BLISS 2014 Project Descriptions
Email Jennifer Shephard ( with questions.

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Conceptual Development in Children
Susan Carey (psychology, cognitive development)

Carey website (FAS Psychology)

I work on conceptual development: causal reasoning, logic, executive function. All of the work concerns understanding the human conceptual repertoire, which is unique on this earth. I run a summer internship program for students from around the country (and increasingly, from around the world), and the BLISS Fellow(s) will be part of this program. Summer interns are paired with a graduate student, postdoc, or RA on a project ready for real progress over a 10-week period.

BLISS Fellow(s) will have the first chance at choosing which of 10 to 12 projects on offer during summer 2014 they want to work on. Some example topics include:

BLISS Fellow(s) will gain an in-depth experience in designing, conducting, and/or analyzing a study. They will:

The goal of this summer program is to introduce students to how scientific knowledge is actually produced. Its main goal is to help students decide whether they might pursue science as a career. Many do, many do not. At this age it is important to learn what one does not want to do with one’s life as well as what one does want to do with it. At exit interviews the lab gets only raves about the program, and all students agree that the experience will enrich how they read and evaluate scientific literature (both in courses and in the media). The internship has been honed over a 15+ year period, and the lab now gets applications from all over the world. Four BLISS students worked in the lab over the past two summers, and all gave the program a thumbs-up review.

Skills needed
Although many of the interns have a cognitive science background (psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer science), this is not necessary. One of our most cherished BLISS Fellows had a history of science background. I and the mentor assigned to each student can teach them skills they need for their projects, and guide their reading of the relevant background literature.

Neuroscience of Social Cognition
Jason P. Mitchell (social cognitive neuroscience)

Mitchell website (FAS Psychology)

The Mitchell lab employs functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and behavioral methods to study social cognition. In particular we study how people infer the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others (i.e., how we mentalize), how people understand the self, and how people understand social groups and categories. Other topics of interest include the causes and neural mechanisms of prosocial behavior and determining how social value is computed and used to make decisions.

Students will complete a project that falls under the umbrella topic of social cognitive neuroscience.  We have several ongoing lines of research and will do the best we can to match students with research based on project needs and student interest. Several of these studies include:

Social Influence: As social creatures, humans are continually exposed to the thoughts, wills, experiences, and opinions of their peers. The social information provided by others has the innate ability to affect the way individuals think, act, judge and feel. In this current study we are investigating if social influence can similarly impact preconscious processes.

Model of mentalizing: Mentalizing refers to the human ability to infer the internal mental states of others. A great deal of research in this lab and beyond has been aimed at better understanding the process of mentalizing. One interesting result of this work is that people tend to use themselves as a model for understanding the mental states of others, but only when those others are similar to them. Based on this result and others like it, we have developed a computational model of mentalizing which accounts for many existing findings. In order to test this model, we are examining a number of hypotheses it makes with respect to the effects of familiarity on how we think about others.

Future Goal Planning: During the course of one’s lifetime many personal goals will go unattained. Puzzlingly enough, failure to reach a goal is not always due to factors outside of one’s control. Indeed, setting oneself up for failure is quite common- enjoying a slice of birthday cake while on a diet and staying out late with friends the night before an important exam are instances of such self-sabotage. This study aims to improve future goal planning by focusing on the relationship of the current self to the future self.

Neural representations of familiar individuals: When considering familiar others, people tend to think in terms of specifics – such as how their friend might feel in a particular situation – instead of in terms of broad traits. The goal of this project is to develop a behavioral task that captures this difference in thinking about familiar versus unfamiliar others, and then to use the task in conjunction with fMRI to examine how familiar others are represented in the brain.

Grouping faces: As people go about their daily lives, they often encounter groups of similar-looking visual objects, such as baskets of fruit, trees covered in leaves, and flocks of birds. The visual system has been found to represent such groups of objects in terms of summary statistics such as mean size or orientation, as this is more efficient than representing the individual features of the objects. This type of ensemble coding has been found to occur for simple visual objects like lines and circles, but also for more complex objects like faces. We are interested in whether verbal knowledge about faces can influence the process of creating summary statistics, and, relatedly, in whether summary statistics for groups of faces influence social judgments about individual faces.

Students are likely to engage in a variety of efforts regardless of which projects they are involved with. In early phases of research, students will likely assist in the generation of stimuli such as faces (real and computer-generated) and creating online surveys or, skills allowing, writing programs for in-lab experiments. During the data-collection phase of a study, students will likely run behavioral participants, assist in running fMRI participants, and/or serve as a confederate (fake subject). In the final stages of a project, students will learn about the analysis of fMRI and behavioral data. At all stages of research, students will learn about substantive psychological topics under investigation and how we design experiments to address these issues.

Skills needed
The main prerequisite is for students to have an interest in psychology and neuroscience. Priority will be given to students who have completed Science of Living Systems 20 or Psychology 1. Experience with computer programming is a plus, but is not required.

Using Behavioral Science to Improve Educational Outcomes
Todd Rogers (psychology, education, behavioral science, behavioral economics)

Rogers website (HKS Center for Public Leadership)

My research uses behavioral science (psychology, behavioral economics) to develop ways to improve educational outcomes for students. My goal is to develop educational interventions that are effective, low cost, scalable, easily tested with randomized experiments, and psychologically interesting.  For example, some of my work uses psychological levers ("nudges") to improve the persistence of college students, graduation rates of summer school students, homework completion among college and high school students, parental involvement in elementary school students’ educational lives, and general “noncognitive” skills among high school students. I work in collaboration with both psychologists and behavioral economists at Harvard Business School, Notre Dame, UC Berkeley, Penn, Wharton, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford.

In the past, I have used this same “nudge” approach to increase voter turnout.  Over 8 years, collaborators and I developed a half dozen or so interventions that, when combined, double or triple the impact per dollar spent on voter mobilization efforts (to read about how these were used in the 2010 and 2012 elections see here and here and here).  As an example, we have learned that simply asking voters to make a voting plan specifying when they will vote, where they will be coming from, and how they will get to the polls more than doubles the effectiveness of standard get-out-the-vote contacts (Nickerson and Rogers, 2010).  Other research suggests that people can be motivated to vote by emphasizing high expected turnout rather than low expected turnout (Gerber and Rogers, 2009).  I have also conducted research that investigates the power of leveraging the threat of personal accountability. For example, sending citizens a message stating “we may call you after the election to ask about your voting experience” causes a significant increase in voter turnout (Rogers and Ternovski, 2012).  Another method of encouraging voting is emphasizing the identity that “you are a voter” rather than the idea that “you can vote” (Bryan, Walton, Rogers, and Dweck, 2011).

