Social scientists study all aspects of human society, from past events and achievements to human behavior and relationships among groups. Their research provides insights that help us understand the different ways in which individuals and groups make decisions, exercise power, or respond to change. Through their studies and analyses, social scientists assist educators, government officials, business leaders, and others in solving social, economic, and environmental problems.
Research is one of the primary activities of many social scientists, who use established or newly developed methods to assemble facts and theories that contribute to human knowledge. Applied research is usually designed to produce information that will enable people to make better decisions or manage their lives more effectively. Interviews and surveys are used to collect facts, opinions, or other information. Data collection takes many other forms, however, including living and working among the people studied; archaeological and other field investigations; analyzing historical records and documents; experimenting with human subjects or animals in a psychological laboratory; administering
standardized tests and questionnaires; and preparing and interpreting maps and graphic materials.