58 new projects start in the Open Competition SSH

Grote vliegers. Vliegerfestival op het strand.

How do informal caregivers survive? How do you get consumers to switch to sustainable and healthier food? How do you counter fake news and prejudice in individuals and organizations? How can one objectively determine such a subjective issue as human emotions?

What’s the role of the Reformed Church in the Dutch colonial past? Is there a link between the massive inflows of diverse ideas and experiences immigrants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century brought to the US and its rise as global technological leader? These are a few examples at the heart of the projects of 58 researchers in the field of social sciences and the humanities who will receive a grant from the available budget of the Open Competition SSH 2021 round.

The NWO Social Sciences and Humanities Domain Board has awarded a total of 39 million euros to these researchers from the 2021 Open Competition SSH funding round. This funding without any thematic conditions gives them the opportunity to carry out research into the subject of their own choice. With each proposal, a maximum budget of 750,000 euros could be applied for. NWO received a pre-proposal from 166 researchers. A total of 81 applicants eventually submitted a full proposal.

The granted projects

About the Open Competition SSH

The aim of the Open Competition – SSH is to facilitate excellent, non-programmed, curiosity-driven research that primarily addresses a social sciences or humanities research question and research problem. Researchers can apply for funding for different types of research: small or large research projects, and for individual projects or for research groups. Research can have a disciplinary, interdisciplinary or cross-domain character. The research can be aimed at international collaboration between researchers and/or research groups.

Additional funds for the Open Competition will be available on a structural basis[LM[1] . Because of these additional funds, more applications will be funded this year. Extra budget will also be added to the call for the SSH Open Competition XS that has just been opened. The total budget of the SSH Open Competition XS call will increase from 8 million to 12 million euros for the four rounds planned in 2022 and 2023.

The new Open Competition rounds will start at the end of the summer of 2022, see this news item for more information.

Granted projects

Crossing language borders
prof. dr. E.O. Aboh (UvA), dr. F.K. Ameka (LEI), dr. M.C.P.C Parafita Couto (LEI)

Multilinguals easily weave their languages together like artists engaged in a colourful painting on a canvas. This process is called code-switching/code-mixing (CSCM). In multilingual communities like in Benin (West Africa) and Belize (Central America), CSCM is the norm in conversations, but we still don’t know how speakers mentally adapt to such multilingual contexts. Using analytic tools of the language sciences, the project seeks to understand how multilingual speakers do it. The findings can impact policies and practices of language use in education in these and similar multilingual communities where language mixing is the daily practice.

N∅thing is Logical
dr. M.D. Aloni (UvA)

When told that you may stay or go, you normally conclude that you may stay and you may go, contrary to the prescriptions of classical logic. This project investigates such cases of divergence between human and logical-mathematical reasoning and, challenging the canonical view, hypotheses that they are a straightforward consequence of a tendency in human cognition to neglect empty representations (horror vacui). We will develop logics which model this tendency and rigorously isolate its effects on deductions and interpretation; and experimentally test the precise predictions arising from these formalisations.

How literacy shapes language learning: a longitudinal approach
dr. S.J. Andringa (UvA)

If you cannot read and write, then you probably do not know what a word is exactly, or that a letter represents one of the sounds we can make when speaking. Without such knowledge, it may be difficult to learn a language. We know that literacy imbues all kinds of cognitive changes, but we do not understand well yet what these changes mean for how a language is learned. This project tries to understand how literacy changes language acquisition by following groups of emerging readers (children and adults) longitudinally, when learning a language and simultaneously learning to read and write.

Innovating Methods for Open Science in Qualitative Management Research (OPEN-QUAL)
prof. dr. ir. J.J. Berends (VU)

Open science principles inspire collaboration in research. Sharing qualitative data obtained in management research, however, has been constrained by concerns for data privacy and confidentiality. OPEN-QUAL develops methodological principles for an innovative, decentralized approach to data reuse with no sharing of raw data. Decentralized analysis makes it possible to leverage the versatility of qualitative data and enables comparison across cases and datasets. We facilitate future data reuse by developing a discovery platform for finding relevant qualitative datasets and disseminating protocols. Thereby OPEN-QUAL contributes to more effective use of resources invested in qualitative research in management and other domains.

