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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Report on SISPP/SPSP Summer School 2019

29.08.2019, by Tina Keil in meeting report

Report by EASP Postgraduate Members Esma Çiftçi, Ruddy Faure, Anja Munder, Melissa Vink & Kevin Winter

From left: Anja Munder, Kevin Winter, Ruddy Faure, Esma Çiftçi, and Melissa Vink in total, 2 pictures
From left: Anja Munder, Kevin Winter, Ruddy Faure, Esma Çiftçi, and Melissa Vink

This year, five EASP postgraduate members (Esma Çiftçi, Ruddy Faure, Anja Munder, Melissa Vink, Kevin Winter) attended the 2019 SPSP Summer Institute in Social and Personality Psychology (SISPP) at New York University. The 2019 SISPP edition offered five two-week courses (i.e., Intergroup Relations, Person-Environment Fit, Political Psychology, Social Psychology In The Wild, and Moral Psychology) and two one-day workshops (i.e., Practical Best Practices For Psychological Science, and Demystifying The Academic Job Market). While Melissa and Ruddy both took part in the Intergroup Relations class, all three other postgraduate EASP members attended a different course. Moreover, all attendees from all courses further participated in five common ignite sessions in which important themes related to academia were discussed (i.e., Editor’s Perspective on Publishing, Promoting Diversity and Inclusion, Social Media Advice for Scientists, Managing Research and Labs, and Professional Ethics).

Kevin (IWM Tübingen) attended the Moral Psychology class which was instructed by Paul Bloom (Yale University) and Azim Shariff (University of British Columbia). The course covered a variety of topics related to morality, such as empathy, religiosity, free will, dehumanization and social inequality. Furthermore, themes that will become even more relevant in the future were discussed, for instance, the moral implications of artificial intelligence. The class consisted of morning sessions that were led by the instructors. Here, the state of the art of the previously mentioned topics was presented. At the same time, Paul and Azim fostered discussions among the students facilitating a constructive reflection of current findings and deepening the students’ understanding. In the first week, the afternoon sessions were reserved for individual presentations in which every student presented his or her own previous work – some more, some less related to Moral Psychology. In the second week, students met up in small groups in order to generate ideas for own research projects related to the class’ topic with the aim of pursuing them after the Summer School. The students presented their projects and ideas for studies at the end of the week and received feedback by the instructors and the other classmates. Besides the regular class, one guest lecture was held by Jay van Bavel on moral contagion in social networks which broadened the students’ perspectives on the field of morality. I want to thank Paul and Azim for sharing their expertise, for their inspiring and amicable way of teaching and for fruitful discussions on highly relevant topics. Thanks to all fellow attendees who made these two weeks a unique scientific and social experience.

Ruddy (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Melissa (Utrecht University) attended the Intergroup Relations course, which was taught by Sapna Cheryan (University of Washington) and Maureen Craig (New York University). This class examined prejudice, identity, stereotypes and discrimination towards various stigmatized groups (i.e., in terms of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) from both minority and majority group member perspectives. For two weeks, we focused on various group dynamics (e.g., stereotype threats, diversity paradoxes, implicit bias, intra-minority interactions, intra-minority relations and coalitions, intergroup ideologies and policies), examined how these group dynamics manifest and how interventions may attempt to reduce negative interactions at different individual and societal levels (i.e., intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, and structural). The class usually started by a quick literature review of the newest research on a specific research topic, followed by debates and discussions (either in small groups or among all students together) regarding the topic and the specific assigned readings. These exchanges have been extremely interactive and enlightening given the broad background that characterized graduate students attending this class. To illustrate, students specialized in interpersonal processes (e.g., close relationships) added the interpersonal perspective as an interesting angle to investigate and understand intergroup processes. The morning session generally ended with a guest lecture from a renowned intergroup relationships researcher. The afternoons were mainly dedicated to the ignite sessions and to working on a research project in subgroups. Specifically, based on their personal interests, groups of three to five students engaged in brainstorming sessions to come up with a new research question that would make a significant scientific contribution to the field of intergroup relations. The groups formulated hypotheses and designed an experiment including all information that are relevant to a preregistration document. At the end of the SISPP, all groups presented their research project to other members of the class, which offered good opportunities to discuss both theoretical and methodological implications. Our joint gratitude goes to Sapna and Maureen for a well-organized two-week class that bridged both high expertise and inspiring discussions as well as for such a line up of guest speakers. We really appreciated the evaluative and constructive attitude of both teachers; they regularly checked up on us whether they could improve aspects of the course to our needs, which was very thoughtful. We are also thankful to all other graduate students of the Intergroup Relations course for their stimulating discussions and kindness.