The BLISS fellow will work on randomized field experiments that test educational interventions. These interventions will be based on behavioral science insights, and will be designed to "nudge" students toward better educational outcomes. We may be conducting some of these during the summer either at online colleges, community colleges, or summer schools. The BLISS undergraduate fellow will likely support and be involved in several projects and may continue to work on these after the summer, if interested. In addition, highly motivated students may have the opportunity to develop these projects into a senior thesis.

There are several possible research projects that the BLISS undergraduate student may help with. Two are described below.

Increasing Homework Completion. Research in cognitive and social psychology has found that simply thinking through the how, when, and where of an intention helps people follow through on the intended behavior. In a recent paper, we found that asking people how, when, and where they will go to their voting place more than doubled the impact of voter mobilization contacts (Nickerson and Rogers, 2010). This has now become standard practice in voter mobilization efforts, but little is known about how plan-making can be applied to educational settings. This project will examine three questions: (1) How effective can daily plan-making be at increasing homework completion? (2) Can people become better "planners" by reviewing their previous day's plans before making that day's plan? (3) How large of an effect does increased homework have on actual learning outcomes? These questions will be answered by conducting randomized experiments at local summer schools.

Using Descriptive Social Norm Information to increase attendance. Recent work we have conducted suggests that parents of highly truant students are very miscalibrated with regards to whether their children's truancy is unusual: they think their students' truancy is normal when it is not. We will be conducting experiments examining whether providing descriptive social norm information included in report cards – like – can increase student attendance (i.e., "19 of 21 students in Todd's class have better attendance records. He misses more school than his classmates"). This will be launched in fall 2014, but logistical preparations will be made during summer 2014.

The BLISS undergraduate fellow may work on-site with an actual school or educational organization with whom we are collaborating, may collect and analyze data, may develop survey experiments, may manage mail and phone vendors for implementing fall 2014 experiments, and may review existing relevant literature. The student will also likely be exposed to several other projects I am working on related to the psychological dimensions of student motivation.

Skills needed
The student should be interested in psychology, decision-making, influence, education, and/or behavioral economics.  The student should also be motivated, punctual, hardworking, and flexible.

Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning
Stephanie Jones (developmental psychology, education and social intervention, child and family policy)

Jones website (GSE Prevention Science and Practice)

The Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning (EASEL) laboratory, led by Dr. Stephanie Jones in the Prevention Science and Practice department at Harvard Graduate School of Education, explores the effects of high-quality social-emotional interventions on the development and achievement of children, youth, teachers, parents, and communities. Our work takes place in applied settings (e.g., schools and communities), and we employ a combination of rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate how particular configurations and transactions between individuals, their social groups, the settings in which they interact, and broader social contexts influence human development. Some of our current projects are described below.

Early Childhood
     Executive Function Mapping Project. Recent literature highlights the importance of executive function and regulation-related skills for the positive development of children and youth. EF and related skills have been linked to outcomes such as school readiness, academic achievement, and mental health (Blair & Razza, 2007; Eisenberg et al, 2004; McClelland et al, 2007). In particular, the ability to use self-control strategies during early childhood predicts long-term outcomes including SAT scores, high school graduation and retention, juvenile delinquency, and adult income and savings-related behavior (Mischel, Shoda & Peake, 1988; Moffit et al, 2011). These findings have generated many new efforts to design programs and strategies that build EF in the early childhood years, especially among low-income children. However, there is little consensus on how to define or measure EF, and both researchers and practitioners use a variety of terms interchangeably (e.g., cognitive control, self-regulation, emotion regulation, self-control). With funding from the federal Office of Head Start, this project aims to create a comprehensive database of the multiple terms, measures, and findings in the EF and regulation-related literatures, and to generate a set of tools including a visual “map” of the research landscape in order to support more effective translation into applied contexts. Research assistants may have the opportunity to contribute to research and/or translational phases of the project, including conducting focus groups with key stake-holders in the field of early childhood development.

Pre-K to Grade 5
     National Governors Association (NGA) Policy Academy. Working with the NGA Center for Best Practices Education Division, Dr. Jones and research staff serve as expert consultants for a multi-year Policy Academy, in which a small group of states are involved in developing or adapting standards, assessments, and teaching guidelines to enhance alignment across state-wide early learning and K-5 education systems. Our team provides expertise on the development of social-emotional and self-regulation skills in young children and the appropriate translation of research into age-based standards, assessments, benchmarks, and supportive teaching practices. Research assistants interested in translational work across research, policy, and practice sectors may have the opportunity to: (a) participate in working sessions with state policy-makers and practitioners, (b) contribute to the development of frameworks or other documents that help to guide states' early learning and K-5 alignment activities, and/or (c) assist in writing policy briefs that describe findings from this collaboration.

     SECURe: Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding and Regulation in Education. In the past 5 years, a number of efficacy trials have demonstrated that children's academic and social- emotional functioning can be improved by targeting executive functioning and emotional and behavioral regulation in preschool and elementary school curricula (Bierman et al, 2008; Diamond et al, 2007; Raver et al, 2009). While these findings emphasize that high-quality, targeted programs can place children on a more positive academic and developmental trajectory, a less optimistic hypothesis suggests these gains will be sustained only as long as children continue to have access to the conditions and teacher practices that supported the development of skills during the intervention year(s).
     The SECURe project addresses this issue by developing a school-based intervention that is both horizontally and vertically aligned: it will develop curricula that targets executive functioning and social, emotional, and cognitive regulation skills (horizontal alignment across developmental domains), while developing benchmarks, teacher training, and school structures and routines that span the Pre-K to school divide (vertical alignment across the Pre-K to school transition). Key aspects of the project include program development and implementation, data management and analysis, and development and documentation of the school and teacher alignment processes.
     Research assistants will gain familiarity with the literatures on executive functions and social-emotional development and school-based intervention programs, and will have the opportunity to contribute to various phases of program development and implementation. Specific summer 2014 projects may include adapting the curriculum, classroom supports, and teacher training and coaching materials; and preliminary analysis of implementation, feasibility and evaluation data.

Elementary and Middle School
     4Rs: Reading, Writing, Respect, and Resolution Program. The New York City Study of Social and Literacy Development is a longitudinal, experimental evaluation of the 4Rs program in 18 New York City public elementary schools. The evaluation began with 18 public elementary schools, 9 of which were randomly assigned to the intervention group (4Rs) and 9 to the non-intervention control group. In these schools, a cohort of approximately 900 3rd grade children were followed for 3 years to examine the longitudinal influence of the 4Rs program components on children's academic and social-emotional outcomes. Comprehensive and detailed data were gathered from students, their teachers and parents, from both archived and school-based academic and disciplinary records, from independent classroom and school observations, and qualitative interviews with school principals. Students have been followed throughout the transition to middle school.
     The evaluation's specific focus is on the impact of the 4Rs program on students' social-emotional and academic development, their health risk behaviors including aggression, depression, and substance use, teachers' professional development and relationships with students, parenting and parent involvement, and overall classroom and school climate. We are particularly interested in (1) the degree to which changes in teachers' own professional development mediate impacts of the program on children, (2) the nature of the relationship between 4Rs and change in social-emotional versus academic outcomes over time, and (3) the impact of key classroom, family, and neighborhood moderators on the link between 4Rs and outcomes over time.
     Research assistants working on this project will have the opportunity to learn and apply quantitative and qualitative data analytical techniques to explore individual development across time, and the effects of contextual, relational, social and psychological features on development. Specific summer 2014 projects may include quantitative analyses of students' and teachers' social networks, qualitative and quantitative explorations of key dimensions of student-teacher relationships, and evaluations of key individual and classroom-level mediators linking the experience of the 4Rs intervention and child and teacher outcomes.

