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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Travel Grant Report by Daniel Toribio-Flórez

26.05.2020, by Tina Keil in grant report

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Germany; Research visit to the Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab, Brown University and 2020 SPSP Convention, USA

Hello! I am Daniel, a third-year PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany. My research interests broadly lie in the field of social and moral judgment and its impact on behavior. In particular, my work focuses on how social and moral judgment occur under conditions of limited (i.e., uncertainty) or conflicting (i.e., ambivalent) situational information, and how they translate into behavior under such circumstances.

As part of my PhD, I always considered the possibility of visiting other research groups to learn from different perspectives and improve my research skills. Thanks to one of the EASP Travel Grants, I had the opportunity to do so at the beginning of this year! I visited the Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab at Brown University, led by Prof. Oriel Feldmanhall. I am extremely grateful that Oriel, a leading scholar in social decision-making and neuropsychology, offered me the opportunity to visit her and her group. In their research, Oriel’s lab tackle the neuropsychological underpinnings of social-decision making, with a particular emphasis on decision-making under (social) uncertainty and ambiguity. The alignment between their research and my current work conformed the perfect environment to learn, exchange ideas, and collaborate. During my stay, I was delighted to get involved into an ongoing research project that some of Oriel’s group members where conceptually putting together. The project aimed to address the impact of different sources of uncertainty on the coordination in the exploitation of common resources. Beyond its theoretical implications, the goal was to offer policy-relevant insight regarding the sustainable use of common goods in an intergenerational framework.

Moreover, the EASP Travel Grant allowed me to partly cover the travel expenses of my attendance to the 2020 SPSP Convention, which took place during my stay in the US. This year, the conference was organized in New Orleans (LA), right after the celebration of “Mardi Gras”, the local, yet globally famous, celebration of carnival. Before the conference, I shortly travelled along the Mississippi river with a close friend, and discover more the history, the diversity, the geography and the gastronomy of the “deep” southern states of Louisiana and Mississippi. Once in New Orleans, SPSP opened in the middle of the vibrant intensity of the city and its music. The conference was incredibly stimulating, with really interesting sessions, such as the symposium organized by Bertram Garownski on the sociopsychological underpinnings of misinformation and the spread of fake news. I had the opportunity to give a blitz-talk during the SIPS pre-conference about the stance of early-career researchers on Open Science. I also presented a poster of my work on third-party punishment against ambiguous norm violations. During the poster session, I received quite useful feedback and engaged into really enriching conversations with other researchers who shared similar interests.

Only a month and a half after my arrival to the US, the current crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic irrupted and stopped the world as we know it. Europe was already suffering the effects of COVID-19, and the US started to identify its first cases. In a matter of days, Brown University decided to restrict on-campus access and eventually closed, while the EU had already started discussing the closing of international borders. Therefore, as many other people (with, perhaps, more vitally important circumstances), I found myself forced to return to Germany before the end of my research stay.

Despite this unexpected end, I feel really thankful for having this opportunity. Although I could not accomplish all the goals I originally had, it has definitely been a really fruitful and enriching experience!