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  In political science a strictly behavioural approach is one in which explanations are based on agents\' overt, expressed and observable behaviour; on ‘what is really going on’ rather than on non-measurable values and motives. Behaviouralists emphasize that theories should be ‘operational’, that is, capable of being empirically tested. For example, some psephologists claim that it is not possible to study scientifically the way people vote through focusing on their (non-observable) subjective feelings or attitudes, but it is possible to measure the impact of objectively defined class, ethnicity and religion upon the way in which people vote.

‘Behaviouralism’ is often used as a generally dismissive description of the work of political scientists who hold crude positivist views or employ mathematical and statistical techniques. Normally such critics of behaviouralism are mathematically if not philosophically illiterate.

Behavioural political science was heavily influential in North American social sciences in the 1950s and 1960s. The skills of political scientists, both in data-collection and data-analysis, have been considerably enhanced as a result of the efforts of behaviouralists. However, few contemporary political scientists would now endorse behaviouralist psychology, the idea that the ‘non-measurable’ and the ‘non-observable’ are not worthy of analytical attention, or the thesis that the formal analysis of legal and constitutional documents has no place in their subject. BO\'L

See also Chicago school.Further reading Martin Landau, Political Theory and Political Science: Studies in the Methodology of Political Inquiry.



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