NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences supports basic research on people and society. The SBE sciences focus on human behavior and social organizations and how social, economic, political, cultural, and environmental forces affect the lives of people from birth to old age and how people in turn shape those forces. SBE scientists develop and employ rigorous methods to discover fundamental principles of human behavior at levels ranging from cells to society, from neurons to neighborhoods, and across space and time. Such fundamental principles help us understand patterns of stability and change at the individual, group, organizational, and societal levels that can be applied to promote the progress of science and to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare. Through its various core disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs, as well as contributions to cross-directorate NSF investments, SBE supports approximately 5,000 scientists, educators, and students in a typical year. Understanding human behavior individually and in groups has far-reaching impacts from optimizing child development to safeguarding our troops; from exploring the origins of our species to finding our way with GPS; from understanding the state of the science and engineering enterprise to securing cyberspace.

Presented by: Rebecca Ferrell