About SBE

The U.S. National Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) is dedicated to understanding human behavior and improving people's quality of life. It accomplishes this mission by supporting fundamental research on a broad range of topics — from neurons to nations, from evolution to economics and from ancient ruins to artificial intelligence.

SBE-supported scientists develop and employ rigorous methods to discover fundamental principles of human behavior at levels ranging from cells to society and across space and time. The directorate is also home to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), where statisticians analyze surveys to better understand the science and engineering workforce, education, and research and development landscape in the U.S.

SBE research and NCSES surveys reveal patterns at the individual, group, organizational and societal levels that can be applied to promote the progress of science and advance national health, prosperity and welfare.

What we support

SBE provides 63% of the funding for all academic research in social and psychological sciences in the U.S. 

Through its core disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs, as well as contributions to cross-directorate NSF investments, SBE supports approximately 5,000 scientists, educators and students in a typical year.

The directorate's priorities include:

Creating opportunities everywhere

We support broadening participation in social and behavioral sciences, collecting and reporting data on the participation of historically underrepresented groups in STEM and research aimed at understanding inequality, diversity, bias and evidence-based policy.

Strengthening research infrastructure

We support capacity building for research in social, behavioral and economic science; surveys, datasets and other research infrastructure; and data collection about the U.S. science and engineering ecosystem.

Advancing emerging industries

We support research to understand and support the growth of emerging industries that contribute to national and economic security. We also advance research that furthers the development of more responsible technology in emerging fields such as AI.

Building a more resilient planet

We support research on how people interact with their environment and how to make those interactions more sustainable. We also support science that helps individuals and communities adapt to environmental change.

Who we are

SBE's staff includes federal employees and visiting scientists with a wide range of expertise in social, behavioral and economic science research.

Portrait of Kaye Husbands Fealing, Assistant Director (SBE)

Dr. Kaye Husbands Fealing
Assistant Director

Portrait of Evan Heit, Acting Deputy Assistant Director (SBE)

Dr. Evan Heit
Acting Deputy Assistant Director

Divisions and offices

SBE: Your life, our work (1:30)

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