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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has accepted nine proposals from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as part of the Research Talent subsidy programme of the NWO Division of Social Sciences (MaGW).

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has accepted nine proposals from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as part of the Research Talent subsidy programme of the NWO Division of Social Sciences (MaGW). In total, 42 of the 206 proposals submitted were accepted. The Research Talent subsidy programme provides financial assistance to high-level PhD research conducted by young, talented individuals with a demonstrable ambition to pursue an academic career. The subsidy pays for the staff costs incurred by appointing a full-time PhD candidate for three years.

The successful UvA proposals (with the main applicant mentioned)

  • Dr Denny Borsboom (Psychology): Network psychometrics
    Theoretical considerations and empirical evidence point towards a network perspective in which psychological constructs are conceptualized as networks of interacting components (e.g., for major depression: insomnia → fatigue → concentration problems) instead of measurements of a latent construct, as is hypothesized in traditional perspectives. The proposed research develops a psychometric framework for analyzing such networks: 1) translating concepts from network analysis to the psychometric realm, and developing 2) procedures for estimating and fitting network models to data and 3) a new adaptive testing procedure. This work will be implemented in the R-package that the Ph.D. candidate has already developed (Epskamp et al., 2011).
  • Prof. Nico van Eijk (Law): Privacy as Virtue: towards an actor based approach to privacy regulation
    The EU system of fundamental rights protection has strongly developed over the past decades. The EU now has its own catalogue of rights (the Charter of fundamental rights) and will soon accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, much is uncertain as regards the effect of these occurrences and the way in which the Charter and Convention obligations can be aligned. Against this background, the proposed research will explore one highly important, yet still unanswered question: How can the famous „doctrine of positive obligations‟, developed by the European Court of Human Rights, be transposed into EU law, and how can it be reconciled with the specific principles underlying the EU legal order?
  • Prof. Cars Hommes (Economics): Learning to Forecast with Evolutionary Models
    The rational expectations (RE) framework has difficulties to predict how people form expectations in real and experimental markets. Recent literature suggests using explicit learning models of bounded rationality as an alternative. However, there exists no definite theory that could explain all experimental evidence of recent Learning-to-Forecast experiments. In this proposal, we develop and test evolutionary models to explain why in some situations prices converge to the RE outcome and in others they do not. First we focus on Genetic Algorithms to model the behavior of agents who forecast using only simple heuristics. Later, we develop analytical results and a general framework to investigate the performance of the baseline GA model compared to experimental data.
  • Dr Gerben van Kleef (Psychology): Climbing the ladder or falling from grace: How norm violations shape social hierarchies
    Power increases people's proclivity to violate social norms, as evidenced by scientific research and myriad examples in the news. What is unclear, however, is how such norm violations shape power hierarchies. Do norm violators climb the ladder or fall from grace? Some theorizing suggests that norm violations undermine power, whereas other work suggests that norm violations may increase power. We address this puzzle by examining when norm violators gain or lose power, depending on their group membership and the frequency and consequences of the violations. Findings will inform understanding of power dynamics, morality, and the evolution of social hierarchies.
  • Prof. Han van der Maas (Psychology): Analyzing developmental change with time-series data of a large scale educational monitoring system
    Recently, an adaptive web-based training and testing system (Mathgarden) has been created that provides high frequency time-series data of thousands of children on different cognitive and scholastic tasks. Besides its applied value for children and teachers, the data generated by this system have great scientific potential. The data provide the opportunity of solving long-standing debates in cognitive development. With innovative statistical analyses we answer key questions on continuity/discontinuity, the role of critical periods, and mutual relations between learning domains. Resolving these debates will increase the already existing educational benefits of the Mathgarden, and will result in ways to improve the Dutch educational system.
  • Prof. Annemarie Mol (Anthropology): Accountability in practice: an ethnographic study of evaluation research in Afghanistan
    In Afghanistan evaluation research is called upon to assess the effects of foreign intervention. Engaging in such research, however, is hardly straightforward. This project seeks to map what it practically entails to draft questionnaires, do interviews, analyze data, write reports, and present recommendations. Combining ethnographic methods with rigorous analysis, we will articulate what each of these research steps requires and engenders in the intractable Afghan context. While important in its own right, our detailed study of a limited set of Afghan cases will also feed into more general discussions on what indicator-based governance is and may hope to be.
  • Prof. Arthur Schram (Economics): A Behavioral Approach to Tax Incidence
    The project aims to revisit tax incidence (in particular, liability side equivalence) using recent insights on bounded rationality and other-regarding preferences. In this way, it hopes to integrate classic public finance and behavioral economics. The research has a theoretical and an experimental component. Theoretically, it will investigate how established bounds on rationality affect tax perception and how this perception (together with other-regarding preferences) affect tax incidence. Laboratory experiments will be used to test the theories developed here. A second theoretical contribution will be to subsequently derive optimal taxation results that take such ‘boundedly rational tax incidence’ into account.
  • Prof. Randolph Sloof (Economics): The origins of trust: A theoretical and experimental approach
    This project proposes to explore a conceptual trust building mechanism in which people purposely choose to make themselves vulnerable by explicitly providing their trading partner with the opportunity to punish them. The rationale for doing so is to indicate their intention for cooperation. A number of different variants of this mechanism will be studied, both theoretically by means of behavioural modelling, and empirically through laboratory experiments. Among other things it will be investigated whether making oneself vulnerable can effectively be efficiency enhancing and whether endogenous punishment institutions may operate as an important source of trust.
  • Prof. Herman van de Werfhorst (Sociology): A different place for different people? Conditional neighbourhood effects on residents? socioeconomic status and mobility
    Neighbourhoods affect the socioeconomic prospects of their inhabitants. Yet, despite theoretical suggestions little is known empirically about how and for whom the neighbourhood matters. Previous research often assumed that neighbourhood characteristics affect all inhabitants equally, but is that the case? By ignoring potential conditional relationships, neighbourhood effects have been consistently underestimated. This project makes use of unique, high quality and longitudinal administrative data to investigate differential effects depending on social networks, length and time of residence and change in neighbourhoods. As differential effects would require differentiated policy solutions, the outcomes will be relevant to scholars and policy makers.