Corporate noncompliance: a life-course approach
prof. dr. mr. A.A.J. Blokland (NSCR), prof. dr. H.C. Dekker (VU), prof. dr. J.L. Wielhouwer (VU)

From severe environmental pollution to global financial crisis, corporate rule breaking can have a major impact on our daily safety, security and wellbeing. Building on insights from life-course criminology, this research aims at explaining and predicting patterns of corporate noncompliance and regulatory enforcement, and at estimating the effects of different kinds of enforcement on corporate rule breaking. Knowledge gained can directly benefit the efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory monitoring and enforcement and, with that, contribute to welfare benefits that are achieved by the prevention of corporate harm doing.

How do informal caregivers survive? A study on care networks and wellbeing among Dutch care recipients, their partners and children.
prof. dr. M.I. Broese van Groenou (VU)

The fact that more and more older adults need informal care puts a lot of pressure on their partners and children. A solution would be to share the care in a care network with informal and professional caregivers. FAMCARE examines under which individual, family and societal conditions 1) different care network types arise, and 2) care networks contribute to the wellbeing of care recipients, partners and children. FAMCARE uses unique data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA, 1992-2022) and replicates the 2001 multi-actor study among partners and children of LASA-respondents to compare 1) and 2) over time.

Getting consumers to switch to sustainable and healthier food.
prof. dr. ir. B.J.J.A.M. Bronnenberg PhD (UvT)

This research seeks to understand what makes consumers buy sustainable and healthy food options. It empirically studies grocery purchases of individual consumers over the past 2 decades, during which many of such food options were introduced. The research program will disentangle three forces on the formation of food preferences: (1) personal characteristics, (2) consumption history, and (3) marketing by retailers and manufacturers. It will empirically test to what extent preferences are formed or intrinsically present, and whether the marketing strategies of firms affect long-term preferences. These findings will next be used to propose policy to stimulate sustainable food choices.

Digital warfare in the Sahel: Fulani popular networks of war and Cultural Violence
prof. dr. M.E. de Bruijn (LEI)

Violent conflict is on the increase in the Sahel since 2012, coinciding with the increased use of social media in the region. The organisation of networks and their information flows are changing, and this project studies the conflict as a digitally and physically networked one. Cultural violence—the legitimation of violence—spreads through (trans)regional networks, and discursive and ‘real’ warfare become entangled. This interdisciplinary project focuses on (trans)regional Fulani networks, combining historical-ethnographic and computational methods to understand the ‘workings’ of networked conflict. The project warns of possible increases in ethnic violence, resulting from digital media uses.

Fighting fake news and stereotype
prof. dr. B.P. de Bruin (RUG)

Fake news, COVID-19 myths on social media, climate change denial in parliament, sexist stereotypes in business – irrational and sometimes outright false beliefs have become an unmistakable societal concern. We develop theory and practical tools to counter fake news and prejudice in individuals and organizations. In this project, philosophers collaborate with social scientists, policy makers, and the private and non-profit sector.

ELDER: Life-Event Longitudinal Description and Explanation Research
prof. dr. J.J.A. Denissen (UU)

Negative life events, like becoming unemployed, can reduce well-being (e.g., increasing depression, loneliness). But when do such effects occur, and does this differ between people with different personalities or cultures? The Life-Event Longitudinal Description and Explanation Research (ELDER) project develops better methods to describe how effects of life events unfold. And it will measure key psychological processes and individual differences and investigate how the effects of negative life events differ between cultures. With this knowledge, people can gain insight in how to better cope with negative life events in their own lives or that of their clients.

On the representation of quantity: how our brains shape language
prof. dr. J.S. Doetjes (LEI)

Quantity expressions in languages of the world show remarkable similarities that cannot be explained by descent from common ancestors. Are these similarities due to properties of human cognition? This project investigates properties of quantity expressions across languages in the light of what we know about the mental representation of quantity, thus aiming at gaining insight in how our brains shape language.

Now or never: Discovering the psychology of communicating tipping points for social change
dr. K. Epstude (RUG), prof. dr. M. van Zomeren (RUG)

Can social change be facilitated by communicating tipping points (e.g., it’s “now or never”)? This project answers this scientifically and societally relevant question through testing a novel social-psychological model. We combine interviews, experimental studies, and an interactive simulated society paradigm to empirically evaluate the motivating power of communicating tipping points and its social spread through group-based interaction. Moreover, based on our findings, we develop and test a proof-of-concept for an intervention to foster social change. As such, the project will develop a more comprehensive understanding of how communicating tipping points facilitates social change to solve important societal challenges.

