Research Priority / Grand Challenge / Important Question
proposed byCategoryComment 1Comment 2Comment 3Comment 4Comment 5
How can we prevent science from being used as a political tool?Iyad Rahwanreducing ill-doingScience has a lot of credibility in the public eye. But it can be used selectively by people from both sides of the political spectrum to justify their policies. Keeping science independent ensures its continued credibility in the long-term.I think science affects politics and vice versa so I am not sure if these disciplines can ever be independent of each other. Though I understant, the fundamental thought of this question suggesting to avoid misusing science for political agendas, this issue can't be easily tamed unless we introduce policy level changes or systemic interventions
How can we help people see a balanced image of human progress and remaining problems?Iyad Rahwanreducing ill-doingMany objective economic and social indicators show that humanity has made enormous progress in reducing major problems, such as poverty, hunger, violence, warfare, etc. Yet, the average person continues to believe that things are getting worse, driven by a combination of psychological biases and a media focused on alarmist headlines.
How can we cultivate virtue, character, and personal responsibility in a digital world.Iyad Rahwanpersonal growthWe are under assault from connected and smart devices (e.g. smartphones) that always try to tempt us to consume more, and to be glued to our devices. We often discuss top-down regulation of information technology as the solution. But perhaps there is also a bottom-up approach based on personal responsibility and the cultivation of personal virtue and character, in order to inculcate individuals.This is a very relevant question considering the current digitization in our lives. The Zoom life is a challenge for everyone considering the impersonal touch, lack of control, impinging upon other person's space due to lack of good privacy rules. In order to cultivate virtue, character, and personal responsibility in the digital world, I think it is essential to first put in place some principles that each individual abides by while using the digital world.
How can we get people to give more effectively?Lucius Caviolawell-doingIn the US alone people donate over $500 billion, only very small fraction of which goes to highly effective charitiesSecond this (Neela Saldanha)
I (David Reinstein) am also interested in this and working in this area, and trying to bring together the state of knowledge HERE (with a particular empirical focus). I'm also particularly interested in 'how do people respond to information about effectiveness', tied to a project I'm putting together HERE
READI also have some work on this and I am interested in the area (Peter Slattery)
How can we make people care more about future generations?Lucius Caviolawell-doingIf humanity doesn't go extinct soon, most people that will ever live live in the future. Therefore, most of the value lies in the future.I am very interested in this (Peter Slattery). Also very neglected and an area that is absolutely critical.
How do people respond to information about "per-dollar-effectiveness" of interventions in making charitable and public/community decisions?David Reinstein well-doingTo get people and voters/governments to "use their generosity effectively" and choose more efficient interventions and charities ... we need to know how (and when) to best present this information about effectiveness.
Reinstein: Tied to a project I'm putting together HERE, with always room for more.
Connects to "How can we get people to give more effectively?"
Develop interventions that increase the adaptive problem solving skills of at least 10% of adults by at least one level on the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (OECD, 2020).Falk Liederpersonal growthProblem solving is an essential life skill that is highly neglected by the current educational system.
Develop valid and reliable measures of an individual’s intentional, unintentional, and total well-doing that quantifies the cumulative effects of their actions on the long-term well-being of humanity.Falk Lieder and Mike Prenticewell-doingBeing able to measure well-doing is a foundational requirement for being able to develop and evaluate interventions that promote well-doing.
Develop interventions that reduce the prevalence of psychological and physical abuse of children and adolescents perpetrated by their parents and/or other children and adolescents by at least 20% over a period of at least 3 months within a community of at least 300 people compared to an equivalent active control group.Falk Lieder and Emily Corwin-Rennerreducing ill-doingThe psychological abuse of children is neglected problem that is a major source of suffering, stunted growth, and later ill-doing.
