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Several psychologists, social scientists and culture experts from SWPS University have been awarded over PLN 4 million in research grants from the National Science Center (NCN). Professor Radosław Markowski, Associate Professor John Bruce Nezlek, Dr. Katarzyna Cantarero, Dr. Agata Sobków, Ewa Godziszewska, Joanna Gutral, and Katarzyna Myślińska-Szarek will examine a range of topics related to moral judgements, the electoral process, numeric competencies, vegetarianism, work engagement, perceived changes in personality over the lifespan, and the American method acting technique.

Polish National Election Study 2019

This project has two objectives. The first is the carrying out of the seventh wave of the Polish National Election Study (PNES) survey during the 2019 parliamentary elections. The PNES is a post-electoral survey of a representative sample of adult citizens of Poland, which asks a range of questions about socio-demographic characteristics (for example, age, gender, education, occupation and income), attitudes to democracy, views on the performance of democracy and the economic situation, attitudes on a range of important social questions, and participation and vote choice in elections. The PNES 2019 survey will include all the aforementioned questions, as well as a variety of questions concerning recent political and social developments. This objective is motivated by the continuing importance of reliable sources of data for the analysis of electoral behavior. The PNES is the only survey in Central and Eastern Europe to have incorporated all four modules of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), the most prestigious and comprehensive comparative dataset for the study of electoral behavior.

The second objective is to find ways to make post-election surveys more innovative and cost-efficient. Until now, the PNES surveys have used a face-to-face survey methodology based on a random sample of population. This remains the “gold standard” for the representativeness of surveys, but with people less willing than in the past to participate in long face-to-face surveys, it is increasingly difficult and expensive to collect data in this fashion. The internet has opened up a range of possibilities for administering surveys cheaply and efficiently, using increasingly widespread internet-connected devices. However, such surveys remain less representative of the entire population, as some groups – for example older people, or those with lower incomes – have less reliable access to the internet, or a lower propensity to make use of it. In this project, the researchers will conduct two internet-based surveys alongside the traditional face-to-face survey. This objective is motivated by the need to adapt existing methods of collecting data to changing circumstances, and to make efficient use of new technologies. The research project will include developing questionnaires for the face-to-face and internet surveys, employing services of a professional polling agency to field the surveys, and then cleaning and analyzing data by members of the project team.

Thanks to the grant from the National Science Centre (NCN), Professor Radosław Markowski and his team will be able to fund a new round of the PNES, which will incorporate module 5 of the CSES and also provide new data about important contemporary issues. The grant will also help to evaluate the representativeness of internet-based surveys by comparing them to the “gold standard” face-to-face surveys and enable the scientists to develop tools for adjusting the results of internet surveys to make them more representative of the entire population.

Understanding relationships between vegetarianism as a social identity and psychological well-being

The number of people who are vegetarians is increasing in our society and across the world. Although vegetarianism is becoming more popular, vegetarians tend to have lower psychological well-being than omnivores. Although this has been found in numerous studies, there are no good explanations for why this is so. The project will focus on two types of explanations for this. One explanation is that vegetarians, as a social minority, are treated poorly by the majority of people who are omnivores. Such treatment may not be direct (e.g., physical violence, verbal insults); it can be indirect (e.g., excluding people from social events). Another explanation is that vegetarians see the world in ways that leads to them to be less happy. For example, vegetarians may be more sensitive to social injustice than omnivores are, and because of this they see the world less positively than omnivores see it. Also, all vegetarians are not the same in terms of why they are vegetarians, and another goal of the project is to understand why people become vegetarians. It seems that there are three broad reasons for this: ethical, eating meat is wrong; health related, eating meat is unhealthy; and environmental, raising animals as food damages the environment. The studies will determine how important each of these motives are for people who are vegetarians, and if these reasons are related to why vegetarians have lower well-being than omnivores. The project will also study how vegetarians are seen by omnivores and how vegetarians view omnivores, and will study if such perceptions are related to why vegetarians have poorer psychological health than omnivores.

Thanks to the grant from the National Science Centre (NCN), Associate Professor John Bruce Nezlek from the Poznań Faculty of Psychology will answer questions about differences between vegetarians and omnivores in daily psychological well-being and how daily well-being is related to social experiences such as rejection. It is hoped that understanding how vegetarians and omnivores view each other will help to ease whatever tensions such differences create.

Individual differences in the need for sense-making, work meaningfulness and work engagement

The aim of the project is to show that work engagement depends on employees’ willingness to find meaning in their work, on finding that meaning and on the degree to which the employees need to perform tasks, which for them subjectively, are meaningful. The researchers will test several aspects of this issue. In a longitudinal study, they will test whether people with a strong need to engage in meaningful activities are more prone to searching for meaning in their work and if, in consequence, they become more engaged in their work. They will also examine how perceived meaningfulness of an activity relates to situational work engagement.