School, Home, and Community Interactions
     The Making Caring Common Project. The Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education seeks to place moral and social development at the center of conversations about raising and educating children, and seeks to strengthen the ability of schools, parents, and communities to support the development of children's ethical and social capacities, including the ability to take responsibility for others, to think clearly about and pursue justice, and to treat people well day to day. The Making Caring Common Project is currently focused on three primary, overlapping bodies of work: (1) a school-based data-driven improvement initiative, (2) resource and intervention development, and (3) media and messaging strategy development and dissemination. Research assistants working on the project will gain familiarity with broad social-emotional, moral development, school climate, and bullying literatures and current prevention and intervention strategies and resources. Specific projects may include the analysis and reporting of student survey data focused on moral and social development, student values, and school relationships; the development and review of research-based resources for schools, parents, or students; and the development or analysis of interventions that target social- emotional or moral development.

Skills needed
No particular background is required to participate in this project. Skills in computer programming and statistical analysis, as well as interest in social, emotional and behavioral development and in the structure of social relationships during early and middle childhood would be helpful.

Development of Cooperative Behavior in Children
Felix Warneken (developmental and comparative psychology)

Warneken website (FAS Psychology)

Professor Warneken's lab seeks to investigate the behaviors that make us human and to trace their emergence in evolution. We study young children and compare their behavior to that of chimpanzees. By studying children, we can gain insight into the developmental origins of human behaviors, and better understand the psychological and social factors that contribute to its emergence. By comparing these behaviors to those of chimpanzees, we can learn what aspects of these behaviors are unique to humans and which were likely present in our evolutionary ancestors.

One major line of our current research is the development of children's tendency to cooperate with others: What motivates children to help others? How does children's sense of fairness emerge and how does it vary across different cultures? We are focusing on children from early childhood into school age to elucidate the interplay of biological predispositions and cultural norms in the emergence of human cooperative behaviors.

In the summer of 2014, we will conduct several studies on children's fairness behavior. Previous work has shown that while young children tend to be more selfish and keep valuable resources to themselves, older children value fairness more and are willing to share with others. We are interested in investigating the factors that underlie these developmental changes. Do children learn that when they share with someone now, this person might reciprocate the favor in the future? Do children share because others are watching and they want to appear fair? Or do children develop a general sense of fairness and apply equality norms to guide their behavior? We investigate these questions by developing child-appropriate experimental paradigms that can be used across different age groups. In some cases, we even use these tasks cross-culturally.

For example, we have developed an experimental paradigm to assess how children would respond to inequality. Our child participant is shown how Child A wants to keep all of the candy, not leaving anything to another Child B. What will our child participant do? Will they let this inequality go by or are they likely to intervene against this selfish behavior? We found that starting between six and eight years of age, children think that this wouldn't be fair and are even willing to give up some of their own candy to prevent Child A from being selfish towards Child B. This is striking because in this context, children are simply an uninvolved third party, but still have a tendency to prevent unfairness among others. In studies with adults, this has been called "third party punishment", and is known to vary across cultures. We are now in the process of refining our methods for young children and conducting a cross-cultural study to determine whether our results with children from Boston hold when we test children in other cultures.

Moreover, we are testing under what circumstances they are using equality norms for their own sharing behaviors as well. How do they solve the tension between a selfish desire to keep the resource and a fairness norm to share things equally with others? Do children realize that if they are generous to another peer now, the peer might return the favor in the future? By using child-appropriate methods, we can trace children's development of fairness and the underlying motivations to cooperate with others.

During the summer of 2014, studies will be conducted in the testing rooms of the Social Cognitive Development Group at the Department of Psychology, as well as in public parks in Cambridge and Boston. We conduct studies typically in teams of three researchers: one graduate student or senior lab member together with two undergraduate research assistants. The summer is the most productive time for data collection, and it is thus the most rewarding time for everyone involved, enabling students to participate in research projects from the planning phase all the way to the data analysis. BLISS fellows will gain experience in designing and conducting experimental studies with children ranging from 3 to 10 years of age. All testing sessions are videotaped for further data analysis, and undergraduate students will thus be trained in video coding using the software INTERACT, as well as basic statistical analyses to establish inter-rater reliability and descriptive statistics. In addition to experimental data, some studies will include questionnaires and short interviews to gain a better understanding of the cultural background and allow comparisons of the different communities in which our research team and our collaborators perform their research.

Students will be supervised by the PI, as well as a postdoc and graduate students. Our lab has a full-time lab manager to help with administrative tasks and organize the summer internship program. We hold weekly lab meetings, where undergraduate students will discuss background papers from psychology, behavioral economics, and anthropology, and summarize their research project. 

Skills needed
An interest in psychology and working with children is essential. Previous experience in either area (or both) is a plus.

Conceptions of National Identity Among Ethnic Minorities in the United States
Bart Bonikowski (sociology, identity, politics)

Bonikowski website (FAS Sociology)

My work examines the role of meaning-making in politics. Among my primary research interests is the question of how different segments of a given national population vary in their understanding of the nation and how these competing perceptions affect political attitudes and behaviors. I have previously explored this question using cross-national survey data, but am now pursuing three new projects on the topic: a study of the affective dimensions of nationalist beliefs using online survey experiments and physiological data collected in the laboratory setting; a project tracing the daily fluctuations in levels of U.S. national identification using all public tweets posted since 2010; and a mixed-methods study comparing national sentiments across ethnic minority groups in the U.S.

BLISS participants will have the opportunity to work on the project that examines conceptions of national identity among ethnic minorities in the United States. In an era of intensifying global migration and growing ethnic diversity, questions of immigrant acculturation, anti-immigrant sentiments, and changing symbolic boundaries of the nation have become central in political discourse and academic scholarship. While social scientists have long studied the conceptions of national identity espoused by majority groups, they have paid less attention to the wide range of national sentiments among ethnic minorities. Based on in-depth interviews and a large-scale survey administered to a sample of ethnic minorities in the United States, this study will systematically document how members of minority groups understand the nation-state and how these perceptions affect their political attitudes and behaviors. The data collection will explicitly focus on the interaction between respondents' multiple national affinities in order to capture the multilayered and dynamic processes of collective identification.