What are the triggers to empower people to flourish ? How can we build a society culture of human flourishing ?Michael Zappalàwell-doingEmpower people in their flourishing can contribute to the developement of well-being in the whole society
How to bring (more) positive psychology in the educational system ? What are the actual obstacles ?Michael Zappalàwell-doingOur research gets read by fellow academics, but how can we reach our students?Also how to measure performance in education including intra/interpersonal skills (and not only mathematics, science, and reading like PISA)
How can we make people care more about existential and catastrophic risks?Maximilian Maierwell-doingExperts believe the overall risk of human extinction in the 21st-century is about 1/6 (the estimate is of course highly uncertain). Although there are many feasible steps to reduce these risks, too little action is taken. This raises the questions of why humans neglect existential risks and what can be done about it. This is also related to "How can we make people care more about future generations?" by Lucius Caviola
Spencer Greenbergwell-doingMany people (most?) already want the world to be better, and would rather people around the world flourish. Yet a relatively small percent act on this desire, and even fewer do so in an effective manner (using e.g., evidence based or well reasoned approaches). Since this desire already exists for many, it is natural to ask how it can be made more motivating and turned into action
How can we help people to identify their nascent pro-environmental and pro-social goals that they are currently NOT acting upon, to increase the priority they place on those goals, and to identify and overcome the obstacles that block pursuit and successful pursuit of those goals?Tim Kasserwell-doingMy sense is that many people have "well-doing" goals that they'd like to pursue, but they just don't pursue them, or they've tried in the past and given up. Rather than trying to convince people to swtich their goals or to pursue a certain set of goals identified by researchers as "best," my sense is that it may be easier and more effective to help people identify the well-doing goals they already have and then really help them "go for it" on those goals. Often the problem is lack of skills, lack of environmental affordances, etc., and so helping people identify and overcome those obstacles can be useful.
How can we (or someone) educate citizens so that they understand the imporance of their behavior (e.g., voting) for the well-being of others, including distant others and future people?aJon BaronotherMany (most?) of the major problems of the world come down to failures of government, including (inadequate) world government. These, in turn, often come down to the behavior of citizens, including voting but also protests, organizing, etc. Yet, if we look at education in "citizenship", everywhere (even when it exists), almost nothing is said about the effects of citizens on the well-being of others. There is room here for a large applied initiative. Much research examines promotion of charitable giving, and an analogous effort should be made here.
Develop a deeper understanding of the process of moralization.Samantha KassirerotherPeoples' moral stances impact the very way they see the world around them. Moral vegans see a piece of steak as a representation of moral torture, whereas meat-eaters who have not moralized animal rights see it as dinner. Moral beliefs have the power to propel great acts of altruism or justify extreme acts of terrorism. In order to promote more altruism and inhibit terrorism, we need to first understand how the process of moralization works, what propells further moralization, and when/why moralization produces "good" or "bad" moral actors.Extended question: How does the process of moralization work (i.e., how do individuals go from seeing a given domain as not relevant to morality to seeing it as a highly morally-relevant domain)? What are the most powerful antecedents to further moralization along different parts of the process? Additionally, why does moralization of a particular domain sometimes promote "bad" acts of ideological terror, and sometimes promotes "good" moral behavior?This qualifies under both "well-doing" and "reducing ill-doing"I think moralization is also part of moral development. As such, it fits the personal growth category.
Develop a better understanding of the psychological lives of people in need (e..g, the extreme poor), and what makes them respond better or worse to opportunities for help.Samantha Kassirerwell-doingThe last-mile problem (i.e., why individuals in need fail to utilize highly impactful, preventitive solutions and cures to their problems) has traditionally been studied by economists, aiming to understand how those in need of help value different types of aid (e.g., free vs. subsidized). However, psychologists have not yet explored how receiving help impacts recipients' psychological responses to the aid opportunity and subsequent willingness to both take and utilize the aid. If we are able to better understand the psychological lives of the people we are trying to help, we may be better able to understand why they sometimes do vs. don't accept/utilize aid and finally bridge this last mile. Extended question: How does the way that we provide aid to individuals in need (i.e., framing, delivery, etc.) and the type of aid we provide impact the aid recipients both psychologically and economically? Specifically, what types of delivery, aid framing, and aid-type negatively vs. positively impact (a) how recipients feel psychologically (e.g., motivation, self-esteem, depression, gratitude, self-efficacy, anticipated social mobility, hope, dependency, etc.), (b) their desire to take-up of the aid opportunity, and (c) their utilization of the aid provided to them? I think social psychology is starting to look into this answer, with considering how framing impacts whether beneficiaries will accept aid from allies, etc., the type of aid. It is in the nascent stage, though!
How can we get people to participate /engage in movements e.g. to reduce inequality, climate change, corruption etcNeela Saldanha reducing ill-doingMany problems, including poverty, are systemic (e..g power imabalance, exploitation, corruption etc). The only way to improve this is through citizens' engagement, but for a variety of reasons, people often prefere individual actions (e.g. handing out bed nets) to more systemic actions (advocating for universal and quality health care). How can we get people to become more engaged and make collective progress?
