The eight characteristics features of behaviouralism as given by David Easton are as follows: (1) Regularities; (2) Verification; (3) Techniques; (4) Quantification; (5) Values; (6) Systematisation; (7) Pure Science; and (8) Integration.
The behaviouralists hold the opinion that human behaviour, despite its differences, shows some remarkable uniformities in political behaviour, which can be generalised and formulated in a systematic theory. The generalisations reached in Pol. Science can predict political phenomena. Though the political behaviour is determined by so many factors and is not always uniform, yet it has been observed that human beings behave in certain respects in a more or less similar manner on different occasions.
Voting behaviour is the most striking example in this respect. It has been observed that the voters belonging to a particular caste, social status, and economic position of profession vote for the same individual or political party in successive elections. From this some generations can be made and the regularities in the political behaviour can be predicted.
Therefore political behaviouralists contend that in political science results can be explained and predicted. So the behaviouralists claim that Political Science may not be comparable to physics and chemistry in regard to the exactness of its results but certainly it may become comparable to astronomy or biology.
The behaviouralists do not accept anything as granted like the traditionalists. They do not believe in the abstract political theory, rather they verify and test every-thing. Any-thing which cannot verified or tested can be termed only as dogmatic and not scientific. They believe in empirical or scientific results only which can be achieved after scientific verification.
The behaviouralists emphasise the adoption of correct techniques for acquiring and interpreting the scientific data. Only then valid, reliable and comparable data can be achieved. For this purpose they suggest the use of sophistical tools-like the multivariate analysis, sample, surveys, mathematical methods, simulation etc. Vigorously objecting to it the traditionalists point out that data in social sciences can never be objective and that technique should not be exalted at the cost of content.
The behaviouralists contend that a researcher cannot properly explain political phenomena nor can he safely predict a political result for the future without measurement and quantification. For example, David Easton has observed: “Precision in the recording of data and the statement of their findings requires tables, graphs and curves are drawn in behavioural research.” Quantification in the opinion of the traditionalists, on the other hand, is an unattainable goal un-measurable and requires extremely precise concepts and matrices which Political Science does not possess.
It is the greatest point of different between the behaviouralists and the traditionalists over the question of value neutrality. While the behaviouralists believe in value-free study, the traditionalists believe in value-laden study. They contend that any value which cannot be tested empirically is an ethical value.
For example, democracy, equality or freedoms are excellent values to uphold, but their truth or falsity cannot be proved in a scientific manner. Scientific inquiry to be objective, therefore, must be value-free. On the other hand if one prefers to vote for B instead of A, that value can be verified and measured.
This value is, therefore empirical in character. Consequently, the behaviouralists reject only the ethical values and not empirical values. According to them, Political Science is a scientific study of politics in its functional aspect, carried through empirical methods and has nothing to do with moral or ethical questions.
On the other hand the traditionalists hold the opinion that significant political issues invariably involve moral and ethical values and Political Science cannot refuse to show concern with questions of right and wrong, even if it might not be possible to resolve them ‘scientifically.’
Behaviouralism believes that research in Political Science must be systematic by which they mean that it must be “theory oriented and theory-directed”, that theory and research should form as “closely interrelated parts of a coherent and orderly body of knowledge” and that “research, untutored by the theory, may prove trivial and theory, unsupported by data, futile”.
7. Pure Science:
Behaviouralists by and large, insist on what they call “pure science approach”. This means that whatever research they make, that should be applied in solving the problems of mankind. Therefore they apply the scientific theory to the social problems. Behaviouralists also make research in the social problems.
Finally, the behaviouralists believe that social and political phenomena cannot be studied in isolation. It is difficult to draw the exact dividing line between man’s social, economic, political, cultural and other activities and they can be understood only in the wider context of the entire social life of the society.
Therefore, the behaviouralists believe in integrated approach and for this purpose the political scientists have to study other social sciences like sociology, history, economics, anthropology etc. because the study of political phenomena requires one understanding of how the economic, cultural and other phenomena in society are unfolding themselves. In other words it means inter disciplinary approach.