A Human Behavioural Process Laboratory

A Human Behavioural Process Laboratory (HBPL) is an experimental set-up for a particular period of time to provide opportunities for the participants to look at their own behaviour processes and its impact on others, and learn from this experience as well as others in the group. The involvement in the lab is voluntary. However, the group dynamism invariably will bring everybody to participate in the process. The experience/ learning of the individuals in the Lab could vary. Some may feel totally drained, some may feel rejuvenated, some may feel rejected, some may feel they have discovered their hidden self etc. The process could be extremely painful in the beginning of the `Journey to discover the self’ and enriching at the end. (The facilitator, during this period, goes through his/her own learning process). The facilitator is expected to observe what’ is happening `here and now’.
The basic assumptions of a HBPL are:

  • The search for the true self is an eternal journey.
  • The search is complex, and painful in the first leg of the journey and enriching and  compassionae at the end.
  • The search is internal rather than external to the self.
  • Experiential learning is the best way of adult learning.
  • It helps individual to be better, responsible human beings in different context.
  • It believes that every individual who is participating in the journey wishes to stop, look, and proceed on his/her own self.
  • It believes that all participants do have a willingness to learn.
  • Nobody is `the knowledgeable’. Everybody is in the process of learning.
  • Voluntary participation
  • The focus on the individual rather than others. (What can I do to improve the situation/ behaviour etc. is more important rather than what others do to dampen/impede our efforts) 


  • Confrontation on issues
  • Openness
  • Objectivity in Feed-back
  • Collaboration
  • Trust

The philosophy of a Process Lab can be grounded in the below given formula:

Ds   x   Es   x   Io   =    As
As >   Rc

It provides opportunities to bring out dissatisfactions with the self (Ds), helps to Experience the self (Es), and see the Impact of these behavioural patterns on Others (Io). These processes brings out a better Awareness of self (As) and is proportionate to the other three processes, which is greater than the resistance to change.   It is an evolving process.
Though there is also an opinion that a personalized dynamic processes like this kind cannot be captured in a formula, a basic formula which can bring out the scientific process in an experimental lab can help the facilitators to focus more and learn the intricacies involved better.
A guide for the facilitator is given in Annex- A.
Some of the main terminology used in a Process Lab:

Process:   It means the flow of behavioral expressions in the form of feelings,  understanding etc. of an individual related to the self and others in a group.
Space:  The opportunities given to an individual by the people around to create, and develop his/her own pace of learning. (the underlying principle is that every individual has his/her own pace of learning, and coercing or pressurizing will not yield any better result).
Reaching Out: The willingness/ability of each individuals in a group (more than one) to understand/feel the feelings of self and others, while experiencing the struggle of his/her own self and others.
Feelings: The emotional underpinnings of an experience being shared by himself or others.
Perception: People imagine about others behaviour and the person himself at the first instance itself, based on what s/he sees and understands.
Attributes: The value judgements attached the perceptions on other people.

Norms for the Process Facilitators:

  • Create an atmosphere congenial for trust, open confrontation and risk taking among participation. 
  • Don’t relate people with positions
  • Don’t be manipulative
  • Treat all participants as equal
  • Understand that all human beings have different pace of learning and provide them opportunities to have their own space.
  • Be objective : No grouping based on Nepotism/ caste /regionalism. However, this does not make the facilitator above the group processes.
  • Be genuine in the expression of feelings
  • Do accept/believe `what is happening’.
  • Don’t attribute values to an action /behaviour of an individual.
  • Trust the participants.  

We have interacted with around 12 people who have undergone the Basic Human Lab, and they do feel very negatively about the whole process. The major concerns they sighted are:
The values cherished by the Institute (ISABS) seems to be different from the individual values of the facilitators. (Our Observation: We find that there is a tendency for people to look at humanistic values and comparing /judging them rather than looking at the functional values in a context).

Some of these labs have been facilitated by in-experienced facilitators. (Our Observation: We find that the participants do look up to the facilitator, and when they find that the facilitator is not being with them in their struggle, they feel that the facilitator(s) are not matured enough to handle the facilitation.  

The lack of conceptual grounding on the lab do hamper the real learning process of an individual. (Our Observation: The argument we heard against this is that the responsibility to learn is on the individual! We, however, feel that ISABS as an Institution has a role to play for furthering the field/ area of expertise, rather than just leaving it to the individual. 
Guide for the Facilitator - A Matrix 

Elements in a Lab What to Observe? Skills/Attitudes Required
Participation  Did all have opportunities to participate? Were some excluded? Was an effort made to draw people out? Did a few dominate? Objective Listening - being able to listen to participants without linking with the facilitators own past experience
Leadership Did a leader emerge? Was a leader designated? Was leadership shared? Was there any structuring of the group? Ability to provide space for others.
Roles Who initiated ideas? Were they supported and by whom? Did anyone block? Who helped push for decisions? Was there any attempt to summarize and pull together various ideas? Let the process take its own shape.
Decision Making Did the group get a lot of ideas suggested before beginning to decide, or did it happen suddenly based on a single idea? Did everyone agree to the decision made? Who helped influence decisions of others? What issues did the group seem to resolve or not resolve? Art of Asking questions to elicit adequate responses from participant.
The mode could be open or searching questions
Communication Did people feel free to talk? Was there any interrupting or cutting people off? Did people really listen to others? Was there clarification of points made? Who did people look at when they talked; single out others, scan the group, or no one? Style of Communication. The tone of the facilitator should not be provocative. Should be simple, and easy to understand.
Sensitivity Were members sensitive to the needs and concerns of each other? What feelings did you see being expressed either verbally or non-verbally? Understanding the feelings. Experience the struggle the participants go through.
Reflective in nature. Able to reflect on his/her own inference/interaction with the participants.

Respect others

Feeling of compassion 

This note is prepared based on own experience in the Process work, as well as a few others who are involved in behavioural process work.


More by :  Baburaj Nair

Top | Individuality

Views: 3728      Comments: 4

Comment thank you babu for sharing your observation based on your interaction with people who have participated in the human process labs.

jimmy dabhi
21-Oct-2014 03:25 AM

Comment what an article.
Must read for all.

a v nair
14-Mar-2013 04:30 AM

Comment could you please send me a mail on my personal email Id to enable us to discuss on this?

Baburaj Nair
25-Mar-2012 03:47 AM

Comment It was an interesting article on human behavioral Lab.

Can this lab be installed in my city Dehradun? I have a good space for it which I can provide for minimum of charge, because I think it is a social cause and it will help the young generation to cope up with many problems like depression and anxiety .

Suresh Vachani
24-Mar-2012 16:18 PM

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