The research project consists of three phases: exploratory in-depth interviews with ethnic minority group members in the Boston area, the development of a robust survey instrument for collecting data on national identity, and the administration of the survey to a nationally representative sample. The first two phases will be completed over the summer months—and will be the focus of the BLISS program—while the third phase will begin in the fall of 2014.

The internship opportunity is designed to give students a comprehensive overview of mixed-methods social scientific research. Students will have the opportunity to participate in all stages of the research process, including preparing literature reviews, developing interview questions, scheduling and conducting interviews, transcribing and coding interview data, and designing and testing a survey instrument based on the results of the interviews. Students will also be given access to past grant proposals and IRB applications used in the development of the project. Extensive mentorship will be provided by me and graduate students working on the project; at the same time, however, BLISS students will be granted considerable autonomy in their work. The entire research team will meet weekly to discuss the progress of the study. Upon the completion of the BLISS program, interested students will have the option of applying for paid research positions on the project.

Skills needed
Students are not required to have prior experience with sociological research; general interest in social science and enthusiasm for primary data collection are sufficient. Given the nature of the project, students should be comfortable carrying on extended conversations with strangers.

Harvard Decision Science Laboratory Internship
Nina Cohodes and affiliated researchers (behavioral and decision sciences)

HSDL website (HKS) and list of affiliated researchers

If you are interested in experimental research but haven’t yet had a chance to work on an experimental team… If you are curious to know how behavioral researchers are exploring cognitive biases and other factors that predictably—and unconsciously—shape our decisions… If you want to work with faculty and other researchers from a variety of different disciplines and schools across Harvard in order to explore different topics and research questions in behavioral science…

Then you should be a BLISS Fellow at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory (HSDL).

Who we are
Researchers from all across the university, and at all levels of the scholarly community from senior faculty to undergraduate researchers—use our facility to investigate how emotion, neuroscience, and cognitive processes combine to shape human judgment and decision-making. Researchers who do work here include such folks as David Rand in evolutionary biology, Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School, Joshua Greene in the department of Psychology, Dustin Tingley in the department of Government, and Günther Fink in the School of Public Health.

Our laboratory provides experimenters with the means to monitor specific physiological signals (heart rate and heart-rate variability, thoracic blood flow, blood pressure, peripheral temperature, respiration rate, skin conductance, electromyography) as well as neuroendocrine processes (through salivary assays); to relate these signals to specifically induced affective states; and to pursue specific research hypotheses as to how these relate to risk perception and risk tolerance, evaluation of alternatives, and choices of action.

HDSL also maintains a large subject pool as a resource to experimenters conducting work here. Participants in the pool can take part in both in-lab and online studies conducted through HDSL. We are constantly seeking ways of improving both the size of, and variety within, our subject pool.

Because we are administratively situated in HKS, we also actively seek to create engagements between behavioral scientists, scholars of policy, and decision-makers in the public and private sectors. Undergraduates working in the lab have an opportunity to participate in these conversations, in order to see at first hand the rising importance of insights gained from behavioral research in shaping policy interventions and deliberative processes.

What you’ll do
BLISS Fellows at HDSL will be assigned to work alongside investigators undertaking research in the lab during the summer. The months of the summer can be busy in the lab, as they offer researchers an opportunity to conduct experiments free of the obligations and distractions of the academic year.

BLISS Fellows will have an opportunity to work with experimenters in the conceptualization and design of their experiments; in programming these designs using standard tools for subject interaction (for example, MediaLab, z-Tree, E-Prime, MatLab, Qualtrics); in conducting the experiments and interacting with subjects in the lab; and in compiling and analyzing experimental data.

In addition, as part of their basic training in the tools of this laboratory, as an HDSL BLISS Fellow you’ll be trained on the use of physiological monitoring systems for behavioral experiments. This “Physio Boot Camp” involves training in the correct placement of sensors, assuring the clarity of a signal for data collection, skills for respectful interactions with subjects, and use of software tools (specifically BioLab) for the analysis of physiological data.

Core Competency Training
Through online and in-person trainings and work experience in the laboratory, the HDSL training program for BLISS Fellows is designed to help develop some or all of the following core competencies:

Skills needed
Undergraduates from all disciplines are welcome to apply as we support a diverse pool of investigators. We do recommend that students have taken an introductory course in economics and/or psychology. Interest in decision science in general as well as a willingness to jump into the variety of different projects that are likely to be running in the summer are important. Working for the Decision Science Laboratory is a great opportunity for students to learn skills they want to acquire. We provide structured training in the development of experimental methods and experience in conducting experiments.

Measuring "Rape Culture" and Its Effects
Matthew Baum and Dara Kay Cohen (political science, international relations, communication)

Baum website; Cohen website (HKS Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs)

Professor Baum's research focuses on delineating the effects of domestic politics on international conflict and cooperation in general and American foreign policy in particular, as well as on the role of the mass media and public opinion in contemporary politics. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and several books employing large-scale news content analyses, and is currently completing several projects using content analytic techniques to investigate differences in media coverage of international events across countries.

Professor Cohen's research interests span the field of international relations, including international security, civil war and the dynamics of violence during conflict, and gender and conflict. She has published several peer- reviewed articles on rape and sexual violence during wartime, and is currently completing a book project on the causes of rape during civil war. She has also written about the politics of statistics on rape and sexual violence, as well as why accurate statistics are so difficult to gather.

During the course of the past year, a number of prominent news stories about rape and sexual assault have provoked significant discussion and debate, both in the U.S. and overseas. For example, a brutal, ultimately fatal gang rape in Delhi in December 2012 sparked international outrage, and was intensely covered by news media around the world.

Observers have argued that the biases apparent in news coverage of these events and issues, and others like them, constitute evidence of a "culture of rape." Scholars have defined rape culture as "a set of values and beliefs that provide an environment conducive to rape" (Boswell and Spade 1996), and that results in a situation where "rape is often not acknowledged as a crime and its victims are frequently blamed and held responsible for their own violation" (Vogelman 1990). Feminist Naomi Wolf recently wrote in an op-ed that the idea of rape culture— that there exist "systems, institutions and attitudes that are more likely to encourage rape and protect rapists"—is not yet widely understood.

As the term "rape culture" has become more prominent over the last couple of years, so too have discussions of its effects, which are often assumed in policy discourse. One of the central concerns in this discourse is that by minimizing the culpability of the perpetrator, rape culture may contribute to a perceived impunity for sexual violence and an increased future frequency of rape. In addition, there is a fear that rape culture, by implicitly or explicitly blaming victims for their assaults, might discourage future victims and survivors from reporting their rapes to the authorities.

