Active and recent research projects
Twinning Project collaboration
Reoffending is a major social and economic problem in the industrialised world. The Twinning Project, pairing clubs with prisons to offer football-industry training and, perhaps most importantly, group identities is offering one solution. Our social identities are clearly important to us; they’re what help us know how to behave around people and give us a sense of belonging and meaning. We predict that interventions which provide a set of personally transformative experiences for re-building this void in social support and belonging are likely to reduce reoffending. This research is being conducted as part of a large ERC-funded grant: Ritual Modes: Divergent modes of ritual, social cohesion, prosociality, and conflict.
What leads some group members to fight and die for their group, while others favour peaceful solutions? Identity fusion - commonly described as a ‘oneness’ with one’s group - may hold the answers. Samples come from four continents, including Indonesian fundamentalist Muslims, British football fans, Australian ultras and Brazilian torcidas organizadas (football ‘hooligans’). This research has been conducted as part of a large ERC-funded grant (Ritual Modes: Divergent modes of ritual, social cohesion, prosociality, and conflict), an ESRC-funded grant (Ritual, Community, and Conflict) and an ESRC doctoral scholarship.
Stress & bonding
Collecting scientific data in the field can be challenging, particularly for physiological measures. I collected data at live World Cup events in Brazil (while battling morning sickness) to explore relationships between physiological stress, game outcome, and social bonding. Further studies have been run at a series of American college basketball events. The data, collected in collaboration with researchers at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil) and the University of Connecticut (USA) are currently being analysed and written up.
Anthropology and the WEIRD problem
Over-reliance on Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) participants in psychological experiments is not merely biased, but samples one of the most atypical slices of humanity, both historically and cross-culturally (Heine, 2008; Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010a, 2010b). With experts from psychology, cognitive science, and anthropology, we have identified four fundamental principles that together may aid in solving the WEIRD problem. This is the WILD approach: Worldwide (samples are selected from every corner of the world); In situ (natural rather than laboratory settings); Local (i.e. bottom up designs); Diverse (not limited to student populations).