Additinoally, the researchers want to test whether individuals with a strong need of sense-making are more engaged and perform tasks more eagerly, when placed in a more meaningful situation, for example when performing tasks, which are perceived as useful. They will study how both, the intentional search for meaning and finding this meaning, impact situational work engagement and performance. Finally, they will check if an introduction of interventions involving additional new and meaningful activities relates to increased work engagement, whether this effect is more pronounced in people with a strong need for sense-making, and if searching for and finding meaning in work plays an important role in work engagement.

Thanks to the grant from the NCN, Dr. Katarzyna Cantarero from the Faculty of Psychology in Wrocław will research the role of job crafting that considers individual differences in sense-making and finding meaning in work.

The role of multiple numeric competencies in improving decision making

Everyday decision making requires processing of numbers related to probabilities, costs and benefits. However, many people have difficulties with this type of reasoning, even when faced with simple numerical problems. It has been shown that statistical numeracy―the ability to understand the concept of probability and statistical information, and use this numerical information efficiently―is strongly related to superior decision making. Interestingly, numeracy may not be a unitary construct. For example, Peters and Bjalkebring (2015) distinguish between multiple numeric competencies (objective numeracy, subjective numeracy, and approximate numeracy), which predict distinct decision outcomes. While objective numeracy is related to performance in mathematical tasks and formal knowledge about mathematical concepts, subjective numeracy is a combination of these objective abilities, math emotions, self-efficacy and the motivation to solve tasks containing numerical information. Approximate numeracy is related to a ‘sense of number’ – the intuitive ability to perceive and manipulate numerosities, and to map symbolic numbers to magnitudes.

The main aim of this project is to experimentally validate the notion of multiple numeric competencies and to provide evidence that approximate numeracy and subjective numeracy can serve as sources of compensatory mechanisms that are potentially helpful in improving decision making among people with low numeracy.

Thanks to the grant from the NCN, Dr. Agata Sobków from the the Faculty of Psychology in Wrocław will design and test interventions that may encourage people with low numeracy to deliberate more on decision problems. These interventions will be based on the idea that presenting a numerical decision task differently than a classical mathematical problem (e.g., by instructing participants to estimate rather than calculate) might reduce math anxiety and improve self-efficacy, thereby influencing deliberation time and performance in decision tasks in people with low numeracy.

Inside the American Laboratory Theatre. The impact of Richard Boleslavsky's and Maria Ouspenskaya's teaching on the adoption of the Russian acting method by acting schools in the United States

The researcher is interested in the theory and history of acting, with a special emphasis on the impact of the Russian acting method (the so-called the Stanislavski’s technique) on acting schools in the United States and the technique's transformation into its American version, i.e., the so-called Method acting. The aim of this research project is to provide a greater understanding of how the American theatre and movie culture is rooted in the European tradition and to identify the factors, which helped American actors transform and adapt the Stanislavski’s technique to the extent that the style of acting they have developed became known as quintessentially American and the most influential and powerful in shaping the mainstream of popular culture.

The research objectives are as follows: to study the main concepts of Stanislavski’s technique and the teaching legacy of its American followers; to investigate acting training methods applied by American studios and theatre schools created at the subsequent stages of the Method acting methodology development, with the focus on the American Laboratory Theatre (where several generations of American actors learned from Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya, who had worked with Stanislavsky in Russia) and the Group Theatre (established by students of Boleslavsky and Ouspenskaya); to determine the cultural and sociological conditions that enabled the adaptation of the Stanislavski’s technique in the United States; to examine what factors cuased the partial and selective adaptation of the Stanislavski’s technique; and to investigate, how particular methods of actor training influenced the acting styles of various actors (acting analysis).

Thanks to the grant from the NCN, Ewa Godziszewska from the the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will conduct archival research and comparative analysis of the different kinds of actor training, applied in the studios and schools created at the subsequent stages of the Method acting methodology development. To investigate how the different actor training methods influenced acting styles of American actors, she will analyze selected Hollywood films with the focus on the applied means of acting expression.

The relationship between social expectations, basic psychological needs, self-enhancement, and perceived changes in personality over the life span

This project will examine a new framework that explains how people perceive personality changes over the life span. The framework comprises three mechanisms: culturally shared expectations about changes in personality, self-enhancement, and self-actualization motivation. The proposed project will also examine relationships between perceived changes in one’s own personality, authenticity, and well-being (including self-esteem, meaning in life, and life satisfaction).