How do we bolster the effectiveness of rational argumentation for well-doing? How can we persuade people to do well without undermining their decision autonomy?Gabriele Paolacciwell-doingMoral judgment is strongly determined by affective responses. As a result, most interventions to mobilize people’s behavior for the good involve emotional appeals or “nudges” that act upon people’s intuitive thinking and do not engage their deliberative skills. However, these attempts can be ethically questionable (e.g., if they are manipulative and do not respect people’s decision autonomy) and not maximally effective (e.g., because resources are donated towards emotional causes that do not create the largest possible welfare). How can we do well by engaging, rather than dodging, people’s rationality (e.g., using philosophical argumentation)?
How can we encourage an "we're all in this together" mentality such that "no child is left behind" (or person, for that matter). Ken SheldonWe're all cells in the same super-organism that needs to function much better to survive. Better if we realize our common fate.
Unfortunately, I don't find this to be an easy question to answer. It is not clear to me whether jumping in and directly studying effective altruism, altruism, or optimization is the most effective course of action. It might be, but I believe the jury is still out on that. Right now, to me, the most pressing question towards which to devote the most mental energy is the question of what is the most effective role of psychological research in improving life overall, all impacts considered. Alternatives to directly studying effective altruism might be to study the basic processes that lead to morality, value, meaning, or motivation, or the basic processes underlying personality and/or social influence. William FleesonThis comes from someone who has spent the past 10+ years studying morality, so I definitely am not opposed to directly studying these questions.I agree that, alongside encouraging people to help more effectively, we need to be thinking about how to get *more* people to act prosocially (effectively or not). We need to be thinking about the personality / social psychological side of things: How does prosociality become a habit / part of one's identity, and how we can harness the contagious nature of social behavior, including prosociality. I think my own entry a few lines down is somewhat in this spirit. (Michal Miaskiewicz)
Is there a way to empirically model the positive and negative consequences of every possible human action? This is tantamount to using science to chart an empirical version of consequentialism.Drew CartonotherThis would allow people to make more informed decisions and better triage between causes
How can we improve interventions that help people use their cognitive abilities to make themselves happier, less anxious and help them find satisfaction in working towards realistic long-term goals and values.Quentin Huyspersonal growthHow to improve psychotherapy
Why are we not doing more, as individuals and as a society, to reduce the risk of existential disasters? And what can we do to change that?Stefan Schubertwell-doingThere isn't a lot of research on the psychology of existential risk. It would be good if this was launched as a field of research. This field could also include more concrete interventions aimed directly to reduce existential risk (like Daniel Greene's work on norms in biorisk).
What are main reasons that people reject or distort utilitarianism?Stefan Schubertwell-doingThe last few decades have seen quite a lot of research on the psychology of utilitarianism. It's clearly a topic that attracts a lot of interest. Still, much of this research has been focused on relatively specific aspects of utilitarianism, such as trolley problems. It would be good if psychologists could gain a more comprehensive understanding of why utilitarianism isn't more widely endorsed. It would also be good to understand the biases and mistakes that lead people to misapply utilitarianism.Agreed on the importance of this topic. Building a societal consensus around utilitarianism as a moral guide would be enormously helpful in designing effective policy, legal judgment, and legislation. (Don Moore)
How can we make people care (more) about the well-being of others?Michal Miaskiewiczwell-doingWhile in some ways, people in contemporary Western democracies have notably enlarged their "moral circle" (to include, for example, various domestic minorities, far-away strangers, and animals), in other ways we seem to live in an era of unprecedented selfishness and greed. Executives shamelessly act against the common good to pursue even more fantastic wealth. Nominal progressives fight tooth and nail against zoning regulations that would create more affordable housing but might "negatively impact the value" of their homes. Fending off primarily for oneself (especially in the hard-nosed arena of economic interest, rather than the increasingly performative arena of social ideology) seems to have become normalized. Economic disparities have grown. Community engagement has weakened and individualism has become the name of the game.

Yet a single-minded pursuit of personal wealth and comfort is not inevitable. Throughout history, people's selfish tendencies have been tempered by prosocial values, social norms, or the fear of God.

How can we, then, promote the growth of prosocial values / identities in children and adolescents? How can we encourage social norms whereby selfish pursuit of personal success is frowned upon while modesty and other-mindedness are socially rewarded?
Additional comment (Michal Miaskiewicz): I guess my view is darker that the one expressed by Spencer Greenberg and Tim Kasser above. While they reckon many (perhaps most) people already have prosocial goals, and need to be helped or nudged to act on them, I reckon that most people in WEIRD countries don't actually seriously want to sacrifice anything of much value to them to help others. After all, altruistic pleas are so ubiquitous these days, and so easy to act upon, that I wonder if a stated goal to increase other people's welfare that is *not* acted upon, is anything other than a declarative/performative goal.