Although rape culture has attracted considerable attention in recent public debate, there have not been any comprehensive global studies to measure either its extent or its effects on the future reporting of or estimated incidence of rape. This project fills these gaps by systematically examining the existence, magnitude and effects of rape culture. Specifically, we will measure rape culture around the globe as apparent in national and international news and in social media, as well as the relationship between rape culture and reporting of rape in crime statistics.

We have two central research questions. First, is there systematic evidence of rape culture in the news media and social media? If so, how does rape culture vary across space and time? What are the correlates of a strong rape culture? Second, what are the effects of rape culture? Is variation in rape culture correlated with increases or decreases in the reported prevalence of rape and related forms of sexual violence?

To answer these questions, we will use new computer-based methods that enable us to analyze the content of a universe of domestic and international news coverage for a period of over a decade. In particular, we will analyze all news stories about rape that appeared in any of approximately 2,500 newspapers across 114 countries for which we have data between 2000 and 2013. We will also analyze the content of a large, random subset of Twitter data, approximately 3 million Tweets, from 2011 to the present. In short, we will harness new technologies to examine a set of immensely policy relevant questions that have yet to be studied systematically, and never before on such a large scale.

Fellows' Tasks
The BLISS Fellows will assist in collecting the dataset and the associated materials from newspaper and social media coverage of rape and other forms of sexual violence. The BLISS Fellows will be involved in the first stages of the collection and preliminary analysis of the global dataset. We plan to begin several research projects using the data this summer, and the Fellows will be able to participate actively in this process. These research projects include analyzing the patterns in the data (e.g. What are the patterns in newspaper reporting on rape across the 50 U.S. states?) as well as patterns in the reporting practices of the sources (e.g. Which types of newspaper outlets are more likely to report on rape? What is the nature of that coverage?)

All Fellows will be involved in collecting and coding data from newspapers and social media. In addition, depending on the Fellows' skills, background and interests, the BLISS Fellows may be asked to conduct background research for literature reviews, and to draft sections of academic articles. The Fellows may conduct preliminary statistical analyses of the data and/or may research the details of particular cases for the preparation of case studies to be used in academic articles and policy briefs. Finally, the Fellows may be involved in the development and drafting of policy briefs intended to disseminate the findings from the dataset to a public audience.

Skills needed
A background in political science, economics or sociology is preferred, as well as a strong interest in social science research. The ideal candidate will be detailed-oriented and have excellent research and writing skills. Previous research experience and/or non-English language skills (especially Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese or Russian) preferred, but not required.

Boston Reentry Study
Bruce Western (sociology, poverty, inequality, incarceration)

Western website (FAS Sociology, HKS Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy)

My academic work focuses broadly on poverty and inequality in the United States. My general research interests include labor markets, economic inequality, criminal justice policy, incarceration, and the effects of incarceration on poor communities. A recent research focus has been to develop methodologies to study hard-to-reach populations, including the formerly-incarcerated. These men and women are typically invisible to standard sociological research, such as household surveys. My current research -- particularly in the Boston Reentry Study -- aims to understand how we can better collect data on those recently released from prison.

During the summer of 2014, BLISS fellows will work on the Boston Reentry Study (BRS), a research project housed at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The BRS is a longitudinal survey of Massachusetts state prisoners newly-released to the Boston area. The BRS collects data on 123 men and women, first interviewing them a week before prison release, and then repeatedly over the following year. The data collection combines a panel survey, qualitative interviews, interviews with family members, and linkage to administrative records on criminal history and program participation. The interviews and supplementary data collections aim to provide a detailed picture of householding, employment, health, family history, and criminal involvement of people returning to their communities from prison.

BLISS fellows will have the opportunity to participate in several components of the BRS, including entry of survey responses into a quantitative database, transcription of audio files, team meetings on study progress, and both quantitative and qualitative data analysis. A key project for the summer will be an innovative qualitative data analysis. By the end of data collection (early summer 2014), we expect to have audio recordings and completed survey instruments of nearly 700 respondent and family member interviews. Using these sources, as well as administrative records, BLISS fellows will assist our research team in constructing narrative life histories of the BRS respondents.

Study respondents are interviewed five times over the course of a year – about 1 week prior to prison release, and then 1 week, 2 months, 6 months, and 12 months after prison release. We plan to use the data collected from these five interviews, plus data from family member interviews, to organize respondents' lives chronologically, recording the age and social context of life events. The life histories will then be analyzed with qualitative analysis software, so that we can systematically code and compare across the life histories of various respondents. We aim to explore how the process of community return from prison is associated with individuals' histories of family relationships, institutionalization, and their sources of material and social support.

Life histories will consist of two narratives – one that details the events in the year after prison-release, and another that aims to capture respondents' life experiences prior to prison and their experiences of confinement. Because respondents are all at different points in their life course, the first piece of the life history may cover different periods of their lives: early childhood through age 14, teenage years/early adulthood, later adulthood (if applicable), experiences of earlier incarceration and reentry (if applicable), and their most recent incarceration (including the period immediately prior). The second narrative will tend to be more uniform, since all respondents in the sample will have experienced recent prison release.

BLISS fellows will play a key role in this qualitative analysis. A typical week might include reviewing all of the data we have for a specific study respondent, including survey responses, audio files, information from family members, and administrative records. A fellow would work with BRS research staff to organize this data chronologically, sometimes directly transcribing relevant data from audio files, to piece together a life history narrative for a respondent. The week might include meeting with the study respondent's main interviewer (a graduate student or research staff member) to check the accuracy of the narrative with the interviewer's understanding of the study respondent. Fellows will also participate in meetings with the entire research team every 2 to 3 weeks to learn more about the BRS more generally and to gain a broader understanding of research methods, from study design to data analysis. The fellows may also have the opportunity to write up results in a more formal way before the end of the summer, in conjunction with other research staff.

Skills needed
Familiarity with Microsoft Office (Excel and Word) and an interest in writing will be helpful for this research project. Basic training in sociological methods is also helpful, though not required. This might include knowledge of survey methods, interviewing, transcription, and basic data analysis. We seek students who pay close attention to detail and who look forward to working with a larger research team.

Language Acquisition in Children
Jesse Snedeker (psychology, psycholinguistics, language acquisition)

Snedeker website (FAS Psychology)

Language is not one representation but many. A spoken utterance can be characterized as a string of phonemes, a nested set of prosodic phrases, a series of lexical items, a hierarchically-organized syntactic tree, a configuration of semantic relations, or the impetus for inferences about the speaker's intentions. A fundamental challenge for the psychology of language is to understand the relations between these representations: the degree to which they are distinct, the ways in which they constrain one another, and the role that these connections play in language acquisition. My lab explores these questions with a primary focus on semantic representations and their relation to syntax and pragmatics. Semantic representations are central to cognitive science because they provide a window into our generative conceptual capacity. Language allows us to combine concepts from diverse cognitive domains. Understanding how meaning is encoded in language is central to understanding conceptual combination.

