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Decision Making and Human Behavior in Context (DM)

Grants to USA PhDs in All Social Sciences for Research
Related to Human Behavior and Decision Making

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Russell Sage Foundation (RSF)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

11/21/19 2:00 PM Eastern Time/11:00 AM Pacific Time


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Grants to USA PhDs for original, wide-ranging research in all areas of social science that relate to decision making. Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent before applying. Funding is intended for research into the processes and contexts of decision making, as well as the causes and effects, from an alternative or behavioral perspective.

The Fund seeks to support a wide range of research on decision-making in context by scholars in psychology, political science, sociology, and other social science fields who are pursuing questions consistent with the aims of the Foundation.

This initiative will support research proposals from multiple methodological perspectives that will further the understanding of decision-making processes and human behavior in the contexts of work, race, ethnicity, immigration, and social inequality, broadly conceived, in the United States.

Priority will be given to research related to the Funds core programs and other special initiatives. Limited consideration will be given to projects that test well-established behavioral effects without examining the overarching context or the underlying mechanisms.

Research in this area is expanding rapidly. RSF is open to a range of questions consistent with its mission, and has a particular interest in the following research areas:

Biases and Misperceptions
An important contribution of behavioral science has been to uncover the role that biases play in decision making and behavior across multiple contexts. RSF is interested in studies examining implicit and explicit biases in employment, criminal, judicial, political, educational, and other important settings. To what extent and how do conscious and unconscious biases and misperceptions affect decisions and behaviors? What are the consequences of these actions?

Motivations and Incentives
Individuals respond to incentives, and to a broad array of social, political, psychological, and cultural motivations. RSF is interested in supporting research on motivated decision making and behavior that has consequences for social, economic and political inequalities. To what extent and how do motivations (e.g., sense belonging, group identity, self-improvement, etc.) affect behavior and decisions related to well being, mobility, or political participation? What role can collective deliberation play? What kinds of motivations are subject to change or interventions?

Habits and Behavior Change
A great deal of human behavior is not openly motivated, in the sense that it is habitual, intuitive, taken-for-granted, or otherwise not reflective. This kind of behavior can be a challenge for those seeking changes related to social, economic and political inequalities. How are socio-economically consequential habits formed and changed? To what extent does group membership affect the process? What are the limits of nudges and similar interventions that seek to modify the choice architecture involved in important decisions?

Affect and Emotions
Emotions shape people’s decision making and behavior, both consciously and subconsciously. The role of affect or emotions can be especially important to understand among powerful decision-makers. What role do emotions play in social, economic, political and legal decisions and behaviors? To what extent are the consequences for human welfare and related policies beneficial or detrimental? To what extent and how can detrimental effects be countered?

Networks and Contexts
Many decisions are made not in isolation, but with the help of social networks, whose members may be turned to for information, advice, support, or other needs. Networks also influence the way many such decisions are made and have been shown to be important in the context of the job search, college enrollment, voting, other topics relevant to mobility, poverty, and inequality. To what extent and how do contexts and networks—their structure and composition—affect decisions and behavior? To what extent and how do neighborhoods, organizations, and other contexts in which people form and maintain networks shape these processes?

Research Grants are generally limited to $175,000 (including indirect) and subject to availability of funds. Projects that use publicly available data are capped at $75,000 (including indirect). No indirect cost is allowed on budgets of up to $50,000. RSF allows up to a maximum of 15% overhead for indirect costs on Research Grants above $50,000.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184900

Estimated Size of Grant:

Research Grants are generally limited to $175,000 (including indirect) and subject to availability of funds. Projects that use publicly available data are capped at $75,000 (including indirect). No indirect cost is allowed on budgets of up to $50,000. RSF allows up to a maximum of 15% overhead for indirect costs on Research Grants above $50,000.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All applicants (both PIs and Co-PIs) must have a doctorate, or must demonstrate a long career trajectory that supports the ability to carry-out high-level research.. In rare circumstances, RSF may consider applications from scholars who o not hold a doctorate but can demonstrate a strong career background that establishes their ability to conduct high-level, peer-reviewed scholarly research.

All letters of inquiry must be submitted directly by an eligible principal investigator (PI) or co-PI of the proposed project. The account must be in the name of the applicant; university administration staff or students may not submit applications. If the person submitting the application is not eligible to apply, the foundation will not consider the application.

All nationalities are eligible to apply and applicants do not have to reside in the U.S., but the focus of the proposed research project must be on the U.S. as per the Fund's mission.

Students may not be applicants.

Russell Sage does not fund pre-doctoral study or research, and does not give scholarships or other types of grants for support of college funding. As a general rule, they do not provide tuition reimbursements, and they do not fund residential fellowships elsewhere. They are enjoined by IRS code from making general support grants to other institutions; only specific research project grants that further their declared program goals are permitted.

The foundation does not typically provide support for conferences and workshops independent of a specific project and affiliated grant. In some rare cases, they will consider providing partial support for a specific research conference that furthers the goals of the foundation. Open-ended conferences will not be considered.

Research grants do not provide funds for:
- Items or equipment such as computers or software; we will consider equipment requests on a case-by-case basis. In no case can more than $5,000 be spent on equipment.
- RSF does not cover rent for office space.
- Sabbaticals or fellowships at other institutions, even if the PI will be working on an RSF project.
- Release time (course buy-outs) from teaching during the academic year.
- Pre-doctoral or doctoral research (including dissertation research).
- Tuition remission for graduate or undergraduate students.
- Personnel or other costs related to communications or dissemination or publication, including journal publication fees.
- Travel for collaboration purposes or dissemination/presentation of findings (conference travel).
- The development of the data collection instrument and sample design as part of the proposed project.
- Generic costs, such as copying, printing, mailing, phone calls, information/computer services, etc., as these are typically considered to be a part of indirect costs.

Pre-Application Information:

An LOI should contain only one research project; you may submit additional LOIs with other (potentially related) projects. LOIs must be submitted through the online portal directly by an eligible principal investigator or co-principal investigator.

Only invited proposals will be considered.

Due to the large amount of applications submitted, the Fund is unable to read or provide feedback on draft LOIs. They cannot guarantee a response to any questions submitted within 10 days of a deadline.

*ALL applications (LOIs & Proposals) are due by 2pm ET/11am PT
LOI Deadline: May 23, 2019
Invited Proposal Deadline: August 15, 2019
Funding Decision: November 2019

LOI Deadline: August 19, 2019
Invited Proposal Deadline: November 21, 2019
Funding Decision: March 2020


Eligibility and Requirements:

Budget Requirements:


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit an LOI or a proposal:

Direct questions regarding the submission of letters of inquiry (LOI) or proposals to:

Russell Sage Foundation
112 E. 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
Phone: (212) 750-6000

URL for Full Text (RFP):

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