The Language Leak
dr. S.L. Frank (RU)

People who speak multiple languages do not have a “fire wall” in their brain to keep the languages apart: knowledge of one language affects use of the other. The researchers will develop a precise, mathematical description of this “language leak” by having a computer simulate its causes and its consequences.

Digitizing mom and pop’s supply chain: competitiveness of independent retailers at the bottom of the pyramid
prof. J. Fransoo (UvT)

Low-income consumers at the base of the global pyramid paradoxically often pay more for their daily groceries than middle-income consumers in the same countries. Much of this paradox is due to the high fragmentation of the retail channel where they buy their goods, leading to high supply chain cost. Smartphone-based technologies can close this gap, reduce the cost of living for these low-income consumers, and continue to provide a livelihood to the millions of shopkeepers that serve them. Using granular transactional data of delivery vehicles, sales agents, and replenishment orders, the researchers study the impact of this rapid digitization.

‘Provinzentjudung’: Local Dynamics and the Holocaust in the Netherlands (1925-1950)
dr. G.G. von Frijtag Drabbe Künzel (UU), dr. D.G. Hondius (VU)

Over a third of the approximately 104,000 deported Dutch Jews came from small towns and villages. Despite a growing number of local studies, there is little systematic insight into the impact of local factors and actors on the persecution. This research follows the international trend to view the persecution of Jews not only as a centrally led, but also as a locally embedded process. At the same time, this study of the 'Provinzentjudung' in the Netherlands transcends the local perspective by taking a comparative approach and by examining the impact of intermunicipal connections on local dynamics of persecution and aid.

Getting to the CoRe: a Communicative Receptive approach to language learning and mutual understanding in multilingual academic contexts
prof. dr. H.C.J. de Graaff (UU)

The language barrier in Dutch can hold internationals back from participation in meetings of participatory bodies when Dutch is the main language of administration in the Netherlands. Receptive multilingualism might offer solutions for diverse language situations, as many internationals do not need to develop advanced proficiency in productive (spoken and written) Dutch to communicate effectively. They can develop receptive proficiency in Dutch and use their productive proficiency in English. This study aims to explore to what extent a receptive approach in foreign language use can improve the communicative effectiveness in receptive multilingual settings to create a more inclusive international environment.

Love, sex, faith. The politics of emotion in migration law
prof. mr. dr. B. de Hart (VU)

How to decide whether a person is truly gay or believes in Jesus, or whether a couple is genuinely in love? How can one objectively determine such a subjective issue as human emotions? This is the dilemma that those involved in immigration procedures (immigration officers, judges, lawyers, NGOs and migrants) face on a daily basis. This socio-legal project takes together family migration and asylum cases: suspected marriages of convenience, and asylum claims based on sexual orientation and religious conversion to explore how the politics of emotion functions as an instrument of inclusion and exclusion in migration control.

A resilient European Union? European economic reforms meet politicisation
prof. dr. M. Haverland (EUR)

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the EU hard, also economically. Some member states have been hit harder than others, however, threatening the stability of the EU. In response, the EU has made a massive budget available for investments, linked to implementing domestic reforms long requested by the EU. Will the EU's additional resources make a difference? Does the political game change because pro-reform players are empowered? Are they taking up the gauntlet energetically, by cleverly framing reforms and thereby breaking resistance, or are Eurosceptic forces holding them back? This will be investigated for Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

Philanthropic Foundations and Global Justice
dr. A. Kalfagianni (UU)

Private philanthropic foundations increasingly shape what global justice means and how it should be implemented. This deserves scrutiny because philanthropy, beyond an act of giving, is an exercise of power. This project provides critical knowledge on how diverse foundations shape global justice and with what consequences for sustainability policies worldwide.

The emotional dynamics of norm-violating behavior
prof. dr. G.A. van Kleef (UvA)

Adherence to norms is crucial for healthy societies. Still, norm violations are all around. People jump queues, commit fraud, vandalize property, and engage in sexual harassment. Moreover, such behaviors can spread to become systemic problems. To understand when this happens and what can be done about it, we need to understand how observers respond to violators. Do they oppose them, turn a blind eye, or even support them? I will investigate observers’ emotional and behavioral responses to violations to uncover when norm violations spread and when they are contained. Insights can be used to more effectively manage (counter)normative behavior.

