Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl


Round 1 Spring 2020

How do you talk to yourself when you are exercising? An interference experiment

  • Johanne Nedergård, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics
  • Seednumber: 26205
  • Collaborators: Mikkel Wallentin (LICS, AU) and Mark Schram Christensen (KU)


This experiment aims to test the role of top-down, linguistic control in physical efforts as exemplified by endurance cycling. We hypothesize that inner speech (also known as self-talk) plays a crucial self-regulatory role in control of sustained physical efforts. This can be tested by comparing athletic performance when people are distracted by a linguistic concurrent task to when they are distracted by a nonlinguistic concurrent task. We predict that if you are unable to use the phonological loop to “talk” to yourself while running or cycling, this will have a detrimental effect on your performance. In the present experiment, participants will be asked to cycle 1-minute intervals interspersed with 1-minute rest intervals while they perform either verbal or visuospatial working memory tasks. Participants will also be asked to fill out an adapted version of the Automatic Self-Talk Questionnaire for Sports (Zourbanos et al., 2009) to assess the content and function of their general sports-related self-talk. If participants perform worse on the physical aspect of the experiment on verbal distraction trials compared with on visuospatial distraction and control trials, this would indicate that the linguistic resources occupied by the concurrent rehearsal task usually otherwise facilitate selfregulation and control of sustained efforts.   

Local vs. global norms – studying factors governing interpersonal dynamics of ethical decision making

  • Simon Karg, Department of Management
  • Seednumber: 26206
  • Collaborators: Panos Mitkidis (Dept. of Management)



Collaboration is undoubtedly one of the most essential requirements to a successful society. Yet, humans do not only collaborate for good, but also for immoral reasons. Researchers investigating these types of “dark collaborations” have speculated that one important mechanism driving this phenomenon is that local norms of collaboration overpower global norms of honesty. For instance, people can justify their immoral behavior by using collaboration norms, since being a partner in crime also means being a good collaborator. In this project, we are aiming to shed light on the effect of such local norms and their interaction with more global norms within dark collaborations. In particular, we are asking how local norms of dishonesty emerge and proliferate through a network of groups, potentially affecting global norms. To do so, we are planning to conduct online experiments with multiple groups of people interacting in real time. These empirical results will be accompanied with agent-based modelling that will help theory building and inform future studies. In addition, our studies will create important know-how on how to collect behavioral, human interaction data in times when data collection in the laboratory is hindered.

Does attitude congruency influence allocation of attention to political information?

  • Filip Kiil, Department of Political Science
  • Seednumber: 26207
  • Collaborators: 


When political information happens to be right in front of us, do we pay more attention to it if it supports our attitudes, or if it challenges them? We know from existing research that citizens seek situations containing attitude-congruent information and avoid situations containing attitude incongruent information. However, once political information is in front of us, we do not know how its attitude congruency influences how much attention we pay to it. I investigate this in a laboratory experiment (n=200). Participants watch a series of videos conveying both political and non-political information at the same time. I use eye tracking and traditional survey methods to measure attention payed to the political information. Attitude congruency of the political information is randomized, allowing a clean test of the influence of attitude congruency of political information on attention allocation.

The “Other” Pathway

  • Ole Adrian Heggli, Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, AU
  • Seednumber: 26208
  • Collaborators: Peter Vuust (MiB, AU) and Morten Kringelbach, University of Oxford


Human are highly adept at coordinating movements, an ability that is especially apparent in joint music making. Here, movements must be coordinated precisely both within and between performers to achieve the synchronization necessary for a successful musical performance. In simplified joint music making paradigms, such as finger tapping, previous studies consistently show that interacting dyads use different synchronization strategies. These strategies are defined not by measures of synchronization, but rather by the flow of adaptation between interacting people. In previous work we identify the process of self-other integration as a likely underpinning of these strategies. By self-other integration we mean how an individual integrate, or segregate, information stemming from their interacting partner (the “other”) with their own actions (the “self”). This project aims to quantify differences in the neural processing of self- and other-related information in rhythmic joint action. We wish to identify when, during joint finger tapping, information from the tapping partner is used to influence one’s own tapping, and where this occurs in the brain. Our results will contribute to uncovering the dynamics governing the social brain.

Artificial agents and semantic change: developing a computational framework for agent-based dialogue research

  • Kristian Tylén, School of Communication and Culture
  • Seednumber: 26209
  • Collaborators: Roberta Rocca (University of Texas at Austin) and Ivana Konvalinka (DTU)


Dialogue is the most fundamental form of language use. Through dialogue, languages continuously develop in adaptive response to biological, cognitive, socio-cultural, and environmental factors. While several existing studies shed light on the cultural mechanisms that shape the evolution linguistic forms, we know less about the mechanisms continuously changing the landscapes of meaning. This process is hard to study in a systematic and quantitative fashion as longitudinal corpora of conversations are sparse and extremely costly to produce, transcribe and annotate. This project has a double purpose: i) to create a computational framework for agent-based simulations of dialogue in a language community, which leverage state-of-the-art language models and overcome limitations in resource availability for natural conversations; ii) investigating how semantic landscapes dynamically change over time as a function of factors such as intra-community diversity and network structure. The project will take advantage of large open source corpora of film subtitles to construct conversing agents with rich and varied vocabularies. Diversity is operationalized as agents being fine-tuned on different sub-corpora (i.e. film genres). At the community level, parameters such as the degree of connectedness of interacting agents can be manipulated. The study can shed new light on the dynamic evolution of meaning, while the computational framework will also be turned into a Python package available for other researchers interested in the systematic study of mechanisms of dialogue.    

