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The research conducted by Psychonomic scientists is highly applicable to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Psychonomic Society has launched multiple initiatives relative to this worldwide crisis. The coronavirus is spread through human behavior. We are the people who study human behavior and the cognition that drives it. By sharing practical tips on how to change behavior, we have the opportunity to empower the public and help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

A number of you have already responded to our call for volunteers. Thank you. We know that you are busy and being pulled in multiple directions as you adapt to changes in your personal and professional lives. We are grateful for your help. As our work continues to expand, we are looking for additional volunteer support on several initiatives.

Types of Volunteer Support
If you have time available in your schedule and the skills needed to support any of these areas, here is how you can get involved:

  1. Volunteer with the Behavioral Science Response to COVID-19 working group
  2. Volunteer with the Task Force on Carbon Neutrality

Volunteer with the Behavioral Science Response to COVID-19 Working Group

The Behavioral Science Response to COVID-19 Working Group, led by Jonathon Crystal and James Pomerantz, has now produced two sets of infographics: 1) How to Stop Touching Your Face (available in 20+ languages), and 2) Practical Tips for Social Distancing. Volunteers with the Working Group offer support in one or more of the following areas:

     1. Message dissemination

     2. Public relations

  • Distribute infographics to media outlets in areas that have been hard-hit by the coronavirus and are seeing increasing numbers of confirmed COVID cases.
  • Reach out to social media influencers and ask them to share the tips from our infographics. 
  • Partner with the media, health officials, government officials, and NGOS to distribute infographics in regions where COVID-19 educational materials have not been widely accessible.
  • Contact your elected officials and ask them to share the infographics with their constituents.
  • Do you have a media contact who would like to run a story on Tips from Behavioral Scientists to help slow the spread of COVID-19? Connect with James Pomerantz to schedule an interview.

     3. Conduct research

  • Initiate or assist on experiments regarding social/physical distancing, face touching, and hand washing. Examples:

    • Measure social distancing. To see how well people comply with social distancing requirement, and to see what factors improve that rate of compliance, it’s important that we have accurate, reliable, simple, and inexpensive ways to measure how people distance themselves from others. Research developing and testing methods could contribute a lot. For example, you could message the smartphones of Amazon Turk members who have registered for experiments asking them their distance to the nearest person at that moment, whether that nearest person is a family member, etc.

    • Identify optimal feedback to improve social distancing. Persuasion expert Robert Cialdini finds social disapproval is a powerful tool to discourage people from ignoring social norms such as not littering or not stealing artifacts from national parks. Online surveys show the most common word people use to describe fare-dodgers who board subways without paying is “cheater.” Subsequently, messages placed in subway stations that included that optimal word proved to be highly effective in discouraging the behavior. Could you conduct survey research to learn the word people use to describe a person who fails to socially distance? As Bob wrote one of us recently, “The campaign could honestly state that, on the basis of the survey, ‘This is the word people will say to themselves about you, or out loud to you, if they see you violating proper practice.’” Discovering this word and using it in public messaging would be a good way to apply behavioral science to boost compliance and slow the spread of the virus.

We encourage you to submit your papers to Psychonomics journals. We will do our best to fast-track COVID-19 related research. In some instances, we may be able to offer partial subsidies on page charges for Open Access publications, to increase the accessibility of your research. 

Volunteer with the Behavioral Science Response to COVID-19 working group. Submit your Volunteer Registration Form.

Volunteer with the Task Force on Carbon Neutrality

The Task Force on Carbon Neutrality, led by James Pomerantz and Suparna Rajaram, is working towards the goal of reducing the Society's carbon footprint, especially as it relates to our annual meeting. One of the ways we plan to do this is by increasing the live-streaming of talks and symposia. To that end, we need volunteers with experience planning and executing online conferences. We especially looking for individuals with experience supporting the technical side of a virtual conference. We will be running a "test" or rehearsal of a virtual symposium in May or June, and would invite interested volunteers to help us run the rehearsal and debrief afterwards about ways to make virtual symposia and virtual talks as powerful as possible for presenters and audience members alike.

Volunteer with the Task Force on Carbon Neutrality! Submit your Volunteer Registration Form.

Thank You

There will come a day when the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and becomes a page in our history books. We're not there yet, and we have much to offer in this present moment. But even looking forward, we know that this experience is going to create a new type of "normal" for everyday life. Behavioral and cognitive science will continue to have much to teach us. Please join the Society in our efforts to reach the public with these important messages.

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