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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Report on EASP Summer School 2020

15.10.2020, by Tina Keil in meeting report

Online, Aug. 24th, 2020 - Sept. 4th, 2020; Organised by University of Surrey, UK

EASP Summer School 2020 - Online in total, 4 pictures
EASP Summer School 2020 - Online

Late in 2018, a team of eleven academics at the University of Surrey, centred around the Social Emotions and Equality in Relations group, applied to host the 2020 EASP Summer School. This initial team included Smadar Cohen-Chen, Fabio Fasoli, Magdalena Formanowicz, Peter Hegarty, Erica Hepper, Peter Hilpert, Chris Jones, Patrice Rusconi, Sophie Russell, Harriet Tenenbaum, and Kayleigh Wyles. I (Peter Hegarty) was the most senior member of the group, and I had organized Summer Schools for early career researchers before. So I agreed to act as the overall Summer School director. Our proposal was for five workstreams, with very similar themes to those that we ultimately ran at the 2020 EASP Summer School. These workstreams were Social Cognition, Social and Group Emotions, Close Relationships and Dyads, Social Psychology and Language, and The Social Psychology of Contemporary Environmental Issues. The fifth workstream represented the history of Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey and its Environmental Psychology Research Group.

We were delighted when our bid was successful! We were even more delighted when Amy Canevello, Veronica Lamanche, Andrea Carnaghi, Aarti Iyer, Marco Brambilla, and Sabine Pahl accepted our invitation to join us as external tutors. Jean-Claude Cloziet was assigned as our EASP contact and showed legendary patience in responding to our questions in the following months. Our Dean in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at Surrey at that time, Prof Helen Griffiths had backed our bid with some match funding for bursaries. This allowed us to connect SEER’s commitment to equality and inclusion with EASP’s initiatives around diversity. Steve Reicher and Anna Kende, two co-authors of the Prelimenary Report on Diversity in the EASP fielded our queries on how to implement that report to maximize the inclusion of students from all European regions. It was great to start this project with so much support from so many different angles.

We were further delighted by the volume and quality of the applications received from students across Europe late in 2019. Both of our partner organizations, SPSP in North America and SASP and Australasia, selected five students from their regions. We selected thirteen European students for each of the five workstreams in early 2020 and announced the outcomes of the process to all who applied. By February 2020, we had booked classrooms and accommodation for 75 students at Surrey. We had invited colleagues to give keynote addresses, and we were beginning to talk very concretely about how to use our new social interaction lab and how the students might make the most of their social time in the UK.

It seemed like very little could really go too far wrong from here. But social psychology happens (or doesn’t) in historical contexts that are bigger than us. As the COVID-19 epidemic began to centre over Europe in Spring 2020, the future of the Summer School became very uncertain. Some of us realized that a face-to-face Summer School wasn’t going to happen quicker than others did. The risks of going ahead with the Summer School were not only health related; there was also ambiguous policy about what kinds of international travel would be permitted. With deep regret, the organizing committee and the EASP executive took a joint decision to cancel the Summer School. In the weeks after that, we all got on with playing our respective parts in the overwhelming job of delivering the rest of the year’s university teaching. That was not a good day, and in the days that followed we all began to let the reality of the cancellation seep into our understanding of “the new normal” of life with COVID-19. That was that.

Or so it seemed. Really brilliant leaders have insights that outsmart difficult situations and social norms, and when they can take everyone with them, they can materially change the game. In the context of the the cancellation of the Krakow conference, members of the EASP Executive Committee envisaged how the Summer School could ultimately happen. It could be run on line. It could involve fewer days of workstream contact. The grant money usually applied to support accommodation, meals, and travel would not be needed. The Summer School fee reduced and the EASP grant could be repurposed. Each of the five workstreams of the new online Summer School would be given a research budget of 4,000 Euro to seed fund the projects that they would develop at the 2020 Summer School.

