On December 7, 1980, representatives of eight scientific societies meeting in Chicago joined forces to promote their disciplines, thus establishing FABBS (formerly known as the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences).
Learn more about how to join FABBS and support our mission.
FABBS Changes with the Times
1980s – Defending Budgets Through Education
In the early 1980s, the Reagan administration sought to cut funding for the psychological and social sciences in favor of mathematics and computer science. During that time, FABBS worked to educate Members of Congress and federal agencies about the behavioral sciences, hosting briefings and luncheons on Capitol Hill, too often playing defense to protect budgets.
1990s – Achieving Federal Recognition of Our Sciences
The 1990s came with a series of successes for behavioral and brain sciences, most namely, recognition from federal agencies. The National Science Foundation established the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Sciences in 1991. Then, in 1993 Congress established the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) within the National Institutes of Health. Its founding demonstrated growing public acceptance that behavioral and social science factors greatly impact public health. FABBS worked closely with federal officials and collaborated with sister scientific societies to stand up SBE and OBSSR.
2000s – Expanding Funding and Advancing Rigor
Growth in the disciplines continued into the 2000s. Notably, in 2009, the NIH Common Fund established the Science of Behavioral Change (SOBC) Program which channeled funding to the behavioral sciences. SOBC’s objective is to promote behavioral change science with an emphasis on processes and the incorporation of fundamental research into applied/ interventional research. FABBS societies have worked alongside the Common Fund for years in various capacities such as serving on panels.
2010s – Doubling-Down on Communication
Unfortunately, in the 2010s, the behavioral and social sciences (along with geophysical sciences) became a target for budget cuts and ridicule by some leading Members of Congress, including Chair of the House Science Committee Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX). Shifting back to defense, FABBS efforts in these years focused on educating Members to understand the value of our disciplines and working with the broad scientific community establishing behavioral science as a STEM discipline at NSF. In 2014, while FABBS President elect, Dr. Susan Fiske, stood up the FABBS journal, Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. PIBBS features policy relevant research in digestible formats for policymakers. Contributing to it is a benefit to member societies.
2020s – Now More Than Ever
As we enter the 2020s, COVID has shined a bright light on the importance of behavioral and brain sciences. Our members watched with appreciation – and frustration – as Dr. Francis Collins reflected on his time at the NIH, stating:
“You know, maybe we underinvested in research on human behavior. I never imagined a year ago, when those vaccines were just proving to be fantastically safe and effective, that we would still have 60 million people who had not taken advantage of them because of misinformation and disinformation that somehow dominated all of the ways in which people were getting their answers. And a lot of those answers were, in fact, false. And we have lost so much as a result of that.”
FABBS hopes to build on this new appreciation of the behavioral sciences and is actively engaged, working to incorporate our disciplines into the fabric of the newly formed Advanced Research Projects Agency in Health. APRA-H aims to revolutionize health prevention, treatments, and cures to various diseases.
More About Us
Learn more about our leadership, governance, and our scientist honorees at different career stages who work to enhance our understanding of the behavioral and brain sciences.