I hope Spencer and Tim are right and I am wrong. I also agree that helping people who want to help consistently but "don't know how" (whatever their number) is a very worthwhile idea that is more promising than attempting to win the (individual) hearts of die-hard egoists. But I also think Spencer's and Tim's ideas and mine are related in that wider societal values can motivate or demotivate hesitant do-gooders: If the whole culture around tells you: "You need to get that new car / you need to get that even nicer house / you need to land on the Moon to improve your social standing and get social admiration", that will demotivate you from giving or from supporting that re-zoning plan. But if society starts telling you: "You need to live modestly, you need to be helping others, you need to mingle with people of diverse backgrounds to be respected and socially desirable", then these values will gradually become internalized in your identity and you will need less nudging to act in favor of the welfare of others.
This is similar to 31 and 67. I think these proposals touch on a general, important question about how to motivate people to act for the sake of the well-being of others (John Wilcox)
How can we make people more interested in learning and thinking about facts / perspectives that challenge their beliefs?Michal Miaskiewiczpersonal growthMany perspectives on "rationality" / "critical thinking education" etc. emphasize the *skills/tools* for rigorous, rational, or simply, good thinking. But the *disposition(s)* to seek an accurate representation of reality, to acknowledge one's ignorance and fallibility, and to be actively attuned to disconfirming facts and opinions, is equally, and arguably more, important. After all, the *skills* for good thinking are only as good as your motivation to use them.

Hence the questions: What are some factors that are currently preventing people from being more actively open-minded? What could we do to make (especially young) people more habitually open-minded?
Agreed on the enormous potential value here. Seeking the best facts, evidence, and arguments is useful for coming to the truth and establishing a shared understanding on which to build social consensus and constructive political dialog. Its absence promotes moral tribalism and balkanization into partisan extremism. We see its corrosive influence in social media filter bubbles and conspiracy theories all around us. (Don Moore)
How can we get people to be willing to follow model-based decisions ("statistical prediction") when it is good for them, and at the same time get people to be smart enough to deviate from model-based suggestions when necessary?Chris Snijdersreducing ill-doingThat model-based predictions often (though not always) work rather well, and often better than human predictions, is an established fact. However, figuring out when and when not to follow statistical or artificially intelligent predictions is tough. How can we get people to be better calibrated?
How do we make people more concerned towards growing environmental issues and micro influence them to take necessary steps on a personal levelAyush Tankhapersonal growthThere is no planet B as you might have heard a million times. With an ever growing technical community and advancements in technology, the need for better environemnt is often compromised which later comes back to bite us in one form or another . There are major advertisments from large multinational corporations to that influence people into buying their products . We can similarly devise scenarios, campaigns , advertisments which make people more sensitive towards more critical issue like protecting the environment.
Develop an intervention that increases the proportion of young adults who have a prosocial life purpose from 1/3 to 1/2.Falk Liederpersonal growthPrevious research shows that only 1/3 of young adults have a life purpose. Having a prosocial life purpose directs people to intentionally direct and coordinate their goal-setting, goal pursuits, thougths, and behavior towards making a positive difference in the world. Seeking purpose is most common among young adults and teenagers and the choices that they make about their education and career set the course for the rest of their life. This makes young adults and late teenagers an important target group for interventions that foster prosocial purpose in life.
How can we support students in developing core skills beyond classical abilities and aptitudes, in particular metacognition and self-regulated learning? Both are key to successful learning outcomes across the lifespan.Samuel Greiffpersonal growthLearning is something that takes increasinly place in informal contexts and people need to have a certain level of metacognition and self-regulated learning to move around successfull and to tackle problems in professional and private life. It is a core challenge for educational systems to equipt tomorrow's learnrs with these skills.
How do we foster 21st century skills beyond what is classically taught in school (e.g., mathematics, science) including important skills such as problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, creativity? How can we support lifelong learners in taking acive stock of their own set of 21st century skills?Samuel Greiffpersonal growthBoth PISA and PIAAC have shown that the level of 21st century skills is low, even in many developed countries. One reason for this is that school curricula do not directly target these skills. New approaches are needed to hekp people develop their skills beyond specific knowledge and general ability measures.