Because of COVID, the students could not experience long Summer evenings in Guildford strolling by the river Wey. But they could walk away with a material boost to the international research networks that they would form this Summer. It the Summer School tradition was going to continue in spite of COVID-19, it was going to be a more than usually task focused affair. It is testament to Kai Sassenberg’s leadership and powers of persuasion that he talked me into this in the second half of April!

Two groups of people were going to have to buy into this plan if it was going to work. The first group were the tutors. Were they still free? Could they deliver an online event? Erica Hepper, Aarti Iyer, Harriet Tennenbaum and Andrea Carnaghi were no longer available for various good reasons, but the other eleven tutors were up for coming back. Just before lockdown Aife Hopkins-Doyle had joined the SEER research group early in 2020 and she joined the planning team. We convened on zoom and agreed to organize the Summer School over the original time frame; August 24th-September 4th. We agreed to have three intensive workstream days on zoom that stretched over this period. We needed to organize other events – that did not draw on the workstream tutors’ leadership on the intervening days. Could we organize a timetable? Peter Hilpert could still contribute a workshop on statistics. Aife suggested a workshop on early career development. We contacted three scholars who gracious accepted our second invitation to offer keynotes at the Summer School; Karen Niven, Grev Corbett and Birgitta Gatersleben. I think it was Fabio Fasoli who “volunteered” me into giving a keynote address also. (In return, I “volunteered” Fabio to organize a zoom pub quiz). In sum, we now had a strong timetable with a balance of events and time for developing research ideas. This was starting to look like fun again, and the workstream tutors began to plan their reading lists with enthusiasm.

But we still had to contact the most important people about this plan; the seventy-five students who had been accepted on the original Summer School. Were they still free? Could they return even after we had cancelled the event? We contacted the students in early June. Of course, not all students could come back. Some students – very understandably – declined the offer to come back as they preferred to hold out for a possible place at a face-to-face Summer school in the future. Some had since made other plans. For SPSP and SASP students, the Summer School was now a less-good option; no matter how we timed it, participation was going to take place very early in the morning for North American participants and into the night for Australasians. But as messages of enthusiasm began to accumulate in my inbox from across European and around the world, I realized that Kai’s idea had been truly brilliant. Within a few days, it was apparent that we were easily going to have the “critical mass” of participants to make the Summer School worthwhile.

In the end sixty-four students participated in the Summer School. Instead of planning welcome receptions and social events, we arranged for all of the visiting students and tutors with temporary access the online learning platform SurreyLearn where we would host the Summer School. Although this happened a bit too close to the wire for my comfort, everyone was enrolled just about in time.

There is a difference between enrolling a quantity of people to take part in an activity and the quality of their participation. As I turned on Zoom, fifteen minutes before the Welcome event at 12 noon on August 24th, I had that nervous anticipation. How enthusiastic would these students be? By 12.01, all the students were online and clearly they were all ready to go. Professor Chris Fife-Schaw, the Head of School of Psychology at Surrey, welcomed them by describing the School’s deep involvement in European social psychology over past decades. Then they dispursed into their workstream groups and got to work!

This tone continued. Every day the students showed up – time and again – on-time and fully engaged for the pub quiz, the keynotes, Peter’s statistics workshops, Aife and Jim Everett’s early career workshop, and the five workstreams. On the final day of the Summer School students all presented their work. To do justice to the very real funding that was now committed to these research projects, each research presentation received written feedback from three workstream tutors (who had not delivered those students’ workstream).

In the end I did give a keynote on the history of social psychology. As the history guy, I feel obliged to remind everyone of the dangers of the hindsight bias in thinking about the history of our field. The 2020 Summer School went well, and in retrospect it feels as if it was always going to happen. But nothing was predetermined; there really very nearly was no Summer School at all in 2020! Too many of us might have been personally affected by COVID to make it happen (we were lucky). 2020 may be best remembered poignantly as the year when the Summer School created no memories of cooking and sharing food from different cultures, no group photo in a beautiful venue, and no tearful goodbye hugs as we promised to meet again. In the end, the Summer School came back – in Conchita Wurst style – like a phoenix from the flames. But we should not be biased to thinking that the outcome of this collective action was inevitable. We – students, tutors, workstream leaders, IT and digital learning colleagues, the EASP committee all did this precarious thing together. And we need to remember that different kinds of people can achieve things, that are not inevitable, by working together in precarious times now more than ever.