Double robust inference for structural economic models
prof. dr. F.R. Kleibergen (UvA)

The empirics of structural economic models is often such that they are so-called weakly identified and/or misspecified. There are, however, currently no statistical methods available that remain reliable for such settings. The "Double robust inference for structural economic models" project therefore aims to develop: (i) double robust inference methods that remain reliable under both settings and which can readily be applied by practitioners for a wide range of commonly used structural economic models; and (ii) novel econometric toolkits for easy usage, enabling practitioners to use double robust inference methods for their research questions.

The growing pains of increasing team diversity
prof. dr. D.L. van Knippenberg (EUR)

Research points to the benefits of team diversity, but does not speak to what it means for team functioning when team diversity changes. We study changes in team functional and cultural diversity, and outline how diversity change, and diversity increase in particular, requires careful management not to let team functioning suffer from “growing pains”.

Learning from your errors: the development of word production in young children
prof. dr. C.C. Levelt (LEI), prof. dr. J.P.M. Fikkert (RU)

Young children will often say ‘“tuck” when referring to the word ‘truck’. Is “tuck” a speech error or does it result from flawed articulation? They could also have stored the word ‘truck’ as ‘tuck’ in their mental dictionary, due to incomplete perception or storage of all the sounds. Learning to speak involves the simultaneous acquisition of knowledge at several different levels and practice with applying this knowledge swiftly and smoothly when required. Errors are bound to arise in the immature system, but they also highlight what needs to be updated to the learner. This learning process will be charted.

Cascading transitions in multistable perception and cognition
prof. dr. H.L.J. van der Maas (UvA)

Sudden transitions can spread within and across systems. Those who come to believe in conspiracies undergo such a transition but this is rarely limited to one person. Addiction is another example. Within a person, cascading transitions occur in multi-stable perception and cognition (logical paradoxes). To develop the general model of 'cascading transitions', we test this mathematical model for these two tractable cases. For this purpose, we develop innovative experimental designs and use recently developed psychophysiological measurement methods.

Preventing Miscarriages of Justice
prof. dr. A.R. Mackor (RUG), prof. dr. D.A. Lagnado (UCL), prof. dr. C. Dahlman (LundU)

Over the last 20 years, miscarriages of justice, such as Lucia de Berk (the Netherlands), Sally Clark (United Kingdom) and Thomas Quick (Sweden), have led to social and scientific debate on how to prevent errors in the judicial evaluation of evidence. Preventing Miscarriages of Justice will investigate how judges can evaluate evidence more rationally by 1. integrating the two main theoretical approaches to evidence evaluation; 2. developing, on this basis, an integrated method that will enable judges to reason more rationally about evidence in criminal cases; and 3. empirically testing the efficacy of the method.

Facing the Border: The Itineraries of Tunisian Visa Applicants for the Schengen Area
prof. dr. A.A. M'charek (UvA)

Emigration from North Africa to Europe is often seen through the lens of crisis and catastrophe, neglecting the growing number of individuals who enter or attempt to enter Europe through legal channels. Facing the Border is an ethnographic study of the bureaucratic procedures of visa applications in Tunisia for the Schengen Area. Through its focus on everyday bureaucratic practices, the project will contribute to the scholarship on migration and the anthropology of bureaucracy with novel insights on the externalisation of Europe’s borders and how the border is folded into mundane bureaucratic practices.

Our brain during everyday activities
prof. dr. W.P. Medendorp (RU), prof. dr. T.M. Heskes (RU), dr. N.L.W. Keijsers (RU)

Neuroscientific findings about the perception-action cycle obtained from impoverished lab environments cannot readily be transferred to real-life situations, such as at home, in traffic or in sports. This project uses virtual reality and wearable technology, and methods from data science and artificial intelligence, to connect laboratory findings with individual behaviour in the real world and to utilize the new Neuroscience knowledge for clinical practice.

Understanding reading comprehension
prof. dr. M. Meeter (VU), dr. M. van der Schoot (VU)

Reading comprehension is a crucial skill that is highly predictive of later success in education. Unfortunately, more and more students seem to be insufficiently apt at comprehension. Here, we create a comprehensive model of reading from recognizing letters up to understanding the sense of a sentence. With this model, we scrutinize how comprehension affects eye movements in reading, and how it is reflected in brain signals. We also model the different ways in which comprehension of a text can fail. The project results in more understanding of reading comprehension, and clues to how it can be improved in students.

