Political behavior research has delivered less than the “behavioral revolution” seemed originally to promise. A survey of recent work suggests that the reason is not its epistemological premises (which are accepted here) or its methodology, but (1) its unsystematic, atheoretical character and limited range of research topics, and (2) the erroneous conception of human nature on which research rests. Compared with either the established principles of modern biobehavioral science or the conceptions of human problems of earlier political science, political behavior research remains “pre-behavioral.”
To progress beyond this stage, political scientists must recognize and apply the basic knowledge about human behavior provided by the biobehavioral sciences. Two brief examples of such application are given: how ethological knowledge can supply a needed theoretical perspective for identifying political behavior problems worth studying; and how neurophysiological knowledge, particularly psychophysiology and psychophysics, can correct mistaken conceptions of the relationship between political attitudes, political words, and political actions.