Short descriptions of the seed-funded research projects emerging from the five workstreams of the Summer School are below. In all cases student collaborators are listed alphabetically by last name.

Workstream 1: Social Cognition

Tutors: Marco Brambilla and Patrice Rusconi

Title I Choose to Believe You: How Group Membership Influences Impression Updating
Collaborators Xenia Daniela Poslon, Kasia Myślińska Szarek, & Anna Kristina Zinn

Proposal Summary

Previous research has shown that we can update both implicit and explicit impressions and that this process is influenced by the believability of new information. However, most of the studies on impression updating have considered person perception, overlooking group perception. Here, we test the role of social identity salience in influencing the believability of new information and driving the updating process of explicit impressions. In Study 1, we will assess how believability and valence of new information as well as the social identity of the person providing the new information (liberal vs. conservative) interact and influence impression updating. We expect an interaction between believability and source of information with the extent to which believability changes  impression updates differing when the information is presented by an in-group as compared to an out-group member. In Study 2, we will further explore the interaction between valence and the social identity of both the source of information and the person we form an impression about. The project extends prior research evidence by investigating the interplay of cognitive and motivational processes in shaping group impression updating.

Title I Trust You (Not): The Intersection of Race, Gender and Socio-Economic Status in Facial Trustworthiness in Online Contexts
Collaborators Miriam-Linnea Hale, Erdem O. Meral, & Alessia Valmori.

Proposal Summary

People make millisecond trustworthiness judgments from faces that are consequential (e.g., in political elections and criminal sentencing decisions to name a few). The vast majority of studies investigating facial trustworthiness rely on Caucasian male faces and stay silent about the generalization of observed effects to other ethnicities/races and gender. The ones who investigate the effects of race, do so with male faces. To fill this gap in the literature in the current study we will investigate the intersectional effects of race and gender on facial trustworthiness in online settings (e.g., social media profiles). We opted for online settings to increase the generalizability of our findings to where people are likely to make these millisecond judgements every day. We aim to conduct two studies and first investigate the intersection of race and gender (Study 1) and then extend this by considering another meaningful factor: SES (Study 2). Based on an intersectional approach we would expect to find interactions between these categories in facial trustworthiness judgments.

Title Looking for Competence in the face of Inequality: Effect of Inequality Context on Interpersonal Evaluations of Morality and Competence
Collaborators Eva Moreno-Bella Josh Rhee, & Daniel Toribio-Flórez

Proposal Summary

Socioeconomic inequality (SI) has been found to lead to a number of negative outcomes for members of a given society. In the present research, we investigate whether SI affects processes of impression formation. Specifically, across two studies, we will evaluate the relative merit of two competing accounts of impression formation: (1) a context account – predicting that SI would lead to greater weight being placed on competence (vs. morality) information in forming global impressions of others; and (2) a morality primacy account – predicting that greater weight will be placed on morality (vs. competence) information regardless of context. Study 1 will employ a correlational design, which will examine the relationship between people´s perceptions of current SI and the weight given to competence- (vs. morality)- related information (with either positive/negative valence) in an impression formation task. In Study 2, we will experimentally manipulate SI by introducing an organizational context characterized by inequality (vs. equality). In both studies, we will also pre-measure individual differences in attitudes toward SI, which we anticipate will moderate any effect of perceived or manipulated SI on the global impression formation. As a potential mechanism of our hypothesized effect, we will explore whether prescriptive beliefs in meritocracy mediate the relationship between SI and the evaluation of competence (vs. morality). Overall, this project aims at contributing to both the literature on the socio-psychological consequences of inequality and the advancement of impression formation research.