Church and Slavery in the Dutch Empire: History, Theology and Heritage
prof. dr. A.B. Merz (PThU), prof. dr. G. Harinck (VU)

In this research project we study the role of the Reformed Church in the Dutch colonial past. We look at the theological and exegetical arguments put forward by church and academic theologians to defend or criticise slavery and at the concrete financial, social and administrative role of the church in slavery and the slave trade (missionary, pastoral, the church as slave owner, investor, gatekeeper). Multiple perspectives are included (enslaved people, former slaves, indigenous people, mixed groups and white colonizers) and attention is paid to the legacy of slavery in today's churches and society.

Not too many, not too few: calculating sample sizes for testing informative hypotheses.
dr. ir. M. Moerbeek (UU)

There are several methods for testing hypotheses in social, behavioral and biomedical research. The Bayesian method allows expectations and prior knowledge to be used to formulate and weigh multiple hypotheses against each other based on empirical data. This method is increasingly used but little is known about required sample sizes. This project designs methods for sample size calculations and related software when the data have a multilevel structure, such as students in schools. The results of this project will enable empirical research to be designed in a cost-effective manner.

Clean: an inquiry into co-existing values-in-tension
prof. dr. A. Mol (UvA)

When people clean their bodies, clothes, or kitchens, they dirty the water. Wastewater treatment plants are able to reclaim organic materials from the sewage, but leave micropollutants to flow out into rivers and oceans. Such complexities form the starting point of this research. How are different variants of ‘clean’ currently being served, neglected or undermined in households and in wastewater treatment plants in the Netherlands? What helps and what hinders attempts to care for different variants of ‘clean’ at the same time? As we pursue these questions, we aim to draw lessons for both cleaning practices and valuation theory.

Child separation: Politics and practices of children’s upbringing by faith‐based organisations in (post)colonial Indonesia (1808‐1984)
prof. dr. M.E. Monteiro (RU), prof. dr. G.A. Mak (NL‐Lab; Huygens ING)

Not only in Australia and Canada, but also in the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia, groups of children were separated from their parent(s) to be fostered, adopted or raised in faith‐based children’s homes. This project analyses the entanglement of these practices with colonial and national politics, and traces the voices and perspectives of affected children and their descendants. The output will include a digital map of children’s homes, which will help former pupils and their relatives to trace fractured family lines. In addition, reconstructions of life stories will bring institutional records into conversation with personal memories and family archives.

Migration and Innovation: an historical perspective
dr. A. Morrison (UU)

Between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century the US received more than 30 million immigrants who were escaping poverty and persecution at home. Although the vast majority was made by unskilled workers, many were or became inventors. During this period of time the US became the world industrial and technological leader. Is there a link between the massive inflows of diverse ideas and experiences immigrants brought to the US and its rise as global technological leader? This project will answer this compelling question.

Gender ratio and power dynamics in mixed-gender teams: Implications for gender inequality in organizations
prof. dr. B.A. Nijstad (RUG), prof. dr. M. van Vugt (VU)

To increase the influence of women in the top of their organizations, many countries, including the Netherlands, have introduced gender quota. However, we do not really know how changes in gender ratio (the number of women versus men) affect the relative influence of women in decision making bodies. We examine this question from a new perspective assuming that individuals (men and women) acquire influence in a dynamic way by claiming and granting it. We also investigate how these dynamic processes eventually affect the opportunities of women versus men for promotion within organizations.

At Home Otherwise: Rethinking Heritage through Diversity
prof. dr. P.J. Pels (LEI)

Despite research into minoritized groups’ homes, and attempts to diversify heritage policies and practices, many initiatives remain stuck on ‘us’/’them’ oppositions governing authorized heritage discourses and its forms of exclusion. But ‘home’ cannot be reduced to such an opposition: we remember earlier homes and travelling away from them; we make ‘home’ where we are with those memories, but also with future wishes en desires; and under conditions shaped by others. Looking at heritage through this more complex lens, we ask how it may help reforming and democratizing authorized heritage-talk and its associated practices.

