When Congress created the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) in July, 1995, it gave the task to create definitions relevant to its mission. The definition of basic behavioral and social science research (b-BSSR) was developed in 1996 in consultation through a public process involving behavioral and social scientists and professional societies. The intent is that the definition will evolve as OppNet's initiatives move forward. Until that time, the working definition is “b-BSSR furthers our understanding of fundamental mechanisms and patterns of behavioral and social functioning, relevant to the Nation’s health and well-being, and as they interact with each other, with biology and the environment.”
Basic behavioral and social science research includes research on social and behavioral processes; interactions between biology, behavior and social processes; and/or methodology and measurement. For NIH purposes, the term behavioral refers to overt actions; to underlying psychological processes such as cognition, emotion, temperament and motivation; and to biobehavioral interactions. The term social encompasses sociocultural, socioeconomic and sociodemographic status; biosocial interactions; and the various levels of social context, from small groups to complex cultural systems and societal influences.
NIH considers basic behavioral and social science research (bBSSR) in three broad categories:
- Research on behavioral and social mechanisms and processes,
- Biopsychosocial research, and
- Novel research in methodology and measurement.
Though OppNet defers from imposing a definition on the field, OppNet uses the following statement to guide the concepts it develops toward funding opportunity announcements: b-BSSR furthers our understanding of fundamental mechanisms and patterns of behavioral and social functioning, relevant to the Nation’s health and wellbeing, and as they interact with each other, with biology, and with the environment.
The complete definition of basic behavioral and social science research utilized by the NIH is available on the website of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR): https://obssr.od.nih.gov/about/bssr-definition-archived/