Launching our External Research Experience Scheme (ERES) – Belfast, NY & beyond
We were delighted to launch the External Research Experience Scheme (ERES) this Summer and collaborated with Dr Kai Ruggeri. Kai is an alumnus of our School and is currently Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University
What is ERES?
The External Research Experience Scheme (ERES) for Psychology Students is intended to provide our undergraduates the opportunity to gain valuable experience working on research projects with alumni in international academic institutions. Students are expected to work approximately 150 hours throughout the year, to gain a greater understanding of how research is performed, as well as developing key skills in a range of research activities.
The Project: The globalizability of temporal discounting
Dr Kai Ruggeri said:
“The 2021 study on decision-making around the world focused on “temporal discounting”, which is an important concept in psychological science. The theory behind it is that we give greater value to things that are more immediate, and “discount” future events. For example, we might value getting 100 quid today more than getting 100 quid in a week, or even 100 now over 150 in a month. A lot of research has looked into this, but the vast majority comes from western countries, small samples, or very narrow methods.
For our study, we wanted to know two major things.
- First, we wanted to address concerns about replicability and generalisability in behavioural sciences and the lack of representation of non-WEIRD By collecting data from over 13,000 people from 61 countries, our data would be able show if the concept of temporal discounting could be considered globally generalisable, or as we called it “globalisable”.
- Second, we wanted to know if there was a clear link between economic inequality and decision-making over time, often referred to as “intertemporal choice”. A lot of research has concluded that lower income individuals have more extreme temporal discounting, but they limited to only one aspect of the behaviour. In fact, there are many types of intertemporal choice patterns, so we tested five of them on top of the core temporal discounting measures”.
What did the students do?
Eight psychology students from Queen’s contributed directly to this project. On top of assisting with getting the currencies and financial values correctly calibrated for each country, they also assisted with translation, recruitment, and general data management. All of them are named authors on the manuscript. Those students are (primary country worked on in brackets):
Mary Shiels (Nigeria)
Alexander Bailey (New Zealand)
Arjoon Arunasalam (Malaysia)
Sharon McParland (Australia)
Grace Duffy (Ireland)
Rand Said (Jordan)
Kailin Xu (Malaysia)
Federica Rocca (Switzerland)
All students put in a tremendous effort over an intensive three-month window and made huge contributions to the study.
The student experience
Grace Duffy said about the experience:
“The opportunity to work alongside people from all over the world with so many different experiences was amazing and getting to be one of three to represent Ireland in the project was an honour. It feels amazing to have my name published on the finished research paper”.
What the study found out?
Dr Ruggeri reported:
“To be transparent and carry out responsible research with such a major aim, this study was pre-registered and is now available in preprint form. In the end, we find compelling evidence that the construct is very much globalisable – to varying extents, we see it in every population where we tested. Furthermore, we find that income can impact your willingness to wait longer for larger future amounts, but the much stronger predictors are things like economic inequality and inflation. We have to be somewhat cautious to over-interpret this, particularly because findings have not been through peer review yet. However, as things stand, the general takeaway is that poorer individuals are not worse decision-makers (as is often implied) and in fact, anyone in a problematic environment where the economic situation is fraught or unstable is likely to make very similar choices”.
To find out more about ERES, please contact Carolyn Largey at: firstname.lastname@example.org