How can we motivate people to become more moral (i.e., how can we instill goals to change one's trait morality)? And once we have instilled those "change goals", how can we realize that change (e.g., using trait change interventions)?Isabel Thielmannpersonal growthPeople have a pervasive bias to perceive themselves as more moral than justified based on their actions (i.e., self-enhancement of moral character). Thus, they usually don't see a need to change for the better in the moral domain (whereas we usually see goals to change in a socially desirable way for other traits, such as Extraversion or Conscientiousness). One of our recent findings shows that once we make people aware of their self-enhancement in the moral domain (i.e., once we provide participants with feedback about their trait morality), they develop a corresponding goal to change for the better. Such change goals are, in turn, a key prerequisite for actual personality change. If we can motivate people to become more moral, we could use tailored trait change interventions to realize positive change of moral character and, thus, of people's moral behavior in a sustainable way. Might also be categorized as "well-doing", I guess
Which careers provide highest social value and how to increase the quantity of such jobs in contemporary economic environmentMantas Sekmokaswell-doing
Make functional imaging ready as clinical tool - e.g., to diagnose mental illness.Max Korbmacherreducing ill-doingThis could be an addition to the current process of diagnosing and then treating mental illness with the option of making this process more time and cost efficient. This is not only advantageous for the medical system, but clearly also for patients, once sufficiently developed.
How does technology interact with human psychology to create better or worse outcomes across education, well being, etc. Danny OppenheimerotherLike it or not, the tools we use change the way we think. The ubiquity of the internet, social media, digital learning tools, etc. change how we interact with others, engage in higher order cognition, experience emotion, etc. and we as psychologists know so little about the consequences of the tech revolution society is currently experiencing. We're starting to see some of the negative consequences of failure to understand how tech interacts with the mind (e.g. propogation of false information, hate, extremism online).
Reducing conflict, both between individuals and groupsNick ChaterotherConflict is almost always mutually destructive. How can we counter the psychological mechanisms that lead to the belief that conflict is inevitably or preferable.
Mutual benefit not zero sum thinkingNick ChaterotherHow can we encourage people to see the value of enhancing rules, institutions, policies, that operate for mutual benefit; and weaken the narrative of zero-sum thinking in which one person's gain is another's loss.
How to get people to evaluate the arguments and evidence (rather than its source or associated group)Nick ByrdotherHow can we get people to overcome the knee jerk reaction to accept or dismiss policies/ideas based solely on the identity of their source or associaed group (e.g., "policy X is bad because its associated with my political opponents) and instead evaluate the actual merits and demerits of the argument and its corresponding evidence? If we knew how to do this, we may have been able to save lives by redcing unwarranted, identity-based rejections of life-saving public health policies and interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This kind of problem also shows up in high impact contexts like intelligence analysis and legislation. So it overcoming the problem could have dramatic downstream benefits on society.
How cost-effective are school-based interventions for improving rationality and practical ethics?Michael Noetelwell-doingSchools are choke-points for human development. All young people attend schools, usually while they are also developing their own moral and epistimiological frameworks. Schools have been shown to be scaleable, cost-effective methods of knowledge translation for other fields (e.g., physical activity). How well can they be used for direct instruction in rationality? In practical ethics? How well do these interventions translate to benefits for the student (e.g., wellbeing) and society (e.g., ethical behaviour)?
How can we encourage more funding for global happiness and well-being research collaborations?Michal Strahilevitzpersonal growthThis area is under researched and underfunded.
How do we promote more university classes to help students become happier, esp given the higher rates of anxiety and depression with current college students (at least in the US)?Michal Strahilevitzpersonal growthStudents really want and need this, at least in the US. This was true before COVID, but more true now.
How do we improve human judgement about the future? How do we get important people to use these strategies?Michael NoetelotherWhen people are making judgements about how to solve all the problems described above, they need to make predictions about the future. How big of a problem will this become? What interventions would help the most? Innacurate judgements about these kinds of questions would lead to either inaction, waste, or possible even disaster (where poor predictions mean we miss catastrophic problems).Helping people think about uncertainty, probabilities, and probability distributions is probably important here.
How can we develop a catalogue of effective interventions capable to propagate social behaviours that can maximise the upside of moral self-improvement and minimise the downsides of moral self-defence?A. Fabio Bellawell-doingPeople who witness or are exposed to the good deeds of others most of the time react positively, feel uplifted, inspired to better themselves, and often wish to do something good for others; what are the drivers that society can leverage (e.g., media, education, etc.) to maximise the potential individual and societal benefits of this adaptive motive (moral self-improvement)? However, sometimes people react negatively to others' virtue, feeling threatened by anatagonistic moral standards or in their cherished views about their own morality, and so they self-enhance or self-protect, denying the goodness of the action and disparaging the moral agent; what interventions can reduce the maladaptive potential of this defensive response (moral self-defence)? How can we make sure that positive moral behaviour propagates to the benefit of individuals and societies?
