criminology.
Behavioral Science in College
Despite the broadness of the term “Behavioral Science”, often the focus is on how and why humans act the way they do and why they make certain decisions. Still, along the way you will probably need to specialize and narrow your focus.
You can concentrate on Social Psychology and learn how people communicate and interact by studying the causes of human behavior. Another specialty is Cognitive Theory which is the study of language within human groupings which can help you understand racism, nationalism, and corporate cultures. Psychobiology studies the pleasure and pain centers of the brain so that the real cause of certain conditions such as obesity and addiction can be uncovered.
For those who wish to work in a corporate setting, there is Management Science which can help you advise business managers on how to work more effectively and reduce risk. Social Neuroscience helps discover the facts behind the “nature versus nurture” debate. Ethology uncovers how raw instinct can affect our decision-making.
Careers in Behavioral Science
If there’s a job in which your knowledge of how and why humans behave the way the way do helps you, then that’s a career opportunity. In private enterprise, your input can be very valuable when the company tries to incorporate operational procedures which take into account the likely behavior and attitudes of employees.
You can also help your company through your knowledge of how the consumer public will react to their products and services. You can help design products so that it can look appealing to buyers, or make sure it has features buyers want. You can also help in the advertising branch, by helping the company frame their approach in selling their products to the consumers.
Other fields you can use your degree in behavioral science include social work and education.
Top Schools for Behavioral Science
Since Behavioral Science is a very broad discipline, if you have a particular field of study in mind (such as psychology or criminology) then you may want to do some research on those particular fields to find the best school for your major. That’s because a school which may have a topnotch Psychology program may not even offer a course in criminology.
You may also want to try to get into Carnegie Mellon University, which offers a Bachelor of Science in Decision Science. This program helps students learn through research how humans make decisions, so that the students can also learn how to predict what those decisions will be.
Another good school is Columbia University, which offers a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience and Behavior. This program concentrates more on how the human nervous system affects a person’s overall behavior.
The highly admired Johns Hopkins University also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Biology. Undergraduates study the various biological and psychological factors that can affect how a person behaves.