Virtual Reality as Empathy Machine: Media, Migration and the Humanitarian Predicament
prof. dr. S. Ponzanesi (UU)

VR has been postulated as the ultimate ‘empathy machine’ that allows someone to transcend the confines of their own body and see things from another character’s point of view. For this reason, it has increasingly been used for humanitarian appeals to bridge the gap between ‘spectator’ and ‘distant sufferer’, with the aim of soliciting donations and enhancing public engagement. This project analyses the potentialities and desirability of VR for humanitarian appeals by combining media analysis and empirical research with a postcolonial framework. It aims to envision alternative, collaborative and participatory approaches and designs.

How background uncertainty affects prosocial behavioral
prof. dr. A.M. Riedl (UM)

The Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, mass migration, flexible labour markets and uncertain pension payments are all examples of increased background uncertainty, that is, uncertainty beyond individual control. This project investigates at the behavioral and brain level how background uncertainty affects social preferences, that is, how much one takes into account the well being of others, and social norm compliance, that is, how motivated one is to voluntarily follow a behavioral rule that is personally costly. Understanding the effect is important because erosion of either social preferences or social norm compliance can have negative societal effects through decreased solidarity among citizens.

Can you touch red? Cross-modal 'translation' of visual features into tactile surface properties.
dr. R. Rouw (UvA)

Can you touch 'red'? Is it smooth, wet, or sticky? We study an extraordinary condition called touch-colour synesthesia, where touching a particular (e.g., 'soft') surface, evokes a particular colour (e.g., 'white-yellow'). Remarkably, non-synesthetes have similar touch-to-colour associations, but without being aware of it. We test the hypothesis that such associations are 'innate', in blind individuals. The project addresses scientific questions on sensory information processes in the brain, and has societal implications; an open-access 'translator' from physical surface properties, to tactile experiences, to colour associations. We examine applications of this knowledge as translated colours, and 'visual' art, for the blind.

The dynamics of inequality
prof. A.G. Sanfey (RU)

How do our perceptions of inequality impact how we decide, both for ourselves and towards others? This project investigates the mechanisms by which social inequality influences decision-making. Innovative behavioural and brain imaging experiments are combined with computational modelling to build a detailed understanding of how decision-making is affected by inequality.

Sustainability trade-offs in the Netherlands’ entangled modernisation, 1900-2020.
prof. dr. J.P.H. Smits (TUE), prof. dr. J.W. Schot (UU)

The Netherlands has Europe´s worst performance in foreign sustainability trade-offs to least developed countries. The huge Dutch imports of raw materials and goods have had profound consequences for economic, social, and ecological developments elsewhere on the planet. These trade-offs have historical origins. From the nineteenth century onwards, scientific knowledge, colonial developments and industrial modernization contributed to the development of transnational production chains. These connected the Netherlands with the rest of the world. This historical study analyses the developments in edible oils and metals, thus providing perspectives for contemporary initiatives in protein and energy transitions.

The Facing Srebrenica Project
dr. G.J.A. Snel (UvA)

From January 1994 until July 1995, Dutch UN soldiers made a large number of private photos during the siege of Srebrenica. These photos show life in the enclave, and many of them contain images of people who were killed in the genocide in July 1995. This project will archive and open up this visual heritage for future generations, in close collaboration with survivors and veterans in Bosnia, the Netherlands and Europe. Drawing on the photos, the project will develop an inclusive history of Srebrenica, also for commemoration purposes.

Displaced and disheartened – helping refugees take back control of their lives
prof. dr. D.P. van Soest (UvT)

One of the main goals of humanitarian aid is to help refugees regain control of their own lives as quickly as possible. This is challenging because trauma, poverty, and stress lower ambitions as well as the ability to implement intended plans. Using an experiment in Ugandan refugee camps, this research investigates how to best increase the effectiveness of financial support in promoting long-term self-reliance.

New light on old remedies. Tracing medicinal plant use in the Low Countries through archaeogenomics and archaeobotany in the late medieval and early modern period (AD 1500-1800).
prof. dr. J. Symonds (UvA), dr. B. Gravendeel (RU)

This project will study changes in medicinal plant use in the Netherlands Low Countries in the early modern period. The project will develop a new methodology that integrates innovative methods from the digital humanities with state-of-the-art scientific techniques to generate datasets that combine information from historical sources, archaeology, and archaeogenomics. This approach will enable us to formulate new ways of combining information on medicinal plants and health from large but fragmented sets of archival and archaeological data. Our aim is to rediscover the lost or overlooked knowledge of medicinal plant use that is contained within archives and the archaeological record.

