Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jürgen W. Falter
The behavioral approach may be characterized as an attempt to conduct political science according to the example of the natural sciences—that is to describe, explain, and predict political phenomena as exactly as possible. It is the goal of behavioralism to gain scientifically valid—that is, methodically secured—generalizations on its subject. This method is not unique to the field of the social sciences; this application of the natural sciences to political science must be interpreted as being a part of a greater movement of which—despite great changes—all social sciences have become a part. From this point of view, behavioralism is a phenomenon of general social scientific empiricism that has found and still finds many supporters particularly in the United States. This entry reviews the beginnings of behavioralism and its evolution in the mid-20th century as a movement that reshaped the discipline of political science. It traces its emphasis on explanation, prediction, verifiability, ...