Title How Categorical Information Influences the Impression Updating Process
Collaborators Shilei Chen, Alex Goedderz, Marine Granjon, Jana Mangels, & Maria Stogianni

Proposal Summary

When perceiving others and forming a first impression of them, one important source of information comes from categorical cues such as stereotypes. Even though the importance of categorical information is well-documented from research on impression formation, its relevance in the impression updating process is yet to be understood. In three experimental studies, we first examine whether and to what extent (a) individuating information (ambiguous aggressive behaviour) and (b) stereotype congruent vs. incongruent social category membership (black vs. white faces) influence participants’ implicit and explicit impressions of a target person at two points in time. In two subsequent studies, we investigate potential mediators of the observed updating effects, such as reinterpretation of the initial information, or perceived diagnosticity or believability of the second information. We discuss this research’s relevance for stereotypes about ‘invisible’, potentially later-revealed social categories (e.g., sexual orientation) and for anonymous job applications.

Workstream 2: Social and Group Emotions

Tutors: Smadar Cohen-Chen and Sophie Russell

Title A Tale of Two Emotions: How Gratitude and Pride Shape Helping towards Immigrants
Collaborators Ana Leal, Joanna Lindström, Kunalan Manokara, & Jasmine Norman

Proposal Summary

In the present research, we examine whether eliciting specific positive emotions amongst majority group members in a country, would lead to greater helping towards immigrants. We contrast two positive emotions that could have divergent effects on our intended outcome: gratitude (an other-focused, communally-oriented, affiliation signalling emotion), and pride (a self-focused, agency-oriented, dominance signalling emotion). In two studies, we evaluate whether inducing group-based emotions (Experiment 1) and incidental feelings (Experiment 2) could have causal consequences for helping immigrants. We postulate that feeling thankful from gratitude should lead to greater aid for immigrants, as compared to feeling accomplished from pride. The present research holds applied benefits for interventions that look to facilitate out-group helping, while contributing to emergent theorising about how not all emotions that make people feel good lead to actually doing good. 

Title Humility Fosters Willingness to Make Intergroup Apologies via Increased Intergroup Perspective Taking and Group-based Guilt
Collaborators Karolina Dyduch-Hazar, Irem Eker, Meghann Matthews, & Elizabeth Summerell

Proposal Summary

This project aims to examine whether: (1) Trait humility is positively associated with: perspective-taking, guilt proneness and disposition to apologize whereas pride disposition is not significantly associated with: perspective-taking, guilt proneness and disposition to apologize; (2) State humility (vs. pride) predicts greater willingness to make an apology for the past transgressions on behalf of the group via increased intergroup perspective-taking and group-based guilt. Three studies (one correlational and two experimental) will be conducted in Poland, United Kingdom and United States to test these hypotheses.

Title The Role of Emotional Expressions in Reactions to Marginalised Populations
Collaborators Emerson A. Do Bú, Marco Marinucci, Nora Storz, Francesca Trevisan, & Kirsten E. Westmoreland.

Proposal Summary

Across two studies (and one pilot) this project aims to investigate the role that emotion expression plays in the emotional responses and pro-social behaviour by perceivers. Using homeless populations as a target group, a novel set of vignette stimuli will be evaluated and subsequently utilised to gauge how various emotionally expressive homeless targets are differentially perceived by European participants. This project affords researchers the opportunity to explore the emotional basis of prosocial behaviour and provides a pivotal opportunity for further investigation into attitudes towards a growing marginalised population.

Workstream 3:Close Relationships and Dyads

Tutors: Amy Canevello and Veronica Lamarche

Title A safe haven: Can imagined touch promote well-being and prosocial behavior under stress?
Collaborators Laura Hazlett, Eric Manalastas, Chiara Pecini, & Giulia Zoppolat

Proposal Summary

Affectionate touch within close relationships is essential for individual and relational well-being. Yet little is known about how touch from a romantic partner affects processes outside the relationship. Our project focuses on two main questions: 1) Through what mechanisms does imagined affectionate touch from a partner promote well-being in response to stressors outside a relationship? 2) Given links between feeling safe and cared for and pro-social behaviour, can imagined affectionate touch from a partner motivate pro-social behaviour towards others?