Most people do not know where to find reliable information concerning health, and most information on the internet is advertisement or otherwise biased. Yet reliable information exists, including tools such as fact boxes and transparent decision trees. How can we get evidence-based and transparent information to the people so that they can make informed decisions?Gerd Gigerenzerother
Can we create timed personalized treatments to reduce the intention-behavior gap?Daniel J. WilsonotherThe idea is to discover features that can be easily and passively collected (smartphone/watch) that predict high/low intention gap states. A prediction of a transition from a low to high state would trigger a personalized intervention.

In theory this project is value-agnostic (e.g. if you have "bad" intentions), but for a significant proportion of people it is their good intentions (exercise, diet, volunteering, enviornmentally friendly actions) that they have trouble enacting. In other words, we can make large positive individual and societal changes without necessarily tackling the difficult problem of changing/instilling values, but rather by helping people more effectively achieve their current second-order preferences.
What do effective judgement and decision processes look like within an organizational context? How can we make these processes easy to implement and maintain? How can feedback loops be added to the process so that they become self-improving, and expertise can be created and/or identified? (Processes might include things such as superforecasting, noise audits, facilitation of hypothesis generation and falsification, and processes which lead to expertise as defined by Naturalistic Decision Making)Jared PetersonotherProcesses within an organization often fail to stick, or even fail to get off the ground. This problem is even worse for novel processes, such as introducing superforecasting within an organization, which has dozens of issues that make it difficult to implement within an organiztional context (such as work politics, egos, user interface, peverse incentives, the value of information and dishonesty, and time, just to name a few).

Each additional layer of complexity on top of such a hard-to-implement process compounds the issue exponentially, such that adding a self-improvement feedback loop to create (and/or identify) expertise in judgement and decision making within an organizational context is extremely rare. This leads to the wrong (or just unprepared) people getting promoted, and the wrong (or unprepared) people making decisions.

Creating and identifying expertise through properly implemented JDM processes with an organizational context could be high impact. It is generally not neglected, but EAs tend to think about JDM quite differently than your average management consultant, bringing in a more scientific approach, and bringing in insights from Kahneman, Tetlock, Taleb, and other thinkers from the various JDM traditions and school of thoughts.
How do we get humans to eat a more sustainable diet?Max Bazermanreducing ill-doing
all proposals up until here have already been sorted into the sheets for the respective categories
How can we design decision-making settings for sustainability-oriented changes in practices in ways that incorporate people's deeply social interest in social bonding as well as social distinction? (areas:e.g,vegetarian diets, non-fossil-fuel transportation, etc.) Mikael Klintmanreducing ill-doing
How can we avoid/prevent that knowledge-beliefs about risks to health, the environment and social wellbeing become integrated in people's social/cultural/ideological identities? Mikael Klintmanreducing ill-doing
How can we design/structure well-doing decision-making in ways that the primary human interest in social belonging and the secondary human interest in having an accurate understanding of reality & its problems overlap far more than today? Mikael Klintmanwell-doing
What would our problem definitions, analyses, and suggestions for solutions be to problems of ill-doing, and to shortagees of well-doing look like if we, for once, leave out our focus on individual morality and instead focus on how structural/societal arrangements can be improved so that well-doing happens?Mikael Klintmanreducing ill-doingFrom an evolutionary perspective, what matters is that humans are able to adapt to their social and natural environment. This usually means to be socially included, have a good reputation, be in-group loyal, but also to mark distinction from "the others" etc. (to be expanded).
What can science do to help people pursue things that make them truly happy instead of investing a lot of time and effort into things that do not seem to make them as happy as other activities would?Malte Friesepersonal growth
What can (behavioral) science contribute to help people live a climate-friendly life? Malte Friesewell-doingThis pertains in particular to those behaviors that are known to contribute particularly strongly to climate change (e.g., diet, transportation, construction). A particular challenge strikes me to be that only some of the behaviors in question are repeated behaviors that are the typical target of behavioral scientists (diet). Others are rare decisions in individual lives with large impact (e.g., construction). I admit that this is at least as much a structural/political challenge as it is one that relates to individual decisions.
