Features of Behaviouralism in Political Science

Here is an article on the topic of Features of Behaviouralism in Political Science. In includes 8 characteristics of behaviourism theory

Features of Behaviouralism in Political Science
According to David Easton, the basic assumption of behaviourism would be located in what he calls the intellectual foundations of political behaviour.  These assumptions are:
  1. Regularities
  2. Verification
  3. Techniques
  4. Quantification
  5. Values
  6. Systematization
  7. Pure Science; and
  8. Integration 

Regularities

Behaviouralists argue that there are certain discernable uniformities in political behaviour, which can be expressed in generalization of theories.  In order to explain and predict political phenomenon, this assertion is anchored on the premise that human behaviour is more or less similar in certain respects under given conditions.  Essentially therefore, the task of the researcher is to engage himself to finding out the existence of regularities.  This process will facilitate to explain and predict the political phenomena and in the ultimate analysis, will make political science a truly scientific discipline with explanatory and predictive values

Verification

It is the contention of the behaviouralist that for knowledge to be valid, it must consist of propositions that have been subjected to empirical investigation.  To be sure, the validity of all propositions depends on their capacity to be tested.

Techniques

A distinguishing feature of behaviourism is its emphasis on the correct techniques for acquiring and interpreting data.  This is not so with traditionalist that lay emphasis on mere description of political events.  The specific research tools adopted by behaviouralists ensure valid, reliable and comparative data.  This includes multi-varied samples of a mathematical model and simulation, etc.

Quantification

This expresses the importance of not only generating data but also of measuring and quantifying same.  Quantification and measurement is the essential ingredient that determines the scientific nature of data.  This helps to verify the conclusion or impression of the researcher.

Values

In behavioural approach, facts are usually separated from values.  They must be studied separately or even in combination but should not be mixed up with one another.  There should be a clear-cut line of distinction between ethical evaluation and empirical explanation.  One of the major points of disagreement between the behaviouralist and the traditionalist is on the question of value-neutrality.  Scientific enquiry in order to be objective must be value-free.  Political science is a scientific study of politics in its functional aspect carried through empirical methods and therefore has nothing to do with morals or ethical question.

Systematization

In bahavioualist approach, research will be systematic.  That is to say that research must be theory-oriented and theory-directed.  The theory and research should form part of a closely interrelated, coherent and orderly body of knowledge.  Theory should consist of analysis, explanation and prediction instead of being speculative.

Pure Science

The pure scientific nature of behavioural approach is that theory and its application are part of the scientific endeavor.  Hence, research should be of pure type.  The understanding and explanation of political behaviour, logically precedes and in the ultimate analysis, provides the basis for efforts to utilize such knowledge in the solution of urgent political problems of society.  Research should be perfectly verifiable by evidence.

Integration

The behaviouralist argues for the use of interdisciplinary approach.  As one of the social sciences, political science should be integrated with other social sciences in order to enhance understanding.
Meanwhile, E. Kirk-Patrick asserts that there are four (4) characteristics of behaviouralism that are of utmost importance:
  • Behavioural movement is a rejection of political institutions as the basic conceptual units and a substitution of the individual and group behaviour.
  • It is an emphasis on the unity of social sciences, hence an increased willingness to cross-disciplinary lines
  • It lays more emphasis on precisions, measurements and quantitative technique
  • It seeks to develop systematic empirical theory.

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