On 17 May Eos Pipet is awarded to the most talented young researcher in Flanders. Ghent University researchers Kobe Desender (experimental psychology) and Jasper Van Assche (social psychology) are among the 5 laureates.
Jasper Van Assche investigates why diversity polarizes
Social psychologist Jasper Van Assche formulated ways to turn negative attitudes towards ethnic diversity. He sent out questionnaires to residents of Flemish and Dutch neighborhoods with more and less diversity. Among other things, he asked if they wanted to leave their neighborhood and if they would vote for a particular political party.
Van Assche found that diversity in itself is not harmful to society. Contrary to popular belief, negative reactions only occurred in some individuals. "It was about people with a strong desire for authoritarianism. They value their own community and stick to traditional norms and values. "
Van Assche used the research to formulate solutions. "Many immigrants live clustered in certain neighborhoods, you hardly find any native Dutch. That makes it easy to avoid each other, while contact is just beneficial. "The psychologist found that meetings at neighborhood parties or cooking workshops reduce prejudice and promote tolerance. This was especially the case with individuals who perceived diversity as a threat.
Vote for Jasper
Kobe Desender measures doubt in our brain
Kobe Desender investigated what happens in the brain right after you make a decision. He measured the brain activity of test subjects during a computer test in which they had to make choices quickly. The more uncertain the participants were about their decision, the stronger the brain activity. "It indicates that you are still thinking: have I made the right choice? What you have seen may take place in your brain, "said the neuroscientist. In everyday life we have to make decisions all the time. According to Desender, the uncertainty you feel after you have made a choice can be manipulated. Among other things, he mentions meditation and attention training. This can lead to greater judgment.
Vote for Kobe
Vote for your favorite
Everyone can vote for the public award at www.eosweterschap.eu/eospipet2020. The winner will be announced on Sunday 17 May. With this award, EOS, in collaboration with the Young Academy, wants to bring science and technology to the attention of the general public in a positive way.
The laureates were selected by seven jury members: jury chairman Willy Verstraete (KU Leuven), Heleen Dewitte (UGent), Lars De Laet (VUB), Beatrijs Vanacker (KUL) and science journalists Dieter De Cleene (Eos), Marleen Finoulst and Senne Starckx.