How can we better understand activist movements to enhance collaboration and increase the probability of better long term flourishing?Peter Slatterywell-doingMany influential activist movements exist: feminism, humanism, veganism, animal rights, climate change, and effective altruism. These differ in values, means and ends but most have aims which align or overlap with at least one or two others. If we could better understand activist collectives then we would potentially create more effective collaboration between groups by connecting them around to key values, or similarities. We would also be better placed to persuade activist groups to adopt new values (e.g., concerns about the long term future) that we think would help them to be more impactful.
How do different social movements differ in their moral values?Peter Slatterywell-doingThis is related to, and perhaps subsumed in, the above.
How can we harness information technology to promote more positive behaviour change?Peter Slatterywell-doingI have argued in a recent paper (in review) that Information Systems should focus on Prosocietal Behaviour Change, as information technology has incredible untapped potential. Here are some excerpts of the initial argument:

"many societal problems are underpinned by human behaviour at some level and therefore addressable, to some extent, through changing contributory cognition and behaviours (e.g., Alwan, 2011; Cook et al., 2013). [...]

Behaviour change is driven, in part, by information. Accessing information underpins all basic requirements for behaviour: awareness of opportunity, ability and motivation. Because ICT is a primary conduit and creator of information in modern society (Castells, 2014), it is therefore uniquely relevant for changing the behaviours that underpin societal problems[...]

ICT also has many ever more powerful affordances[....]

Even technology that is not intentionally designed to change behaviour is doing so anyway by affecting people’s opportunities and information and thus nudging them one way or the other (Torning & Oinas-Kukkonen, 2009). Indeed, the influence of ICT on human behaviour is so persistent and pervasive that Tristan Harris, co-founder of The Center for Humane Technology, argues, that “it’s possibly the largest source of influence […] that has ever been created” (Thompson, 2017)."
This is precisely the focus of my startup I consider my site the first behavior based social network that changes behavior through planning, dyad and group relationships and gamification. It's early days but I'm participating here and looking for help. The site is also designed to run research.
How can we improve the conduct and impact of academic research?Peter SlatteryotherSadly academic social science research is both instrumental to current and future flourishing but also incredibly inefficient. Researchers have incentives and barriers that massively impede their ability to provide quick and effective insights to decision makers (e.g., publishing PDFs in narrow areas, in journals after months of inefficient review). David Reinstein has some related comments and ideas here:
How can we improve and accelerate research dissemination? Peter SlatteryotherHow do key decision makers and relevant professions find out/use research, what do they think of the current presentation approach (e.g., long pdfs), what do they prefer and what would they recommend as best practice? Findings could be publicised/used to influence journals and other stakeholders around future research norms.
How can we help researchers to do more impactful research?Peter SlatteryotherFor instance, we could survey researchers who are not doing whatever they think is the most important research in their fields to find out the barriers preventing them from doing that behaviour. Findings could inform future interventions and influence key decisions around academic and funding incentives.
How can we inoculate people against persuasion that is bad for them and bad for others and encourage better resource reallocation?Peter Slatteryreducing ill-doingRealistically, we are in a competition with powerful companies with profit motives who want to sell people the idea that their resources are best spent on cool consumer goods and that their time should be spent resource acquisition even at personal expense. All of this activity is a substitute for more desirable behaviours including donation, and sustainable spending and living. Rather than just try to make people donate 2% of their resources more effectively, or better use 10% of their time to relax, we might instead want to explore if we can convince them that they should allocate resources differently. This could involve making them less susceptible to the types of persuasion that they are exposed to by commercial organisations, increasing their persuasion knowledge and so on. See: |
How can we "de-Westernize" biases in our theories, methods, and approaches to inquiry?David Dalsky otherI am US American-trained social psychologist who was fed up with Western bias in psychology textbooks, so I moved to Japan, where I have spent most of my adult life (17 years) trying to tip the balance. We need a grassroots movement to turn to indegnous theories, methods and approaches in the social sciences to get at the heart of what makes humans tick in terms of well-doing.
How do we protect Artificial Intelligence (e.g. Amazon Alexa) and their rights? for example, people curse to Alexa, hit UPS delivery robot, or sexually abuse AIs. But, don't forget AIs learn from humans, more importantly, they feedback to humans. It's a bidirectional relationship. When your children hear you curse at Alexa, what would the children think or learn from that?Jessie Rui Dureducing ill-doing
How can we best promote relationship flourishing in romantic partners? The science of close relationships is now well established but only recently has the issue of optimal or flourishing relationships been recognized. Frank D. Finchamwell-doingIntimate relationships can greatly enhance well-being but can equally be a source of great pain. Ensuring that the former occurs, is likely to provide a strong foundation for well-doing. My goal is to ensure that LIS does not become too individualistic in its focus.