The first of the proposed studies will answer two questions: (1) Do perceived changes in one’s own personality parallel changes among people in general, and (2) Do people see changes in their own personalities as more positive than they see changes in personalities of others? The next study will determine if differences in the perception of personality changes are related to satisfying their basic psychological needs. Relationships between the perception of personality changes and the sense of authenticity and wellbeing (e.g. self-esteem, life satisfaction, and meaning in life) will be measured. It is expect that the more the past and future changes are related to satisfying basic psychological needs, the greater the sense of authenticity throughout life will be.

The innovative aspects of this research include examining relationships among perceived personal changes, perceived social changes, and actual changes in personality over time, which have not been examined previously. Additionally, investigating people’s perceptions of how the satisfaction of basic psychological needs changes over the life span and how these changes relate to perceived and real changes in personality traits over the life span have not been studied. Thanks to the grant from the NCN, Joanna Gutral from the the Faculty of Psychology in Warsaw will examine a new framework explaining how people perceive personality changes over the life span.

The impact of self-interest involvement on preschoolers' moral judgments

Moral judgments about other people are an extremely important factor in the shaping of social relations. On the one hand previous studies indicate that moral judgments are, to a large extent intuitive, but on the other hand, they indicate that moral judgements made by pre-school children may be distorted. It turns out that children assess (un) moral behaviors differently, depending on the agents’ group affiliation or on the agents’ intentions. Despite numerous studies on moral judgments of children, so far none of them have examined how the involvement of self-interest affects assessments of immoral behaviors. This issue is significant because, firstly, studies involving adults show distortions of moral judgments under the influence of self-interest, and secondly, a strong egocentric attitude of pre-school children allows us to assume that children evaluate immoral behaviors differently, in situations when they stand to gain personal benefits.

The main goal of the study is to verify the hypotheses concerning distortion of moral judgments of pre-school children, under the influence of self-interest. Two preliminary tests carried out on a sample of 154 children showed a significant impact of self-interest on the degree of sympathy for the agents and the level of trust in them, but not on the evaluation of immoral behavior alone. The project assumes extending the research to include 4 other experiments, which will examine how the withdrawal of participants’ direct involvement affects the obtained results and will verify whether the results are influenced by group affiliation of the agent and of the beneficiary of immoral behavior.

Thanks to the grant from the NCN, Katarzyna Myślińska-Szarek from the the Faculty of Psychology in Sopot will verify the hypotheses concerning distortion of moral judgments of pre-school children, under the influence of self-interest.

Currently, researchers from SWPS University are conducting over 280 projects, worth close to PLN 52M. We owe this success to the effectiveness of our Office for Research and the commitment of our scientists.

Piotr Metejek, Director of the Office for Research

Research Projects Awarded in the Last Edition of the NCN Competition

prof. dr hab. Radosław Markowski
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Polish National Election Study 2019
  • Competition: OPUS 16
  • Grant amount: PLN 1,316,112

dr hab. John Bruce Nezlek
Poznań Faculty of Psychology

  • Understanding relationships between vegetarianism as a social identity and psychological well-being
  • Competition: OPUS 16
  • Grant amount: PLN 1,350,230

dr Katarzyna Cantarero
Wrocław Faculty of Psychology

  • Individual differences in the need for sense-making, work meaningfulness and work engagement
  • Competition: SONATA 14
  • Grant amount: PLN 445,800

dr Agata Sobków
Wrocław Faculty of Psychology

  • The role of multiple numeric competencies in improving decision making.
  • Competition: SONATA 14
  • Grant amount: PLN 553,100

mgr Ewa Danuta Godziszewska
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Inside the American Laboratory Theatre. The role of pedagogical activity of Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya in the transmission of the Russian acting system to America
  • Competition: PRELUDIUM 16
  • Grant amount: PLN 132,354

mgr Joanna Gutral
Warsaw Faculty of Psychology

  • The relationship between social expectations, basic psychological needs, self-enhancement, and perceived changes in personality over the life span.
  • Competition: PRELUDIUM 16
  • Grant amount: PLN 210,000

mgr Katarzyna Myślińska- Szarek
Sopot Faculty of Psychology

  • The impact of self-interest involvement on preschoolers' moral judgments
  • Competition: PRELUDIUM 16
  • Grant amount: PLN 85,530

National Science Centre Competitions

OPUS is a funding opportunity intended for a wide range of applicants. Research proposals submitted under this scheme may include purchase or construction of research equipment.
SONATA is a funding opportunity intended to support Principal Investigators in conducting innovative basic research, involving the use of advanced research equipment and/or an original methodology.
PRELUDIUM is a funding opportunity intended for pre-doctoral researchers about to embark on their scientific career

Other Research Funding Sources

The National Science Centre is not the only funding source supporting research at SWPS University. The university receives grants from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Foundation for Polish Science, and The National Centre for Research and Development. SWPS University conducts close to 300 research projects, annually.

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