Growth of behaviouralism is the outcome of varied reasons marked mainly by a dissatisfaction with prevailing historical descriptive, legal-formal, and normative perspectives. In 1908, Graham Wallas (Human Nature in Politics) and Arthur F. Bentley (The Process of Government) advocated psychological and group-oriented approaches. Walter Lippmann (Public Opinion) in 1922 took up the study of public opinion and political attitude-formation.
In 1951, David B. Truman revived Bentley’s neglected orientation in his the Governmental Process. But the pioneering efforts were made by Charles E. Merriam (New Aspects of Politics, 1925) in early 1920s. His efforts came out in the form of famous ‘Chicago School’ which produced a host of political scientists, such as Harold F. Gosnell, Harold D. Lasswell, V.O. Key, Herbert A. Simon, Gabriel Almond, etc. In 1928, Stuart A. Rice (Quantitative Methods in Politics) used statistical techniques in election and roll-call studies.
In 1930s, a group of European scholars like Marx, Durkheim, Freud, Pareto, Mosca, Michels, Weber etc., in view of rising totalitarian regimes and other crises, presented ‘macro’ or broad approaches. But Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Theodore W. Adorno, etc., remained interested in the ‘individual’ as the unit of analysis.
So far behaviouralism remained only a ‘movement of protest’ against traditional methods of analysis. After the World War II, the movement came out in the form of an academic revolution. It was the result of interest taken by the Social Science Research Council and the^ American Political Science Association, and other social scientists belonging to Europe and Japan. New departments, chairs, professorships, project studies, etc., were started in most of American universities.
Behaviouralism very soon became an irresistible, pervasive influence everywhere. David Easton, Karl Deutsch, Robert A. Dahl, Heinz Eulau and others led the behavioural persuasion in almost every branch of Political Science. The discipline was soon thronged with new theories, approaches, paradigms, and methodological tools and techniques.
Evolution of behaviouralism has witnessed certain trends also. In its first phase (1920-30), it paid more attention to quantitative aspects and less on substantive and theoretical problems. In its second phase, upto 1950, behaviouralists moved in both substantive and non-substantive areas. After that, they began to specialise in various directions: multi-methodologism, behavioural theories, behavioural positivism and Watsonian behaviouralism.
In the sixties, behaviouralists themselves were split as:
(i) Theoretical behaviouralists, and
(ii) Positive behaviouralists.
The latter were enamoured of mathematical techniques, multi-variate analysis and other quantitative strategies. Theoretical behaviouralists criticised them severely as having been only interested in general properties of human behaviour, imposing irrelevant models upon reality, inventing a jargon, and were unable to advance solutions to human problems. Of late, both of them are gradually coming closer to each other. Behaviouralism can also be broadly divided as (a) pure behaviouralism, and (b) applied behaviouralism.
Pure behaviouralism aims at contributing to theory and techniques of the discipline, and remains ready to study any problem its purpose is ‘pure research’, or knowledge for the sake of knowledge, seeking generalisations on the basis of technical judgements. It tries to gather all relevant facts for knowing the ‘basic processes’, and to say ‘why things so happen.’ The purists have their own technical language and a limited audience of their own persuasion.
Applied behaviouralists take up problems of important social consequences and collaborate with several disciplines to solve them. Often they behave like social reformers, administrators or engineers and have some consideration towards persons and situations. They take up cases without any intent to generalise, and accept importance of the role of differences. Such researches are interested in ‘how’ can the things be changed; as such, they collect directly related facts.
Applied behaviouralists report in common language, and have wider audience of practitioners and their clientele is large. Their aim is to solve practical problems and they regard their job as a useful profession. Though the two types of researches are distinctly separate, yet, in principle, can be mixed up in a person or a team of researchers.
All later developments, in the beginning, have made, behaviourahsm, consequently. Political Science itself an ‘Interdisciplinary’ subject. It has gone from individual to groups and systems, techniques to theory, politics to social sciences, and outward human behaviour to ecology, bio-politics and genetics.
Some of the scholars like Norman Jacobson are worried about the independent status of the discipline ‘that politics is psychology, or it is sociology, that it is moral philosophy or theology, almost anything but politics.’ Hence, tracing out the elements of ‘polities’ in human behaviour becomes an urgent necessity to make Political Science ‘trans-disciplinary’, meta-theoretical or overarching.