• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

To Combine Experiment With Intervention And Field Studies

Peter Schmidt, Professor of sociology at the University of Giessen and a renowned expert in social psychology, who has become one of the heads of the HSE International Laboratory for Socio-Cultural Studies, told us about the plans and key research topics of the laboratory.

— Professor Schmidt, when and how did you start working with the Higher School of Economics?

— I was introduced to my Russian colleagues by Shalom Schwartz, Professor of Psychology at the University of Jerusalem, who is now Academic Supervisor of the HSE International Laboratory for Socio-Cultural Studies. We have been collaborating for a long time on the development of tools for the measurement of human values  and have carried out joint research related to the influence of these values on human behavior and relationships. So, my contacts with Nadezhda Lebedeva, the Laboratory Head, at first were not direct, but in October last year we met in person and now jointly head the laboratory.

— In your view, what are the key tasks of the new department?

— The staff of the laboratory is involved in the systematic study of the role of cultural values in socio-economic behavior and production of innovations. The economic success of modern society depends on the level of its modernization, and hence it is necessary to understand why some people seek to invent something new, while others don’t, and what are the motivations of both the former and the latter. In our work we try to combine methods which are rarely used together – laboratory experiments, field studies and so-called intervention studies. To understand whether our conclusions and ideas are correct, it is important not to lock ourselves away within the walls of the laboratory, but to analyze the research results in practice. We shall work in collaboration with various organizations and institutions, which seek to develop and implement innovations and are ready to apply our knowledge and methods in their teams. It is similar to the situation in medicine – to fight diseases, not only tested methods are used, but also a permanent search for more effective means of treatment – and just like this, we are guided by the necessity to constantly search for some new methods of analysing human behavior and its motivations.

— In this case, what is the difference between experimental methods and the intervention method?

— An experiment is carried out under laboratory conditions, and usually students or volunteers take part in it. The conditions of an experiment are created artificially, and usually they are far removed from real situations taking place in society. That’s why the knowledge which is received as a result of a laboratory experiment cannot be fully or directly transferred to real situations. I shall give another example from medicine: not all the results of research are implemented in medical practice. Intervention methods let us trial our developments in real life conditions of a real team, and allow us to take into account all the circumstances of everyday processes.

— Can you tell us something about the presentation you made on innovations in cross-cultural studies at theXII International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development?

— Yes, my presentation was dedicated to the key methods of synthesis and integration of new knowledge and discoveries in modern science. I told the conference participants about meta-analysis – a technique which is often used in medical psychology and which summarizes and analyzes quantitative indicators from various studies and helps to reveal the real effect from the combination and interaction of all known factors and assists in eliminating the uncertainty of research conclusions. The creative efforts of people in any innovative process are decreased when there are doubts and uncertainties in the team, and hence it is very important to develop a mechanism of overcoming uncertainty and/or a mechanism of selecting people who are able to overcome their own doubts.

— Can we clarify exactly about what innovations are we talking about? In what field?

— In principle, it doesn’t matter.  We are interested in the process of innovations in any area of human activity – in telecommunications, social life, the creation of new organizational forms, computer technologies or technical developments. The modernization mechanisms in any area are very similar, and our laboratory aims to reveal general principles and knowledge which can be used by society as a whole, including the field of education.

— What can you tell us about the laboratory staff?

— The staff of the laboratory are very well prepared for international research work. My Russian colleagues are highly qualified and experienced in the study of cultural values, economic behavior and innovative processes in Russia. In addition to that, Nadezhda Lebedeva is a perfect organizer. Shalom Schwartz, Academic Supervisor of the laboratory, is a brilliant expert in the values theory. I have also for many years been involved in the studies of values and rational choice in behavior studies. In addition to that, I have experience of building complex models of behavior considering various influences – conditional and independent – and the experience of preparation and implementation of research based on interventions. This means that we perfectly complement each other as experts and are ready to solve tasks of any level of difficulty. We shall also attract master’s and postgraduate students to work in the laboratory, and we’re looking not only for psychologists and sociologists, but also economists.

As far as I see, in recent years in the world there has been a clear trend towards convergence and joint interdisciplinary studies between behavioral psychologists, managers and economists who are united not only by their interest in solving similar professional tasks, but also by the use of similar explanatory models in the study of certain processes.

— What are the laboratory’s immediate plans?

— First of all, we would like to develop a complex model of interrelation between the values and innovative processes based on the data which has already been collected, and study the changes of Russian values (including regional) compared with the European ones over the last 7 or 8 years. As far as I understand, some Russian researchers from different regions have expressed their interest and willingness to participate in our projects and supply the field study data necessary for our research.