Title The Association between Responsiveness to Sexual Needs and Sexual/Relationship Satisfaction
Collaborators Jasmina Mehulic, Siobhan O’ Dean, Carla Roos, Mariola Dolores Sánchez-Hernández, & Laura Vowels

Proposal Summary

It is possible for people to meet some of their emotional and social needs outside of the relationship (Rubin et al., 2014) but the majority of partners rely exclusively on one another for the fulfilment of their sexual needs (Impett et al., 2020). Therefore, partners’ perceived responsiveness to each other’s sexual needs in relationships is particularly important for both sexual and relationship satisfaction (Impett et al., 2020). However, it is not clear from the extant literature whether perceptions of a partner’s responsiveness to self’s needs or self’s responsiveness to a partner’s needs is more important for the self’s satisfaction and which factors may contribute to perceived responsiveness. To test this, we will conduct three studies: the first study will qualitatively examine what participants’ perceive as responsive and whether they perceive their own or their partner’s responsiveness as more important. The other two studies (a student sample across five countries and a representative UK sample) will quantitatively examine what the most important individual, relational, and cultural factors are that are associated with perceived responsiveness to sexual needs using machine learning.

Title Everyone alright at home? The impact of the perceived fairness of changes in housework distribution due to the COVID-19 pandemic on heterosexual couples’ relationship and wellbeing
Collaborators Olivier Dujols, Viivi Mäkinen, Carolina Rocha, & Lubomira Tsvetkova.

Proposal Summary

COVID-19 pandemic has affected the relationship dynamic of many cohabiting couples, for example, by disrupting the division of housework, leading women often assuming the greatest share of the chores. (Collins et al., 2020; Costoya et al., 2020). In this study, we investigate whether the increase in housework share due to the pandemic, when perceived unfair, attenuates individuals’ well-being by lowering the satisfaction in their relationships. In addition, we test the possible moderating effect of gender ideologies on the perceived fairness of the change in housework share. With our study, we aim to contribute to the understanding of the impact of gender ideologies behind the relational and individual consequences of housework division during the pandemic.

Workstream 4: Social Psychology and Language

Tutors: Fabio Fasoli and Magdalena Formanowicz

Title Not gay as in happy but queer as in...: The use and perception of reclaimed group labels for lesbian women and gay men
Collaborators Catho Jacobs, Maike Braun, Giulia Buschicchio, & Amanda Klysing

Proposal Summary

The project wants to examine real-life experiences of the use of descriptive, derogatory, and reclaimed labels for the groups lesbian women and gay men. We will do this through a mixed-methods approach supplying answers to the following three questions: 1) How does the context in which a label is used influence use and evaluation of derogatory group labels. 2) What are the mechanisms for empowerment through reclamation of derogatory group labels? 3) How does perception of reclamation differ between members of the stigmatized groups in question and members of out-groups?

Title Can Science Communication be too Scientific? The Influence of Text Complexity on Trust and Compliance Following Health-Related Messages
Collaborators Alexandra Lux, Pit Klein, Julia Schnepf, & Zixi Jin

Proposal Summary

Laypeople often experience difficulties in understanding and interpreting scientific messages, which also reduces their trust in and compliance with these messages. We will conduct two studies that investigate the association between language complexity in health-related scientific publications and their dissemination (Study 1) and the effect of complex versus straightforward health messages on participants' need threat, trust in messages, and compliance with messages (Study 2). With this project, we aim to identify important processes in the communication of scientific findings to the general population that will help us to make scientific health communication more inclusive - and thus more effective.