Learning to direct attention in space and time
prof. dr. J.L. Theeuwes (VU), dr. S.A. Los (VU)

Without much awareness, we learn and pick up on the statistical regularities present in our environment. In each environment, particular objects appear at particular locations, at particular moments in time. We learn these regularities, and attentional selection priorities are adapted and optimally tuned to these implicit expectations. That is why for example we are able to cross a busy road or are able to return a tennis ball. This project seeks to find out how we learn to attend to particular locations at particular moments in time.

What is normal? Accurate norming norms and its use for psychological tests
prof. dr. M.E. Timmerman (RUG), prof. dr. C.J. Albers (RUG)

Psychological tests, as intelligence tests, are widely used, like for diagnosis and selection. Test administrations are interpreted using test norms. Currently, norms are less accurate than possible, creating norms requires more effort than necessary, and the interpretation of norms by end users is often hampered by insufficiently available information. We develop advanced norming methods that make (1) scoring tests, (2) designing a normative study, and (3) interpreting test results more precise and simpler than is possible now. This makes the development, maintenance and use of high-quality psychological tests easier and cheaper, which greatly benefits test practice.

Hear Hear! Promoting the participation of children in the context of their parents’ divorce
dr. I.E. van der Valk (UU), prof. dr. M. Dekovic (UU)

Following parental separation or divorce, children’s voices and their legal right to participate are currently insufficiently guaranteed in families, during mediation, and in courts. There is a lack of scientific knowledge on how best to give effect to child participation. This study investigates whether children's participation in divorce-related decisions increases their sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence, and thus improves their general functioning. In addition, possible risks of child participation to their adjustment are examined, as well as individual differences in this regard. The research will result in practical guidelines and tools to improve the participation of children around divorce.

Apocalypse and Climate Change
prof. dr. C. Vander Stichele (UvT)

This project focuses on present-day religious vocabularies that have become part of our western cultural and scientific reservoir and are used in the context of climate change. It aims to analyse how these vocabularies affect their user’s interpretations and attitudes. The presence of such vocabularies is researched within groups that are active on social media in The Netherlands and share a common interest in climate change. Its central question is: How do religious vocabularies impact climate change discourse, understood as the way in which climate change is presented, interpreted, and discussed across modern audio-visual media in the Netherlands?

Compensation as Punishment
prof. mr. dr. W.J. Veraart (VU)

Is the compensation order that can be imposed in criminal proceedings in the Netherlands a reparatory or a punitive sanction? Although the compensation order is treated by lawyers as a non-punitive measure, both victims and perpetrators sometimes seem to experience it as a form of punishment. This project aims to explore this question further, by comparing with England and France, where the compensation order is understood differently, and by examining how the compensation order is perceived by victims, convicted offenders and the general public. What does it mean for criminal law if the compensation measure is regarded as punishment?

SOY STORIES: Connected sustainability histories and futures of the global Soyacene
prof. dr. ir. E.B.A. van der Vleuten (TUE), prof. dr. J.E.W. Broerse (VU)

Since the 1970s, the large-scale production of soy in Brazil and soy-based intensive animal farming in the Netherlands have resulted in a wide variety of sustainability challenges, such as large-scale deforestation, land-grabbing and child labour in Brazil and a long-term national nitrogen-crisis, public health problems and animal suffering in the Netherlands. SOY STORIES investigates the histories of these diverse sustainability challenges, and studies how they were connected in the past. In addition, SOY STORIES investigates how such historical knowledge may contribute to the development of more inclusive and connected sustainable future imaginaries.

Preventing ecological tipping in drylands
dr. ir. F.O.O. Wagener (UvA), dr. ir. F. van Langevelde (WUR)

Many pastoral communities depend on drylands, together with their livestock, but these areas are highly susceptible for droughts and overgrazing. Drylands are characterized by several ecological tipping points that can cause land degradation. We will study decisions of pastoral communities about the number of livestock, grazing time and fire frequency to prevent the grazing systems to collapse. This will be done by investigating (1) how socially optimal policies affect these tipping points, (2) the effects of absence of cooperation between different pastoral communities, and (3) how stable coalitions can prevent collapse.

Party-Political Contestation of the Liberal International Order
prof. dr. W.M. Wagner (VU)

Free movement of goods and people, rule-based cooperation, and military interventions to protect and promote liberal values abroad are the three pillars of the liberal international order (LIO). The withdrawal of Western military forces from Afghanistan and the growing pressure on governments to defend sovereignty against international institutions show that this liberal order is in crisis. This project studies the patterns of political parties' support for and opposition against the three pillars of the LIO in various regions of the world in order to understand better what is driving the crisis of the LIO.

