Alexander American University
School of Medicine

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Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Behavioral science is the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic observation and disciplined scientific experimentation. It attempts to accomplish legitimate, objective conclusions through rigorous formulations and observation. Examples of behavioural sciences include psychology, psychobiology, criminology, sociology and cognitive science.

The term behavioural sciences is often confused with the term social sciences. Though these two broad areas are interrelated and study systematic processes of behaviour, they differ on their level of scientific analysis of various dimensions of behaviour. "Behavioural science focuses on the behavior of human beings and animals whereas social sciences focus on the human being in the social context" (Difference Between, 2015).

Behavioural 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, social neuroscience and cognitive science. In contrast, social sciences provide a perceptive framework to study the processes of a social system through impacts of social organisation on structural adjustment of the individual and of groups. They typically include fields like sociology, economics, public health, anthropology, demography and political science.

However, many subfields of these disciplines cross the boundaries of behavioral and social. For example, political psychology and behavioral economics use behavioral approaches, despite the predominant focus on systemic and institutional factors in the broader fields of political science and economics.