OBSSR Releases Revised Definition of “Behavioral and Social Sciences Research”

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has completed its revision of NIH’s definition of “behavioral and social sciences research” (BSSR) (see previous coverage) after crowdsourcing input from stakeholders. The new definition begins:

“Behavioral and social sciences research at the National Institutes of Health involves the systematic study of behavioral1 and social2 phenomena relevant to health3.

1“Behavioral phenomena” refers to the observable actions of individuals or groups and to mental phenomena such as knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, motivations, perceptions, cognitions, and emotions.

2“Social phenomena” refers to the interactions between and among individuals, and to the characteristics, structures, and functions of social groups and institutions, such as families, communities, schools, and workplaces, as well as the physical, economic, cultural, and policy environments in which social and behavioral phenomena occur.

3”Health” refers to state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (as per WHO).”

The complete definition is posted on the OBSSR website. In an email message announcing the revision, the Office said that “some suggestions, although not reflected in the BSSR definition, will be used to for future blog post topics to share in-depth discussion of the areas of science that are included in the BSSR at NIH.”

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