JSMF Opportunity Awards
JSMF is internationally known for supporting research on cognition and behavior, and currently does so through its Understanding Human Cognition (UHC) program. In 2020, JSMF announced priorities for the foundation’s support for the fields of cognitive science, cognitive psychology and developmental science with the intent of launching a funding initiative that would be forward looking and responsive to contemporary questions, while building on JSMF’s history. The Opportunity Awards were initiated because the foundation believes the time is right to advance the understanding of human cognition and behavior via a developmental science approach.
Much of the current understanding of behavior is derived from experimental laboratory work that makes substantive conceptual and methodological assumptions during task selection and data acquisition. Cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience experiments are typically pursued in artificial environments with subjects drawn from narrowly defined populations performing tasks assumed to be valid proxies for real cognition and behavior. As a result, these experiments may not reflect the naturally occurring, free-flowing behaviors humans engage in their everyday lives. It is reasonable to ask how much has been missed or ignored because researchers’ experimental designs are based on pre-selected and specific aspects of cognition and behavior deemed to be of interest prior to the study. What more might be learned by challenging preconceived notions and common assumptions about cognition and behavior by advancing new theories and by using methods where it is possible to observe what behavior looks like in every day, real-world, dynamic contexts? With the Opportunity Awards, JSMF is seeking to fund projects leading to new conceptual and empirical studies of cognition and behavior that
- recognize the dynamic nature of cognition and behavior,
- are situated in real world contexts,
- cross levels of analysis,
- unite traditionally separate domains of inquiry (e.g. vision and speech),
- embrace complexity, and
- consider how behavior is influenced by interactions among individuals.
JSMF is encouraging researchers to pursue important questions using conceptual and methodological approaches that takes seriously the trajectories, biological and experiential, contributing to the ongoing development of cognition and behavior occurring across the lifespan. Individual projects need not cover the full human life span but the reasons for focusing on specific age ranges for study should be fully articulated. Research plans that only propose to document task performance of subjects at different ages (e.g., comparing 15-year-old subjects to 60-year-old subjects) are not responsive to the call for proposals.
The JSMF Opportunity Awards provide up to $250,000 in seed funds expendable over a flexible time period (between 2 and 4 years) as needed by researchers to design and carry out new studies motivated by questioning, revisiting, or re-examining the current state of academic knowledge of human cognition and behavior using a dynamic, context-sensitive lens. New theories, tools, and techniques have opened myriad opportunities for rigorously studying cognition and behavior as individuals engage in ongoing real-world activities in everyday life contexts in ways not previously possible. This call for proposals is focused on applications from researchers who are not now using the approaches described in this call for proposals, but who want to adopt this approach as an experimentally coherent way of conceptualizing, designing, and pursuing an understanding of human cognition and behavior.
Opportunity awards will not provide additional support for already established research programs. Such proposals will be triaged out early in the review process.
As a member of the Open Research Funders Group, JSMF supports and encourages the adoption of open science practices as stated in application guideline #6 below.
Applications must be submitted by an eligible institution (501c3, government instrumentality, or foreign equivalent) on behalf of researchers with full-time faculty positions or equivalent.
Priority will be given to applicants requesting funds:
- to support collaboration or to obtain training that allows new theories and new tools to alter the conduct of ongoing research.
- to provide a researcher with supported time while acquiring the new skills and knowledge to alter future research design.
- to pilot or test novel experimental approaches and to allow laboratories primarily using artificial laboratory constrained tasks to explore behavioral studies with more natural free flowing behaviors.
- to refine and extend the temporal dimension of data acquisition allowing for more dynamic assessments of how behavior unfolds over time.
- to diversify and expand study populations.
Requests for additional support for already established research studies or pre-existing programs will not be considered.
In order to be eligible for funding, it is expected that projects would commence before the end of 2021.