Title “Neurodivergent womxn unite!”: The dissemination of novel inclusive language forms online
Collaborators Alicia Cork, Melanie McGrath, & Hellen Vergoossen

Proposal Summary

More than 430 million people use online platforms like Reddit and Twitter each month, and evidence suggest this exposure informs their opinions on social issues (Pew Research Center, 2018). The language used on these online platforms provides researchers with a unique opportunity to explore how social realities are constructed in real time and with diminished risk of experimenter bias or demand characteristics. The proposed research program will provide a behavioural analysis of how innovative inclusive language forms diffuse and become normalised in online settings. Specifically, topic modelling and sentiment analysis will be used to determine how the affective and semantic context in which novel inclusive language forms are embedded influence their range and rate of spread. The preliminary set of language forms to be analysed reflect a number of historically excluded identities and include POC (person of colour), Latinx, intersex, womxn, sex worker, neurodivergent, and LGBTI+.

Title "I guess I’m sorry”: Perceptions of Apologizing for Racial Slurs in Intra vs Intergroup Conversations"
Collaborators Jessica Bray, Corine Stella Kana Kenfack, & Pascaline Van Oost

Proposal Summary

Research suggests that the perceived offensiveness of racial slurs increases when majority out-group members (i.e. White individuals) use them to address minority group members (i.e. Black individuals). The current proposal is multi-faceted. First, we aim to investigate whether minority members perceive racial slurs as less offensive when they are delivered by in-group members. Second, we aim to investigate whether apologizing strategies influence the perceptions of the speaker who uses racial slurs from a minority member’s perspective.

Workstream 5: The Social Psychology of Contemporary Environmental Issues

Tutors: Chris Jones, Sabine Pahl, and Kayleigh Wyles

Title Not in My Back Yard
Collaborators Islam Borinca, Wybren Nooitgedagt, & Juana Chinchilla

Proposal Summary

This project aims to investigate the relationship between collective place attachment, place identity, and psychological ownership and collective oppositional actions. We will be focused on finalizing the questionnaire material and then run the pilot study in Spain. Next, analyse the results and decide on any additional measures before we conduct our studies in Kosovo, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Title The Great Wave of Environmentalism: Moralizing the ocean through art contemplation
Collaborators Marcos Dono, Maya Godbole, & Claas Pollmanns

Proposal Summary

In the proposed studies, we examine how perceptions of moral patiency — the idea that an entity (living or non-living) is a vulnerable patient and deserving of moral concern—of the ocean can foster individual willingness to engage in pro-environmental behaviours. The pre-test will examine which visual images and descriptions work best (and worst) in evoking perceptions of Ocean as a moral patient (e.g., of possessing traits of mind, beauty, and uniqueness). The main experimental design will test whether viewing morally-relevant visual images, descriptions, or both, can influence people into perceiving the Ocean as a moral patient, and as a result, engaging people in pro-environmental behaviours.

Title Acceptability and Support for a Fair Meat Price
Collaborators Marguerite Beattie, Daria Paniotova-Mączka, & Hannibal Thai

Proposal summary

An agriculture emission tax, will raise the cost of various types of high-emission products, especially those that have the highest emissions (i.e., beef). This would impact the public’s dietary habits, especially when the tax’s revenue is used to lower the price of fruits and vegetables. Given the many problems associated with excessive meat production and consumption (e.g., antibiotic resistance, increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, animal welfare issues, environmental degradation) and the upward trend of global meat consumption (Luciano, 2009; Raphaely & Marinova, 2015), an emission tax on agriculture products would address multiple global problems on top of reducing emissions. Variables like norms (i.e., perceptions of what others do, what others think should be done, and perceptions of normative trends), political orientation, and place attachment have been linked to individuals’ attitudes towards and support for pro-environmental behaviours. Our project seeks to determine the relative importance of each of the factors with regards to an agriculture emission tax. Given the worsening impacts of climate change, the implementation of an emission tax in many aspects of our society is a question of when, not if.  Our research seeks to accelerate the process and identify the factors that predict acceptability and support for an emission tax on meat.

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