In addition to research work, in June I am planning to participate in the work of the HSE Summer School on ‘Values and Socio-Economic Behavior: Cross-Cultural Measurements and Explanatory Models’, and in October I am planning to read a lecture course on structural modeling and multivariant analysis for students of the HSE Faculty of Psychology.

I am planning to come to Moscow at least five times a year, and for the rest of the time to be in contact with the laboratory staff by all available means – e-mail, phone and Skype. I think that we will be able to prepare a number of joint presentations on our projects for some large international conferences.

Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service

Photo by Nikita Benzoruk

See also:

Cutting Edge Neuroscience Research to Be Discussed during Online Conference at HSE University

The first International Conference on Social Neurology in Environmentally Sound Conditions, organized by the International Laboratory of Social Neurobiology of the Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences and Aalto University will be held online on June 21-23, 2021. The HSE News Service spoke with conference organisers and some of the key speakers in the run-up to the conference about its agenda and some research highlights.

Life with COVID: ‘The Beast Is Dangerous and Needs to Be Watched’

Researchers have yet to evaluate the entire impact of COVID on mortality. However, it is now possible to discuss the first results of some initial studies. The HSE International Laboratory for Population and Health held a webinar ‘The First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Russia (April 2020—March 2021)’. Although the Russian total mortality rate increased during that period, it was Slovakia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Poland that topped the list. The lowest growth in the mortality rate was observed in South Korea. Meanwhile, researchers have failed to detect a lockdown-induced baby boom anywhere in the world.

HSE University Invites Scholars to Participate in the International Laboratories Competition

HSE University is accepting applications for the three-year project competition for the creation of international laboratories. The winners of the competition will receive annual funding of up to 13 million roubles to conduct research from 2022 to 2024.

Mirror Labs: A Geographic Effect

The HSE Laboratory for Neurobiological Foundations of Cognitive Development (Neuropsy Lab) is one of 13 winners of the HSE Mirror Laboratories Competition and the only lab headed by an international faculty member. The Neuropsy Lab’s partner institution is the Scientific and Educational Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Art Technologies based out of Ulyanovsk State University. The HSE Look spoke about this collaboration with the lab’s head – Dr Marie Arsalidou, Associate Professor at the HSE School of Psychology.

When Risks Are Too High: The International Centre of Decision Choice and Analysis on the Outcomes of Its Work

In the more than 10 years since it was established, the HSE International Centre of Decision Choice and Analysis has travelled a long way from a laboratory to an academic centre of gravity for globally renowned scholars.Fuad Aleskerov, Professor in the HSE Faculty of Economic Sciences and Director of the HSE International Centre of Decision Choice and Analysis, spoke about the evolution of the centre’s team, its research activity, and solving Arctic dilemmas through the use of mathematical models.

Researchers Establish Intracellular Interaction Network in Breast Cancer

HSE University researchers have identified the genes that play a crucial role in breast cancer metastasis. The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

‘We Managed to Create Another Centre of Mathematical Life in Moscow’

In celebration of Russia’s Year of Science and Technology, we continue our series about HSE University’s international laboratories, which are headed by world-class scientists and scholars. The first of these, the Laboratory of Algebraic Geometry and Its Applications, was established in October 2010. Below, Laboratory Head Dmitry Kaledin discusses the Lab’s history, research, achievements, and current activities.

Between St. Petersburg and Moscow: International Lab Researchers Create a New Theoretical School

In Russia, 2021 was declared the Year of Science and Technology. HSE has always paid special attention to the development of science, and more than 40 international laboratories have played an important role in the development of the university as a world research centre. One of the University’s first such laboratories was theRonald F. Inglehart Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR), named after its academic supervisor at the time, American sociologist and political scientist Ronald Inglehart. HSE News Service spoke with LCSR Laboratory Head and professor of sociology Eduard Ponarin (HSE – St. Petersburg) about the Laboratory’s work over the past decade.

Lockdown by Algorithm: A Proposed Model Calculates Optimal Restriction Levels

During the pandemic, countries have endeavoured to protect their citizens without hurting their economies with excessive restrictions. At the seminar ‘Living with Covid-19: Optimal Lockdown Policies’, Hubert Kempf, academic supervisor of HSE University’s International Laboratory for Macroeconomic Analysis, presented a mathematical model that can be used to calculate the optimal level of restrictions.  

International Laboratory of Bioinformatics Opens at the Faculty of Computer Science

On January 25, 2021, an International Laboratory of Bioinformatics opened at the Faculty of Computer Science. The main goal of the laboratory is to determine the role of alternative DNA structures in the genome.