Our approach to these questions is experimental and developmental. The study of semantics has been based largely on the judgments of trained linguists. Where these judgments are unclear, controversial or uninformative, theories diverge. By using a broader range of methods with diverse populations, we can gain additional insight into the processes that give rise to meaning and the representations they create. Developmental work is critical for two reasons: 1) Adult language processing is complex and interactive, by observing language at an earlier state we may gain a deeper understanding of its architecture; 2) Developmental studies allow us to explore the relation between language and conceptual development. If the semantics of external languages build on a prior language of thought, then we would expect many aspects of semantic structure to develop early and constrain language acquisition. In contrast, if external language is the sole mechanism of domain-general conceptual combination, then we might expect conceptual and linguistic development to be closely yoked.

The acquisition of language is one of the most striking developments during childhood. In a rapid pace, infants and toddlers go from sound imitation to multi-word utterances, and then, as preschoolers, they set out to master advanced syntactic and semantic rules in full, complex sentences. To achieve this mastery of abstract rules, children use a set of cues that help them in acquiring language. An important line of research is to investigate the cues and tools that enable children to learn the immensely complicated rules of language, and the stepping stones that help them ahead.

One such stepping stone is to learn labels for concrete objects first. The fact that objects like "ball" and "doggie" and "milk" can be pointed at makes it easier to acquire nouns; thus, a frequent finding is that children learn nouns before most verbs. Interestingly, it has also been found that adults, when talking to children, use many "nouned verbs": For example, they will say "give me a hug please" much more often than "hug me, please"; children hear "can you do a dance?" much more often than "can you dance?" Thus, at first glance it looks like adults intuitively know that children are very good at learning nouns, and so they package the more abstract verbs into nouns, making them easier to understand for children. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that being a noun has an intrinsic value for the child's learning mechanism. On the other hand, however, it is conceivable that the real reason why verbs get "nouned" has to do with information structure: Nouns appear most often on the beginning or end of a sentence and are thus very prominent, while verbs tend to be somewhere less pronounced in the middle.

The projects that one or more BLISS Fellows will work on are designed to tease these and other possible hypotheses apart. In one study series, we will show preschoolers (4-5 years old) novel actions and teach them labels for the actions. Those labels are either presented in a variety of noun forms, or in a variety of verb forms. We will observe whether the syntactic form (noun or verb), position (end or middle of sentence), and a variety of other factors will influence children's learning of the action-object labels. If successful, we attempt to test younger children as well.

This project will be part of the summer internship program that our laboratory, together with others in the department, organizes every year. The BLISS Fellow will be paired with a graduate researcher, and will be involved in all major steps of psycholinguistic research: Preparing study stimuli, conducting literature searches, recruiting participants, coding, entering, and transcribing data, and presenting their results. The BLISS Fellow will participate in a weekly Reading Group to talk about 1-2 journal articles with other interns, in which 1-2 research mentors moderate the discussion.  S/he will also participate in our weekly lab meetings.

Skills needed
An active interest in working with children, some background in linguistics and psychology, a high degree of independence, problem-solving skills and the ability and interest to quickly acquire new skills.

Petitioning in American History
Daniel Carpenter (political science, sociology, history)

Carpenter website (FAS Government)

A research team headed by Daniel Carpenter, Freed Professor of Government, is examining the diffusion of petitioning in American history. Our focus is both "micro" (how individual petitions were put together) and "macro" (how petitions in greater numbers were sent to Congress and state legislatures). We will collaborate with undergraduate researchers to examine both of these processes, focusing on slavery-related petitions at first and broadening our scope to include petitions on a range of subjects and petitions up to the present day.

The petition stands as one of the most vital institutions and expressive patterns of American culture and American democracy. Petitions comprised a critical vehicle for the expression of resistance during the American Revolution; they were common means of communicating across cultural boundaries; they were central modes of expression and organization in dozens of social movements ranging from temperance and anti-Sabbatarianism, to women's suffrage and minority rights, to anti-slavery and anti-segregation campaigns.

Reflecting this history, the amount of petitioning in American history appears to be vast. Historical records suggest that, for the first 150 years of the American republic, petitioning was an incredibly widespread and common practice in everyday life for millions of Americans, a practice that welcomed the energies of African-Americans, Native Americans and women whose liberties in voting, property-owning, mobility and other forms of expression were severely circumscribed for most of American history. Among many repositories, the petitions and memorials collection of the National Archives and Records Administration for the House of Representatives (from 1789 to 1945 alone, Record Group 233) holds approximately 6,100 cubic feet of petitioning materials. Plausible calculations suggest that this collection alone may contain more than one million petitions, with a billion or more signatures.  Taking into account the wealth of petition collections in state archives and other locations, it is plausible that much more petitioning material is available in other venues.

We have three organizing aims for the coming year:

1. Create General Databases of Petitions and Spatial Data on Their Origins and Diffusion. A first goal of the Petitions Project Archive is to create a publicly accessible database of thousands of anti-slavery, finance-related and Native American petitions from the 18th and 19th centuries, so that citizens, teachers and students can access digital images with the click of a mouse. We will create searchable text files of each petition (including its signatory list), so that citizens and scholars can query our database about individual signers of a petition as well as the particular language to which they affixed their names. At least one access interface for the petitions will appear in the form of a map (both of the United States and including state-specific maps for states from which petitions were sent). Within these maps, the petitions will be linked to towns and countries (and statistically geo-coded) so that public users and researchers can examine petitions by the point of their origin.

2. Create Signatory Lists and Map – in Network and Geographical Data – Sequences of Signatures. One of the biggest tasks that we face is transcribing the signatory lists from these hundreds of images of petitions. Once these signatory lists are transcribed the names will then be looked up in This task will enable us to examine the exact location of the signatories and hopefully gain an understanding of the issues that specific families deemed relevant. Once the background is obtained on the signatory the data will be geocoded and a map will be created.

We will also, in the course of the coming year, be analyzing many petitions with geocoded signatory data. These include some particular antislavery petitions sent to Congress from New York City and Rochester, New York, as well as some Iraq-War petitions from Wisconsin in 2006, where each signatory was identified with her or his address. This petition and others like it will allow us to map the spatial creation of the petition, going from 'top" to "bottom" of the signatory list (or where papers were pasted together, multiple signatory lists). Using other biographical and city historical data, we can examine which persons signed (and which did not) and consider the role played by networks and civic space in petition canvassing.

