The Center for Mind and Culture seeks to support policy analysts and policymakers with bio-cultural research focused on issues of widespread concern. Our work in this area is represented by the following projects.Empathy and Cooperation Project
Empathy and Cooperation Project
The CMAC team is investigating how to expand empathy circles and promote cooperation so as to produce pro-sociality. Using psychological studies, computational models and historical studies, researchers are analyzing what people need to do to form well-functioning societies – ones that can adapt to challenging environments, diffuse ideological and religious conflict and foster inter-group community. Researchers will disseminate findings among policy analysts, conflict-resolution groups and educational ventures in an effort to better understand how to mitigate real conflicts. Years active: 2017–Present.
CMAC’s research on immigration is an outgrowth of the insights gained in the MODRN project but with a more specialized focus. To generate greater understanding into the various phases of the immigration process, CMAC is employing massive datasets and computer simulation techniques as well as closely collaborating with immigration experts.Researchers are building computational models that can be calibrated to a specific nation’s and city’s demographics and policy conditions in order to study long-term integration. The result is a playground in which we can virtually experiment with policy, generating insights to help guide policymakers and analysts toward what is most effective for any number of communities. Years active: 2016–Present.
Anti-Child Trafficking Project
Anti-Child Trafficking Project
The CMAC team is applying its computational modeling and simulation knowledge to the issue of child trafficking. Starting in the Fall of 2017, researchers will be building a virtual world to depict particular kinds of trafficking in specific places. That computational modeling will not only enable them to better understand how trafficking happens, but it will also allow them to evaluate competing policy ideas. Using this software, researchers can optimize different variables – effects, expense, etc – in order to find the conditions under which each strategy is most likely to succeed.
The team’s accompanying analysis of mass datasets will help make sense of extremely complex data and potentially detect patterns that people cannot find. These combined techniques can make activists and funders more effective, demonstrating how CMAC’s innovation lends itself to answering widespread and deeply troubling social problems. Years active: 2017–Present.
The Spectrums Project is a long-term, multidisciplinary initiative to study the left-right ideological spectrum in religion. With initial funding from the Boston University School of Theology, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion, the Spectrums Project personnel developed a multidimensional survey instrument to measure respondents’ theological orientation regarding beliefs, practice, and morality. When published, this instrument – the Multidimensional Religious Ideology scale, or “MRI” – will be the most advanced and fine-grained measure of religious ideology yet produced. It will generate insight into how various dimensions of ideology interact, how individuals adopt their worldview, and how we elevate mutual understanding over extremist or polarized discourse. Years active: 2011–Present
- Catherine Caldwell-Harris (PI)
- Nicholas DiDonato
- Aimee Rodom
- Wesley Wildman (PI)
- Connor Wood
- Ravi Iyer