Anja (FernUniversität in Hagen) attended the course on Political Psychology, the instructors were Eric Knowles and Chris Dawes (both: New York University). Assigned readings and classroom discussions in this course dealt with the effects of individual differences and contextual factors on people’s political opinions and electoral behaviour in the US. Over the two weeks, topics like social identity, partisanship, political polarization, intergroup politics, effects of (social) media exposure, and ideology were discussed in an open and creative exchange between the participants and instructors. Additionally, guest speakers and one instructor gave talks about their current research: Pat Egan (New York University) talked about LGB political identity, Daniel Yudkin (UPenn Social and Behavioral Science Initiative) discussed the political “Hidden Tribes” of the US population, Eric Knowles presented research on predictors of the support for Trump, Maureen Craig (New York University) gave a talk on the effects of perceived status threat, and Andy Guess (Princeton University Politics and Public Affairs) discussed political “echo chambers”. Hannah Nam (Stony Brook University Political Science) added a new perspective with her research on neurological correlates of system justification believes. This course also provided the opportunity for developing research proposals in small groups: In several designated time slots, three attendees of the course respectively worked on their projects that investigated timely research questions in Political Psychology. On the final day of the course - after a bagel breakfast, generously sponsored by the instructors - all groups presented their ideas. Other attendees were assigned as discussants and gave feedback on the respective theoretical reasoning and methodological approach. Many thanks to EASP for giving me the opportunity to attend the Summer Institute, Eric and Chris for sharing of expertise and their dedication, the fellow course mates for sharing their multifaceted perspectives as well as all other organizers and attendees for their contribution to this unique and inspirational experience!

Esma (University of Exeter) attended ‘Social Psychology in the wild: behavioural science to advance psychological theory and public policy’. This course was led by Crystal Hall (University of Washington) and Leaf Van Boven (University of Colorado Boulder). The main aim of the course was to understand how behavioural science could help policy makers to improve existing policies or generate new evidence-based policies. During the course, we learnt how we transform our theoretical knowledge on social psychology to something more practical: policy suggestions. Thanks to our two special instructors, we mainly focused on two important topics: environmental issues such as sustainability and issues around inequality such as poverty. Reviewing existing literature on these topics and suggesting behavioural change interventions to an existing policy in light of the literature were the primary objectives of this course. Each day started with a general debate in class about literature regarding interventions to change behaviours and continued with small group activities, for instance, proposing a novel research questions about the topic we discussed during the day. In addition, having 4 guest speakers from different backgrounds was the highlight of the course. First, Josh Wright, executive director of “ideas 42”, talked about their work on reducing the numbers of students who are leaving college after the freshman year. He also asked us to come up with research ideas to nudge people to vote in general elections. Then, Amanda Carrico, assistant professor from psychology department in University of Colorado Boulder, gave a presentation about their work on the effects of environmental changes on smallholding farmers in Sri-Lanka. Guest speakers’ series continued with a presentation given by Rainer Romero Canyas who spoke about the impact of social psychology experiments on policy change process as well as answering questions about how we could find a job outside of academia, but inside of policy making process, after PhD. Finally, Emily Schmitt, deputy director of the office of planning, research, and evaluation, US Department of Health and Human Service, shared her experiences about working for policy making process and different research teams. All in all, it was great to have Crystal and Leaf as instructors and meet our guest speakers and, even more excitingly, meeting other PhD students for possible future collaborations and lifelong friendships. I am thankful for this opportunity to EASP and very happy to be a member of SISPP 2019.

All five European attendees took part in the workshop on Best Practices in Research Methods led by Alison Ledgerwood (UC Davis). The course introduced several current topics related to the ongoing debates of replicability and open science in personality and social psychology research. This included preregistration, exploratory versus confirmatory research, a priori power analysis, ways to maximize statistical power, pre-analysis plan, sequential analysis, various forms of replications, transparency, and internal meta-analysis. Alison taught the course in an encouraging and hands-on way, by notably providing useful documentation (e.g., Shiny R Web Apps) and by having us practising sequential analyses. Alison did a great job in engaging students who were already more advanced within this field, while she, at the same time, explained the basics very well so that students who are new to this field could easily follow the workshop. More broadly, we viewed this course as a crucial component of our education in order to conduct high quality research. In fact, ways to circumvent questionable research practices and to maximize the explanatory power of studies were presented and discussed in an open-minded and constructive atmosphere.

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