Can narrative approach be used as a way to minimize and/or eliminate bias in social representations of the past (i.e. collective memories)?
How can we use current theoretical models and practical knowledge from sociocultural psychology in order to mitigate negative effects that come from political polarization of the past?
Miloš Jevtićreducing ill-doingThis is a very interesting thought considering narrative approach is used very frequently and effectively with individuals to help re-author their lives. This approach is definitely effective in dealing with restructuring of individual histories, hence it would be interesting to see if this approach can be conceptualized to also aid in restructing of community histories.
What interventions are most promising for encouraging young people to develop life-long prosocial habits and ways of living?Kristi Leimgruberwell-doingUNDERLYING LOGIC: Developmental research suggests that we start life out as "promiscuous helpers" and become more egocentric over time as we come to incorporate things like reputation, selfish incentives, in-group loyalty, etc. into our cooperative decision-making. Based on what we know about the ways our attitudes about others and the greater good develop over the course of childhood/adolescence/early adulthood, what are the best tools we have to intervene in ways that may incentivize future generations to be more cooperative than previous ones?
How can we mitigate people’s tendency to care disproportionately about their in-group (e.g. race, ideology, nation…) vs out-groups?Tessa
van der Willigen
well-doingPeople tend to identify with groups and exercise more prosocial behavior with regard to this in-group than out-groups. This tendency has its place—it is probably foundational to communities, for instance—but it is also central to racism, political polarization, xenophobia, etc. What interventions, educational or otherwise, might reduce these tendencies without harming community spirit?
How do we help people maintain agency in the face of digital technology’s challenges to their attention and its skill in manipulation?Tessa
van der Willigen
personal growthThe mere affordances of digital tech challenge people’s ability to control their attention—which is crucial to learning and decision-making—and microtargeting gives tech substantial power to nudge people’s behavior. What measures should society take in the areas of education and tech regulation to help people preserve their agency and autonomy in the digital era?
Does increasing feelings of self-worth in marginalised individuals improve pro-social behaviourSusan CarrollWhen low self-worth is present, people are less likely to feel their actions and behaviours can have a positive impact in the world, if self-worth is increased does this lead to individuals becoming more engaged with their environment in a way that has a positive impact
Which competencies are necessary for effective well-doing/atruism/changemaking across all contexts (i.e. domain general) vs. which are specific to a particular domain of well-doing (i.e. domain specific)?John Wilcoxwell-doingDomain-general competencies may include: action and reflection, growth-mindset, time management etc. Domain specific competencies may include, for example, coding skills or competencies in construction etc.
How can we develop educational programs that cultivate both the altruistic motivations and the competencies necessary for well-doing/changemaking?John Wilcoxwell-doingThis is a topic that can be explored by life improvement science in general, but it is also a speicifc focus of the Metachangemakers Project, a sub-research project within the broader life improvement science research program.
Which cognitive/meta-cognitive mechanism underly conscious choices? How do these mechanisms work? And which are effective ways of training them? For example, how can people become better at steeping between stimulus and responses and choose valued congruent actions instead of playing out conditioned reactions?Victoria Amopersonal growthWell- doing and personal growth. Attentional training and metacognitive skills (e.g. decentering) have proven useful for people to be less reactive to thoughts content and emotions. However, it is not clear if and how these mechanisms are necessary for meeting conscious choices—scaffolding the cognitive mechanism of stepping between stimulus and reactions and understanding how they work could be essential for helping people improve themseves, and act in alignment with their values and well-doing intentions.
What are the most widely held misconcpetions that people have that interfere with their own (or others') wellbeing?Izzy Gainsburg
What are (the most) effective interventions that help people expand their moral ciricles to included neglected and distant entities?Izzy Gainsburg
What factors underlie how people choose which causes they prioritize, and what interventions would lead people to "invest" in more impactful causes?Izzy Gainsburg
How can we incentivize scientists and policy-makers to spend their energies working on the most impactful issues and problems?Izzy Gainsburg
What are the best methods for aligning the benefits of helping others with also helping the self? (i.e., moving away from zero sum to shared benefits)Izzy Gainsburg
What are the best methods to improve interpersonal and intergroup communication, such that even when people's values don't align they can at least have a proper understanding of what another person/group is thinking or feeling?Izzy Gainsburg
What interventions are most effective for getting people to take medication?Izzy Gainsburg
How can we make people more accepting of technologies that will improve flourishing (e.g., cogntive enhancements?)Izzy Gainsburg