3. Examine Contemporary Petitions, including Electronic Petitions. We will supplement these historical petitions with data on contemporary petitions (one of our team members has assembled a database of 2006 petitions related to the Iraq War, also with signatories geocoded). Through partnerships we are developing with political organizations, we are also gaining access to electronic petitions. Modern petitions – whether paper or electronic – also have a significant role to play in politics. In the past few years we have witnessed business policy reversals by Bank of America and Verizon because young people have started online petitions contesting their practices.

Work with petitions like these provides a unique opportunity to work closely with a highly skilled and thoughtful research team. The BLISS fellow-collaborator will be able to see instant results, and Professor Carpenter is known for his outstanding teaching and undergraduate mentorship. For example: The first step is the transcription of the signatory lists of specified petitions. Once completed, the BLISS fellow-collaborator will move onto the phase of conducting genealogical research utilizing the cutting edge tools that are becoming widely available through Once completed, the BLISS fellow-collaborator will develop the knowledge to jockeyed the data so that it will accurately reflect the location of the said movement on the specified petition. The BLISS fellow-collaborator will then search newspapers from the specified time period and location that may provide more insight into the reasoning behind the signatories desire to participate in the movement.

Skills needed
Use of spreadsheets and willingness to learn new software will be essential.  Knowledge of U.S. and/or North American politics and history will be helpful.  Although it is not necessary, knowledge of either French and/or Spanish may also be helpful.

Using GIS to Study the Russian Empire
Kelly O'Neill (history, geographic information systems)

O'Neill website (FAS History)

My research and teaching interests revolve around the history of the Russian Empire. My first book, Southern Empire: the Logic and Limits of Russian Rule in Crimea, reconstructs the incorporation of the peoples, places, and institutions of the Crimean khanate (a predominantly Muslim state conquered by Catherine II in 1783) into the Russian imperial system. My current projects include articles that examine the Black Sea slave trade in the 19th century and the development of the Russian wine industry, as well as a book project on the environmental and economic history of Russian rivers. I am particularly interested in exploring the potential of digital history methods and am in the process of developing an historical GIS of the cultural and commercial infrastructure of the tsarist empire.

Space has always been an important theme in Russian history. Many a textbook opens by declaring that the reader will understand nothing of the tsars, serfs, revolutionaries and artists who inhabit the Russian past if he or she does not appreciate the vast, varied, and generally unforgiving nature of its terrain. Rarely, however, have scholars moved from describing to analyzing imperial space and the ways in which it has shaped human experience.

At the turn of the twentieth century advocates of geopolitics laid out beguiling theories of geographical determinism and attempted to map the Russian 'heartland.' Their successors used the relationship between pine needles and crop yields to explain the willingness of the Russian people to submit to centuries of autocratic rule. The historical discipline has experienced several major permutations since then: political, social, and cultural historians took their respective turns leading the charge toward new discoveries and the elaboration of new methodologies. The spatial turn is a more recent development. By now many historians have embraced the notion of space as a social or cultural construct, but most shy away from concepts (let alone measures) of distance, density, distribution, and scale. We have yet to mine the significance of space as an analytical tool; to systematically map demographic shifts or the development of cultural institutions, or to visualize social networks or patterns of mobility.

The innovations of digital scholarship are rapidly removing many of the obstacles that have prevented historians from harnessing the vast quantitative material at our disposal and using it to gain new insights into the human past. Among the many tools that encourage us to annotate, compare, compile, sort, sample, visualize, manipulate, and model, GIS is particularly useful to historians. It allows us, for example, to layer information in a single visual field and identify patterns and relationships that would otherwise have remained obscure. While students working on contemporary issues are able to download rich datasets from the World Health Organization or NASA (to take but two examples), students of the past must generate their own data from scratch. Historical GIS work involves everything from compiling data on trade routes, weather conditions, and population density, to mapping sacred spaces and the circulation of literary texts.

The Imperiia Project (imperiia is the Russian word for ‘empire’) is an attempt to develop a robust historical GIS that documents and analyzes the infrastructure of mobility in the Russian Empire. I initiated the project several years ago and thanks to key contributions from undergraduates and graduate students, along with support from the Center for Geographic Analysis and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, it is beginning to take shape. The project has an online presence ( and we are in the process of developing a suite of interactive tools that will enable users to access and manipulate the geodatabase.

The goal for summer 2014 is to 1) compile data on the migration of peoples within and across Russian borders and 2) examine the impact of migration on relevant rural/urban landscapes. The movement of ethnic and religious minorities, nomadic peoples, peasants, foreign colonists, and others during both war and peace presents a rich array of research possibilities. (While the focus of the project remains the tsarist era, BLISS fellows are welcome to select episodes of migration from the Soviet or post-Soviet periods as well.) Fellows will use published primary and secondary sources to research the episodes they have selected, design and build geodatabases, and work with Prof. O’Neill to engage in spatial analysis of their findings. Some will find it necessary to digitize and georeference maps from the Harvard Map Collection. In most cases the result of their work will be a series of annotated map layers that will be incorporated into the Imperiia Project.

This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in conducting original research, learning about historical GIS, and becoming formal contributors to an ongoing piece of digital scholarship.

Skills needed
Experience conducting social science research is desirable; a background in history is preferred but not required. The fellow must be willing to engage in qualitative and quantitative analysis, and to learn the basics of GIS. Russian language is a welcome bonus; strong writing skills and familiarity with Excel are essential.

Experimental Social Psychology
Daniel Gilbert and Bethany Burum (psychology, social cognition)

Gilbert website (FAS Psychology)

I am an experimental social psychologist whose methods run from large-scale survey research (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010) to brain imaging (Mitchell, Schirmer, Ames, & Gilbert, 2010), but that generally focus on laboratory-based studies of human behavior. My primary research focus over the last 15 years has been on the errors people make when attempting to predict their emotional reactions to future events. The project described here involves three exciting new lines of research developed in collaboration with graduate student Bethany Burum.

1. The effects of co-experience. First, Burum and I have begun to examine what happens when a person believes that another person is having precisely the same experience at the same time. We have now done several preliminary studies to determine whether holding this belief changes the way people process and remember information, make judgments, and so on. We have developed an experimental paradigm in which participants interact with a confederate (a researcher who pretends to be a fellow participant) and then complete a task while believing either that the confederate is simultaneously completing either the same task (co-experience condition) or a different task (solo-experience condition). Our initial studies have shown that relative to participants in the solo-experience condition, participants in the co-experience condition showed changes in memory and emotion. We are currently conducting studies to help us understand just how and why this happens.

