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Research Priority Area

Polarisation can be a significant barrier to harmonious and productive societies. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences launches a research priority area in 'Polarisation' that will stimulate the interdisciplinary research in this field for a period of five years with an annual budget of 250,000 euros.

Polarisation – the development or existence of a persisting, extreme, multi-modal divide in attitudes, identities, and behaviors – can be a significant impediment to harmonious and productive societies. Newly emergent patterns of polarisation with respect to topics like COVID-19 policies and climate change interlock with existing cultural and political divides and identities, undermining society’s capacity for taking concerted collective action. Polarisation is a complex phenomenon which is linked to processes at all levels of societal life, including, but not limited to, individual cognitive biases, social group dynamics and larger educational, cultural, and political structures. Interdisciplinary research is key to understanding the interdependencies between (de)polarisation processes across these levels and to building a comprehensive understanding of polarisation.

Research Priority Area

The University of Amsterdam’s Faculty for Behavioral and Social Sciences (FMG) has created the Research Priority Area (RPA) Polarisation to facilitate interdisciplinary scientific research on (de)polarisation. Specifically, the RPA fosters interdisciplinary (i.e. cross-department) examination of causes, consequences, mechanisms, and potential interventions targeting (de)polarisation at the cognitive/individual, social/group, and societal levels. To this end, the RPA organises a seed grant programme available to FMG researchers as well as a variety of knowledge exchange events accessible to interested researchers and the wider community.

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  • Seed Funding Programme Overview

    The RPA Polarisation offers a seed funding programme to all researchers at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty for Behavioral and Social Sciences (FMG).

    Seed grants will be made available in two steps:

    1) 2023 Pilot Grants & Matchmaking

    In a set-up phase lasting until the end of 2023, the RPA aims to foster the formation of interdisciplinary teams and support the development of new research lines around polarisation, possibly including initial empirical tests or exploration. Individual researchers or collaborating researchers can apply for the 2023 pilot seed grant round, to start working towards impactful project ideas and broader interdisciplinary collaboration. The RPA provides approximately 10 small pilot grants (max. 5.000 Euros per project) to support this phase. In addition, to foster the formation of interdisciplinary collaborations, the RPA will organise at least one match making event in 2023, where the recipients of the pilot seed grants and other interested parties can present their research ideas to the wider RPA community and find interdisciplinary collaborators to further enrichen their polarisation-related research lines.

    2) 2024 Interdisciplinary Project Grants

    In 2024, larger project grants of approximately 20.000 Euros will be made available for interdisciplinary research on (de)polarisation through a new call for applications. 

  • 2023 Pilot Grant Projects

    The following projects have been awarded a 2023 Seed Grant from the Research Priority Area Polarisation and are currently in progress.

    1. #Vliegschaamte or #Ilovemymeat: Discursive climate change polarisation dynamics on TikTok
      Dr. Melanie de Looper, Dr. Christel van Eck
    2. The effect of polarisation on rule compliance
      Dr. Karlijn Hoyer, Dr. Lukas Molleman
    3. Understanding polarization regarding COVID-19 vaccination with mixture modelling analyses
      Prof. dr. Frenk van Harreveld, Prof. Dr. Han van der Maas, Monique Chambon
    4. Sowing discord: Violence as a tool for electoral mobilization
      Dr. Neeraj Prasad, Dr. Ursula Daxecker
    5. Meaningful polarization or divisionary deadlock? Studying political identity formation among participants in ‘unruly’ street demonstrations
      Dr. Joost Berkhout, Prof. Dr. Femke Kaulingfreks, Dr. Floris Vermeulen
    6. Implicit bias in visualizing the polarized issue of climate change
      Dr. Christel van Eck, Dr. Linda van den Heijkant, Dr. Toni van der Meer
    7. Bovenland: Perceived polarisation and (extreme) non-normative attitudes and behavior
      Dr. Allard Feddes, Dr. Rebekka Kesberg, Dr. Bastiaan Rutjens
    8. Has the rise of small donors increased polarisation?
      Dr. Trevor Incerti
    9. Exploring polarisation during public health crises – a manual content analysis
      Dr. Adriana Solovei, Prof. Dr. Bas van den Putte, Prof. Dr. Julia van Weert
    10. The political benefits of affective polarisation
      Dr. Eric Schliesser, Dr. Eelco Harteveld
    11. Students’ reasoning about possible solutions for social problems
      Dr. Geerte Savenije, Thomas Klijnstra
    12. Conspiracy theories as multimodal drivers of polarisation
      Dr. Jaron Harambam, Dr. Boris Noordenbos, Dr. Kris Ruijgrok
    13. News you don’t believe? Examining factual believe polarisation through annotations
      Dr. Anne Kroon, Zilin Lin, Dr. Susan Vermeer
    14. What drives spiritual science scepticism?
      Dr. Bastiaan Rutjens
    15. Neural mechanisms of polarisation
      Dr. Steven Scholte, Dr. Gijs Schumacher, Dr. Bert Bakker
    16. Polarisation of politics: How do citizens react to public opinion?
      Dr. Myrto Pantazi
    17. Solutions journalism: A constructive response to political polarisation?
      Dr. Andreas Schuck, Dr. Eric Tsetsi
  • 2024 Project Grant Application Procedure

    The RPA Polarisation seeks to facilitate interdisciplinary research on (de)polarisation at the Faculty for Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. To this end, we provide project funding of up to 20.000 Euros per project of up to 2 years. Information on eligibility and application procedure is outlined in the documents below.

    Application Deadline: 1 April 2024 (End of day)

    Call for Applications: ProjectGrant_CFA

    Application Form: ProjectGrant_ApplicationForm

    Applications should be submitted via e-mail to:

More information?

For questions about the RPA Polarisation, please contact: The current board of the RPA Polarisation consists of Drs. Christin Scholz, Marte Otten, and Remmert Daas.