In our ever-evolving world, understanding human behavior lies at the core of numerous aspects of our lives, from personal relationships to professional endeavors. Applied behavioral science, a multidisciplinary field that draws from psychology, sociology, and anthropology, among other disciplines, offers valuable insights into the intricate workings of human behavior and provides practical solutions to help shape and influence it.

By exploring the interplay between thoughts, emotions, and actions, applied behavioral science enables us to unravel the mysteries of human behavior, uncover underlying motivations, and implement effective strategies to drive positive change. With applications in a variety of fields — including education, health care, criminal justice, sociology, and more — this degree will equip you with a diverse set of skills. 

What Is Applied Behavioral Science?

To start things off, applied behavioral science refers to the practical application of knowledge and principles from various behavioral science disciplines, according to the National Library of Medicine. These include fields such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics. The purpose is to understand, predict, and modify human behavior in real-world settings. Applied behavioral science focuses on studying and analyzing human behavior within specific contexts, with the aim of improving individual and group outcomes.

Applied behavioral science utilizes empirical research methods and evidence-based practices to develop interventions, strategies, and policies that can bring about positive changes in behavior, enhance decision-making processes, and promote overall well-being in individuals, organizations, and communities. By combining theoretical frameworks with practical applications, the field seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice, effectively translating scientific knowledge into tangible solutions that address real-world challenges.

What Is the Goal of Applied Behavioral Science?

The objective of applied behavioral science is to apply insights and principles derived from disciplines within behavioral sciences to comprehend, forecast, and help shape behavior in real-world contexts. Its aim is to enhance individual and collective outcomes — such as productivity, well-being, and satisfaction — by formulating strategies and interventions that elicit behavioral changes.

Through a comprehensive understanding of the underlying drivers of behavior, including beliefs, social norms, and environmental influences, applied behavioral science endeavors to develop interventions capable of promoting favorable behavioral modifications. By combining scientific knowledge with practical applications, this field equips individuals, organizations, and communities with powerful tools and strategies to tackle challenges and achieve goals. Applied behavioral science wields the capacity to harness the inherent power of behavior, elevating the quality of life for individuals and society at large.

How Is Applied Behavioral Science Different from Psychology?

The fields of applied behavioral science and psychology are clearly intertwined, but with some notable differences. According to Very Well Mind, psychology is a broad discipline that encompasses the scientific study of the human mind and behavior. It delves into various aspects of cognition, emotions, perception, personality, and mental processes. Psychology seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms that drive behavior, thoughts, and emotions through empirical research and theoretical frameworks.

Applied behavioral science, meanwhile, is a specific application of psychological principles and insights in real-world settings that focuses on utilizing knowledge from other disciplines to address practical problems and improve outcomes in specific contexts. It closes the gap between theory and practice by using verifiable research methods and evidence-based interventions to attempt to modify behavior and achieve desired outcomes. Applied behavioral science emphasizes the application of psychological principles to develop strategies, interventions, and policies that can lead to behavior change and improve individual and group outcomes.

What Can You Do With a Degree in Applied Behavioral Science?

With a broad understanding and exposure to diverse ways of thinking, a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science can set you up to succeed in any of the following career paths:

  • Advocate: An advocate is an individual who supports and represents the rights and interests of others, particularly those who may be marginalized or facing challenges. They work to ensure that individuals have access to necessary resources, services, and opportunities.
  • Social and human services assistant: A social and human services assistant provides support to social workers, psychologists, and other professionals in the field of social services.
  • Social and community service managers: A social and community service manager oversees and coordinates programs and organizations that provide social services to individuals and communities.
  • Family resource coordinator: A family resource coordinator is responsible for connecting families with community resources and support services.
  • Youth services specialist: A youth services specialist works with young people — typically in community organizations or government agencies — to address their unique needs and promote their well-being.
  • Residential care assistant: A residential care assistant provides care and support to individuals residing in group homes, residential treatment centers, or similar settings.
  • Case manager: A case manager is responsible for coordinating and managing services for individuals or families facing various challenges, such as health care issues, mental health concerns, or homelessness.
  • Community and social service specialist: A community and social service specialist works in various capacities within the social services sector.
  • Mental health assistant or behavioral health technician: A mental health assistant or behavioral health technician assists mental health professionals in providing care and support to individuals with mental health disabilities.
  • Mental health aide: A mental health aide works under the supervision of mental health professionals, providing support to individuals with mental health disabilities.
  • Human resources specialist: A human resources specialist is responsible for managing various aspects of an organization’s human resources functions.
  • Probation officer or correctional specialist: Probation officers and correctional specialists work in the criminal justice system and are responsible for supervising individuals on probation or parole.
  • Social services: Social services includes a wide range of support and assistance programs provided to individuals and communities.
  • Human services: Human services refers to a broad field that encompasses a range of professions and programs aimed at meeting the social, psychological, and practical needs of individuals and communities.
  • Business: A career in business offers diverse opportunities across industries includes roles in management, finance, marketing, operations, and more.

What Is the Salary for Applied Behavioral Science?

The salary for individuals with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Applied Behavioral Science can vary depending on several factors, including job role, industry, location, level of experience, and additional qualifications. Since applied behavioral science is a multidisciplinary field, specific job titles and corresponding salaries vary by the various paths you might choose to pursue. Take, for instance, the field of business. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) shows the vast differences in salary for those with a BA in applied behavioral science, should you pursue business as a career. 

What Is the Job Outlook?

Similar to salary projections, the job outlook for professionals with a BA in applied behavioral science can vary depending on factors such as geographic location, industry demand, and individual qualifications. With a BA in applied behavioral science, individuals may pursue various career paths such as behavior technician, case manager, social and human service assistant, youth services specialist, or community support specialist. Additionally, some graduates may choose to further their education and pursue advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis, to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts or advance their careers in specialized areas. 

Looking at one path you might pursue, for example, the employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow by 12% through 2031, which is faster than average for all occupations. Demand for these professionals is driven by the increasing need for assistance in social service agencies, rehabilitation centers, and community organizations.

Overview: What Is Applied Behavioral Science?

It’s important to note that specific job prospects and salary levels for someone with a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science can vary depending on location, experience, additional qualifications, and the demand within specific industries. Conducting targeted research, exploring job market trends, and networking with professionals in the field can provide valuable insights into the job outlook for professionals with a BA in applied behavioral science in a particular area or industry. Pursuing the degree opens up a variety of options and equips you with a diverse set of skills.


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