2. The effects of mental access. Second, Burum and I have begun to examine what happens when a person believes that another person has access to the normally private contents of his or her mind (e.g., his or her thoughts or feelings). We have now done several preliminary studies to determine whether believing that someone has such access changes one's own beliefs about one's thoughts or feelings. We have developed an experimental paradigm in which male participants see a film of a woman trying on bathing suits in a store's dressing room that was purportedly taken by an illicit hidden camera. Male participants find the film arousing because the actress is attractive, but they wish they didn't because of the nefarious circumstances under which it was purportedly made. After viewing the film, some participants are told that the experimenter was monitoring their physiological arousal by measuring pupillary dilation (access condition), and others are not told this (no-access condition). Participants then report on their own arousal. Our preliminary studies show that relative to the no-access condition, participants in the access condition are more likely to deny having been aroused by the film. In other words, knowing that another person had access to one's feelings appears to change one's memory of those feelings such that people remember feeling what they wished they had felt rather than what they really felt. We are currently conducting studies to help us understand just how and why this happens.

3. Altruism and patience. Third, Burum and I have begun to examine whether the willingness to make sacrifices for another person (altruism) is related to the willingness to make sacrifices for one’s future self (patience). One of our recent papers (Mitchell, et al., 2010) shows that people tend to think of their future selves as “someone else,” which suggests a potential connection between interpersonal and inter-temporal sacrifice. In our preliminary studies we have found a positive correlation between various measures of altruism and patience when people make hypothetical decisions. We are currently preparing to conduct more studies to determine whether this relationship holds for real decisions. For example, in one study participants believe that they are joining either the prosecution or the defense for a mock court case that will continue when they return in a week. Some participants are made to feel less connected to their future self in a week by being told that they will have to switch to the other side of the case when they return. Participants then have the choice between completing work immediately or saving it for when they return. Preliminary evidence suggests that participants who are told they will have to switch sides save more work for when they return, in essence being less altruistic toward their future selves. We will be conducting follow-up studies to explore this effect. The possibility that patience, prudence, and foresight are actually extrapolations of our basic social abilities strikes us as a potentially important idea.

BLISS students will gain specific research skills that will be invaluable should they decide to go to graduate school, but they will also gain critical thinking skills and an appreciation for the process by which knowledge is generated, which will be invaluable no matter what they decide to do. The skills that are required for research like ours—synthesizing and evaluating research articles, designing experiments and avoiding confounds, thinking empirically and analyzing data—are necessary for research in all areas of science, and are important for success in a wide range of careers. Students who have hands-on training in science make better scientists, but they also make better managers, better lawyers, and better senators.

I have had undergraduate research assistants working with me in my laboratory every year for 25 years, and many are now distinguished scientists. I believe that their experiences in my lab—much more than their experience in the classroom—were largely responsible for their career choices. Not only did they become interested in science by doing it, but they also got a close-up view of the "academic life," of professors, post-docs, and graduate students. They were able to see first-hand what it would be like to go to graduate school, what it would be like to be a professor, and as our own research has shown, observing other people's lives is the best way to predict how much you would like living them (Gilbert, Killingsworth, Eyre, & Wilson, 2009).

• Gilbert, D. T., Killingsworth, M. A., Eyre, R. N., & Wilson, T. D. (2009). The surprising power of neighborly advice. Science, 323, 1617-1619.
• Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(932).
• Mitchell, J. P., Schirmer, J., Ames, D. L., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). Medial prefrontal cortex predicts intertemporal choice. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 1-10.

Skills needed
Previous research experience in the social or biological sciences is very helpful but not necessary.

Quantitative Social Science
Ryan Enos and Dustin Tingley (political science)

Enos website; Tingley website (FAS Government)

Professors Enos and Tingley are experimental political scientists. They conduct experiments in a variety of settings to understand subjects ranging from racial attitudes to international relations, and are seeking a BLISS fellow who has an interest in quantitative aspects of social science.  The substantive topics will include analysis of data related to race, cities, and urban geography, as well as global warming and foreign attitudes toward America.

Professors Enos and Tingley will be conducting several projects during the 2014 BLISS fellowship period. Enos and Tingley will work closely with a BLISS fellow and coordinate our efforts. We hope this will provide twice the mentoring experience. As mentors we will focus on providing a coherent and integrated experience in the emerging use of experiments in political science.

Enos’ project consists of analyzing geographic data on the effects of racial segregation on attitudes and political behavior and executing an experiment to on the same topic. The BLISS fellow will help to find and analyze urban data from around the United States and will work to implement a laboratory experiment that help us to understand how racial segregation affects the way people think about other groups.

Tingley's project primarily consists of using new tools to analyze textual data coming from sources such as Twitter and other online sources. This data will be used to examine issues such as public opinion on global warming and foreign attitudes toward America.

While separate projects, they all have a similar research structure and emphasize similar inferential issues that confront social scientists. In addition, the projects will provide ample opportunities for skill attainment.

Skills needed
Some exposure to computer programming is a pre-requisite, this can include programs such as R, Python, or ArcGIS.  We also expect that the student will develop more of these skills over the summer.

Responses to Stigmatization: A Sociological Analysis
Michèle Lamont (sociology, racial identification and stigmatization)

Lamont website (FAS Sociology, AAAS)

Together with a group of international collaborators, I am studying responses to stigmatization among African-American middle class and working class men and women living in the New York area. We consider how responses vary with racial identification and segregation. We also analyze variations between types of incidents, contexts, and responses. Results are compared with similar data collected among Afro-Brazilians residing in and around Rio de Janiero, and among three groups living in and around Tel Aviv: Mizrachis, Ethiopian Jews, and Arab Israelis. We are completing a multi-authored book that considers how national ideologies, collective identities, segregation, racial identification, and other factors affect everyday responses to stigmatization and how these responses contribute to the transformation of racial hierarchies across national contexts. We hope to submit our book to publishers in the fall of 2014. Princeton University Press and other publishers have expressed interest in the project, which has already led to the publication of a book, Responses to Stigmatization in Comparative Perspective (edited by Lamont and Mizrachi), and of two special issues of journals (Ethnic and Racial Studies (April 2012) and the DuBois Review (June 2012)).

We will not have a set weekly or daily routine. In fact, tasks will vary from week to week, depending on the specific needs and challenges dictated by the production of chapters. The tasks carried by the undergraduates would include:

These various tasks will expose undergraduates to many of the stages that are central to the production of social science scholarship. Students would also get ample exposure to the dynamics of international and collaborative research – to its challenges and benefits. Our team has been collaborating since 2006. We have positive and productive team spirit and would welcome the opportunity to incorporate new undergraduates in our group. We are confident that this can be achieved easily. Indeed, two undergrads have been involved in the project for the past year (as WCFIA fellows) and they have greatly benefited from the experience.

Note that the research team includes several graduate students who will be interacting regularly with our undergrads by email and in person throughout the summer and will assist me in supervising the work of our interns.   They will share an office, located across the hall from my own office in William James Hall. This will facilitate training and collaboration.

Skills needed
Strong capacity to synthesize literature necessary. Familiarity with Atlas.ti and Excel is a plus, as are basic statistical skills.