How humans see surfaces: Filling-in gaps of knowledge using high resolution functional magnetic resonance (HR-fMRI) imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
prof. dr. P.H.M. de Weerd (UM)

Imagine you would only see object and surface boundaries, and nothing in-between. You won’t be able to see where to place your feet while walking, or grasp objects. Hence, functional visual perception requires perceiving edges as well as filling in the surface in-between. Yet, little is known about how the human brain fills in surfaces. This project combines ultra-high field fMRI and non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS) to investigate the role of feedback influences from higher brain centers on the representation of surface information in lower-level visual cortical areas.

Experiencing Fragments
prof. dr. A.B. Wessels (LEI)

Fragments are fascinating because they invite re-construction. Yet, for the same reason they are dangerous: it seems impossible to start a reconstruction without applying certain biases. Understanding how humans interpret fragments requires a multi-pronged approach, that incorporates insights on the historical, aesthetic, experiential and technical fronts.

This project will create an online platform for the fragments of early Roman tragedy, and develop digital tools for researching and experimenting with this textually fragmented material. We shall explore how fragments have been experienced in the past and show how these experiences can support students by training them in bias awareness.

Do you look me in the eye when I am talking to you? Effects of age and social anxiety
prof. dr. P.M. Westenberg (LEI)

Social anxiety concerns negative evaluation and rejection by others. Socially anxious adults avoid eye-contact, which may inadvertently maintain or aggravate their anxiety. Little is known about (avoidance of) eye-contact in childhood and adolescence. We will compare eye-contact between children and adolescents with and without social anxiety problems to clarify both normal development of eye-contact and what goes wrong in socially anxious youth. In addition to the total duration of eye-contact, we will compare specific gaze patterns, such as to what extent (non) socially anxious children and adolescents follow implicit rules relating gaze behavior to turn-taking in a conversation.

Forgotten Lineages. Afterlives of Dutch Slavery in the Indian Ocean World
prof. dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe (LEI)

This research project explores the paths through which generations of the formally enslaved and their descendants gradually forgot their past of enslavement under Dutch and British imperial rule and became local subjects. Its central question is why and how forgetting rather than memory became the basis of belonging and selfhood. This project is a rooted study of the hidden afterlives of Dutch slavery in these Indian Ocean territories across generations, in which processes of identity, group and community formation became entangled with forgotten slave ancestries under layered colonialism.

The FLY (Food-related Lifestyles in Youth) - project: How young people come to adopt more sustainable diets
prof. dr. J.B.F. de Wit (UU), prof. dr. E. Müller (UU)

Youth play a crucial role in the societal transition to more sustainable diets. In the FLY-project, we study what youth - in particular those belonging to lower socio-economic groups - think about eating sustainably, and their perceived barriers and facilitators for transitioning towards a more sustainable diet. In high schools, we discuss these issues with young people and investigate (changes in) their diets over time as well as potential underlying mechanisms. Together with youth, we co-create and test intervention strategies that can support youth in the transition to more sustainable diets, with a focus on the role of group processes.

States in Shock: The Adaptive Capacities of State Administrations to Transboundary Crises
prof. dr. A.K. Yesilkagit (LEI), dr. P. Bezes (CNRS), dr. S.L. Kuipers (LEI)

In the last twenty to thirty years, national states have experienced existential and transboundary crises and shocks. The way in which states have dealt with these shocks is far from ideal. In this project, we examine how the governance systems of national states respond to transboundary crises and whether governments are able to adapt them to better absorb future shocks.

Neanderthals and “us”: how the golden age of Neanderthal research challenges human self-understanding
prof. dr. H.A.E. Zwart (EUR)

Our image of Neanderthals is changing rapidly, and this affects long-standing views about ourselves. Increasingly, Neanderthals are regarded as capable of allegedly unique human practices (language, music, symbolism), and therefore as humans, people like us. Although the scientific image of Neanderthals has dramatically shifted, research still tends to focus on anatomical, genetic, psychic and cultural differences (“them” vs. “us”). Our project combines insights from Palaeolithic archaeology, philosophy, and gender studies to analyse how transitions in Neanderthal research challenge our self-understanding, reopening the question: what makes us human?