Social Sciences

Cultural and Behavioral Science

Dr. Lisa Troyer
(919) 549-4230

The goal of this program is to gain a better theoretical understanding of human behavior through the development of mathematical, computational, statistical, simulation, and other models that provide fundamental insights into factors contributing to human sociocultural dynamics. This program is divided into two research thrusts: (1) Predicting Human Behavior, and (2) Complex Human Social Systems. Within these thrusts, high-risk–high-payoff research efforts are identified and supported to pursue the program'slong-term goal. The program supports scientific research that focuses on the basic theoretical foundations of human behavior at various levels (from individual actors to whole societies) and across various temporal and spatial scales. This includes, but is not limited to, research on the evolution and dynamics of social systems and organizations; human adaptation and response to both natural and human-induced perturbations (e.g., global climate change, mass migration, war, and attempts at democratization); interactions between human and natural systems; the role of culture and cognition in accounting for variations in human behavior; human decision-making under risk and uncertainty; the search for organizing principles in social networks; and the emergent and latent properties of dynamic social systems and networks. The research involves a wide range of approaches, including computational modeling, mathematical modeling, agent-based simulations, econometric modeling, and statistical modeling—to name a few. The program also recognizes the fact that the building and validation of models in the social sciences are often limited by the availability of adequate and appropriate sources of primary data. Thus some of the supported research includes the collection of primary data for the development and testing of models. Finally, the program also supports research in the development of methodologies (e.g., measurement, data collection, statistical methods, and research designs) that have the potential to help advance our scientific understanding of human behavior. Research focuses on high-risk approaches involving highly complex scientific problems in the social sciences. Despite these risks, the research must have the potential to make significant contributions to the U.S. Army through applications that will, for example, improve decision-making at various levels (policy, combat operations, etc.); create real-time, computer-based cultural–situational awareness systems for tactical decision-making; increase the predictability of an adversary's intent; and produce integrated data and modeling in situ for rapid sociocultural assessment in conflict zones and in humanitarian efforts.

Institutional and Organizational Science

Dr. Lisa Troyer
(919) 549-4230

The objective of this program is to understand the emergence, maintenance, and evolution of human organizations and institutions, including but not limited to societies, states, religions, markets, economic systems, legal systems, bureaucracies, political parties, social movements, and formal and informal networks. Currently, subject-matter expertise—which varies in quality and is subjective and sometimes unreliable—is the main tool of the policy- and decision-makers in this area. Social-scientific analysis, when applied, is applied post hoc once crises are over to provide important insights and lessons learned, but are not employed to anticipate crises or evaluate social change in real time. This is, to a large degree, because current methods for collecting and analyzing data are too time-consuming and costly to employ until an area of operation and specific research question are identified.

Two specific goals of this program are (1) to identify general theory, abstracted from the details of particular social contexts, to be used universally to anticipate crises or change, and (2) to make data collection and analysis less costly and sufficiently efficient to render feasible the consistent monitoring of events around the globe. Research projects in this program can include a broad range of approaches including empirical that require primary data collection (such as random control trials, quasi-experiments, field experiments, surveys, and comparative and observational studies) as well as the use of secondary data sources (such as archival data or news reports) and also formal, mathematical, or computational approaches. Of special interest is research on the reciprocal effect of individuals on institutions and institutions on people: How do institutions shape attitudes and opportunities and constrain behavior, and how do the choices and actions of people and groups impact and change institutions? The development of a systematic and efficient approach to the collection and analysis of data in order to describe fundamental social processes and detect changes in institutional structures can provide military decision-makers with the means to understand and anticipate the decisions and activities that impact U.S. interests and national security.

Social Informatics

Dr. Edward Palazzolo
(845) 938-4234

The Social Informatics program seeks to quantify technology-based, social-interaction phenomena; develop metrics for the quantified phenomena; and develop forensic and predictive analytical and computational models based on these quantifications and metrics. The goal is to discover the quantifiable principles underlying technology-based social interaction, particularly as it relates to asymmetric defense.


Last Update / Reviewed: March 7, 2016