Social, Cultural and Behavioral Sciences

What Is It?


Social, Cultural and Behavioral (SCB) Sciences is a program of basic and applied research that creates the capability to understand, model and forecast human behavior, both of potential asymmetric adversaries and of the populations in which they are immersed. The domain of interest extends across diverse geopolitical regions and ranges from the analysis of individual behaviors to those of social networks and entire societies.

How Does It Work?


The SCB Sciences program aims to develop affordable, empirically informed and validated computational models of the socio-cultural determinants of the opinions, values, attitudes and actions of individuals and groups in culturally distinct societies.

What Will It Accomplish?


A key goal of the SCB Sciences program is the development of socio-culturally informed human behavior theories and models that can serve as effective foundational tools to enhance training, planning and analysis in irregular warfare and stability, security, transition and reconstruction (SSTR) operations as they are carried out in culturally distinct geopolitical environments.

The mission space of the Department of Defense has entered a period of significant growth and change, from traditional state-on-state warfare to irregular warfare and SSTR operations. These changes have been accompanied by a growing awareness that mission success will be strongly dependent on an understanding of the cultural dynamics of the geopolitical regions in which operations are likely to occur.

The primary goal of the newly formed Office of Naval Research’s SCB Sciences program is to understand, model and forecast human behavior in ethnically diverse societies as viewed from perspectives that scale from the individual to organizational to societal levels of understanding, then to develop affordable, empirically informed and validated computational models of the sociocultural determinants of the opinions, values, attitudes and actions of individuals and groups in culturally distinct societies for application by naval analysts, planners, trainers and by the intelligence community in order to:

  • Influence Attitudes: Create strategies to influence the opinions and attitudes of individuals and groups toward terrorism as a political solution and toward the U.S. and its institutions and interests
  • Forecast Reactions:: Forecast terrorist activity and the likely reactions of terrorist organizations to possible U.S. interventions
  • Combat Radicalization: Understand and more effectively combat the radicalization process
  • Reason About Deceiving/Deceivable Agents: Develop systematic approaches for reasoning about the behaviors of asymmetric agents and their networks when they can deceive and be deceived
  • Train: Create synthetic tactical entities to populate simulations for training military decision makers and members of the intelligence community in counter-terrorism, irregular warfare and SSTR operations

Research Opportunities

  • Empirically testable computational models to forecast socio-cultural phenomena
  • Ethnographic datasets to inform and validate models
  • Techniques to infuse socio-cultural modulators into models of individual and collective human behavior
  • Techniques supporting development of algorithms and models to scale from individual to societal levels of understanding

Points of Contact


Harold Hawkins
harold.hawkins@navy.mil

Rebecca Goolsby
rebecca.goolsby@navy.mil

Ivy Estabrooke
ivy.estabrooke@navy.mil

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