Our Increasing Open Inquiry on College Campuses Research Grant funded five intervention studies on college campuses.
Across 2021, the highly selective Increasing Open Inquiry on College Campuses (IOICC) Research Grant funded studies of interventions that may increase college students’ empathy and perspective-taking, intellectual humility, curiosity, or open-minded cognition, or decrease their self-censorship.
The IOICC program invested $150,000 across five grants to support member research projects.
The Increasing Open Inquiry on College Campuses Research Grant is possible in whole through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed by funded projects are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.
Read about the current recipients and their impact.
Improving Perspective Taking and Empathy
HARNESSING THE POWER OF NARRATIVE TO IMPROVE PERSPECTIVE TAKING AND EMPATHY
Principal Investigators: Kristi Costabile, Associate Professor in Psychology and Director of the Social Cognition and Perception Laboratory, Iowa State University
Project Description: Costabile’s program of social cognition research suggests that narrative cognition reduces egocentric tendencies and encourages empathy for others. Her team’s research project will test the efficacy of an online intervention in which perspective-taking and empathy skills are enhanced through daily storytelling of everyday experiences. They propose that regular practice of telling stories will lead to a narrative cognition mindset that, in turn, will result in less biased social judgments.
Promoting Viewpoint Diversity and Perspective Taking
PROMOTING VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY AND PERSPECTIVE-TAKING THROUGH FUZZY COGNITIVE MAPPING
Principal Investigator: Cynthia Frantz, Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies, Oberlin College
Project Description: When thinking about complex and controversial topics such as systemic racism, socialist policies, or climate change, we all have assumptions — some explicit, some implicit — about what factors are important and how they relate to each other. Disagreements between people on different sides of an issue often stem from differences in these “mental models.” In this experimental project, Frantz’s team will employ the fuzzy cognitive mapping software “Mental Modeler” (developed by co-PI Gray ) as a tool to students (1) articulate implicit and explicit assumptions about their understanding of controversial societal issues, and (2) understand the viewpoints of those who disagree with them.
Cultivating Curiosity to Increase Empathy
CURIOSITY KILLS CLOSED MINDS: CULTIVATING CURIOSITY TO INCREASE EMPATHY IN COLLEGE STUDENTS
Principal Investigator: Sara Konrath, Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University
Project Description: College campuses are microcosms of our increasingly pluralistic society, and students often encounter others who differ from them. Konrath’s team believes that curiosity can help students empathically approach difference, rather than avoid it. Across two experiments, they will attempt to increase students’ curiosity in the hopes of motivating them to empathize with peers who hold different beliefs. Overall, this project aims to develop tools that college instructors can use in their classrooms, especially when discussing complex social topics.
Self-Censorship of Political Opinions
SELF-CENSORSHIP OF POLITICAL OPINION ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES: TESTING AN INTERVENTION TO CHANGE CAMPUS NORMS
Principal Investigator: Laurie O’Brien, Associate Professor of Psychology, Tulane University
Project Description: Group norm theory (e.g., Crandall et al., 2002) is a useful framework to understand self-censorship and political opinion expression on college campuses. O’Brien’s team proposes that fear of violating social norms can lead to self-censorship, and they will test an educational intervention to alter perceptions of campus norms. They hypothesize that educating students about existing political diversity on campus will change perceptions of local campus norms, decrease self-censorship, and increase political opinion expression.
Changing Online Social Networks
CAN CHANGING ONE’S ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORK INCREASE OPEN-MINDED COGNITION?
Principal Investigator: Jay van Bavel, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, New York University
Project Description: In a two-part project, van Bavel and team will start by connecting Twitter to self-report data to examine how certain social media behaviors correlate with various psychological traits. They aim to determine the types of Twitter accounts that tend to be followed by those who are high in open-mindedness, intellectual humility, and affective polarization. They will then instruct a large sample of participants to follow a number of “constructive” accounts associated with open-minded cognition and unfollow “polarizing” accounts associated with affective polarization. This data-driven intervention will contribute to an understanding of how online social networks can contribute to open-minded cognition and political polarization.
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