Music for social convergence in times of spatial distancing

  • Niels Chr. Hansen, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies & Center for Music in the Brain, AU
  • Seednumber: 26210
  • Collaborators: Mette Terp Høybye (IMC, Dept. of Clinical Medicine), Claire Howlin (University College Dublin), Will Randall (University of Jyväskylä) and Lindsay Warrenburg (independent music scholar and data scientist, New Jersey)


The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity for an ecologically valid mass experiment on the effects of social quarantine on human music making. Indeed, spreading with higher contagion rates than the corona virus itself, thousands of music videos with #coronasongs, #quarantunes, #covidance, #pandemix, and #songsofcomfort proliferated online as a testament to the powers of music as a "biotechnology of group formation". In times of crisis, music can provide comfort, fight loneliness, and unify diverse human communities despite physical barriers imposed by spatial distancing measures. This seed project aims to document and thoroughly investigate the multitude of ways in which music was used and experienced during the COVID-19 quarantine. A range of methodological approaches—including qualitative text analysis, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, music information retrieval, and survey statistics—will be applied to one or more newly collected corpora. We will attempt to source relevant data from: (i) a Danish national diary study with free text responses, (ii) a crowd-sourced database of music videos, hashtags, and media coverage, (iii) a self-report survey on musical behaviour, emotional strategies, and the functional uses of music, (iv) an Android app using experience sampling to asses personal music listening, and (v) social media posts from platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. It is expected that the collected data will be consistent with the social cohesion and social surrogacy hypotheses according to which music has served to consolidate and maintain social bonds despite physical distance throughout the course of human evolution.

Social influences on venture ideation through changes in opportunity confidence: An experimental mediation approach

  • Martin Wurzer, Department of Management
  • Seednumber: 26211
  • Collaborators: Carsten Bergenholtz (Department of Management), Michael Andreas Zaggl (Department of Management) and Kenneth Nygaard (Department of Management)


A driving force of venture idea development is the ideators´ confidence in the viability of the venture idea (i.e., opportunity confidence; Dimov, 2010; Davidsson, 2015). However, this process seldom takes place in isolation (Dimov, 2007). Receiving positive (affirmation) and negative (refutation) cues from the social environment might trigger changes in confidence levels and, in turn, affect further idea development. For example, affirmation might boost confidence and, in turn, motivate minor refinement of the existing idea, while avoiding to make major changes. Conversely, refutation might lead to lower levels of confidence, which motivates major idea revisions. Extremely low levels of confidence, however, might also cause the ideator to stop working on the idea altogether (McMullen & Shepherd, 2006).

  While research on new venture development has drawn upon social network components (e.g. Gemmell et al, 2011), less focus has been on a) to what degree environmental signals influence the process of idea revision, and b) to what degree this influence may depend on the ideators’ opportunity confidence. We take a socio-cognitive perspective on ideation, aiming to advance the field by focusing specifically on social influences and the impact of subsequent differences in cognitive states on idea development (Shepherd, 2015). By utilizing a manipulation-of-mediator design and natural language processing (Pirlott & MacKinnon, 2016; Jurafsky & Martin, 2009), we investigate the relationship between positive and negative environmental signals and venture idea revision, mediated by the ideator´s opportunity confidence level.    

Towards a Neuroscience of Phenomenological Experience 1.

  • Daina Crafa, IMC, School of Culture and Society
  • Seednumber: 26212
  • Collaborators: Andreas Roepstorff (IMC and Dept. of Clinical Medicine), Rebekah Baglini (Linguistics), Esben Kran (Cognitive Science and Asger Lakkenborg Christiansen (Cognitive Science)


Neuroanthropology is a compelling theoretical approach to studying human culture x brain dynamics that does not yet have an established methodology. The reason is because the relationship between brain states and complex social stimuli is not well established. This project will use an exciting new neuroimaging devices (fNIRS) to examine neural activation during phenomenological experiences of complex social stimuli. This project will provide a foundation that systematic neuroanthropological methods can be built upon.

Vaccination: pro, con and in-between. A cross-linguistic and cross-cultural qualitative interview study on discourse patterns

  • Alexandra R. Kratschmer, Linguistics, Cog. Science & Semiotics
  • Seednumber: 26213
  • Collaborators: Marie Louise Tørring (Anthropology), Ana P. Braga Matos (Linguistics, Cog. Science & Semiotics), Byurakn Ishkhanyan (Linguistics, Cognitive Science & Semiotics and Rebekah B. Baglini  (Linguistics, Cog. Science & Semiotics)


Recently there has been an outbreak of preventable infectious diseases, such as measles and pertussis, in parts of Brazil, the United States, and Europe. The outbreak has been associated with vaccine hesitancy, which is generally regarded as amplified through citizen-to-citizen communication on social media platforms and often associated with conspiracy thinking. Sub- projects of a larger project on this phenomenon have already studied aspects of the use of causal language in anti-vaccination online language (e.g. the use of counterfactual language: … would not have happened), as well as an experimental study testing the influence of both sender (doctor vs. mother-of-three) and language style (scientific/nuanced vs. “conspirational”/simplifying) on test subjects in an intervention study, which found that the intervention lowered the level of perceived dangers of vaccines, but did not affect conspiracy beliefs or vaccination intentions. Qualitative studies of social media posts for Italian and Brazilian Portuguese data are under preparation. The planned study adds another angle to the investigation: it will allow us to collect more extensive data stemming from an individual informant regarding vaccination-related narratives, causal and counterfactual reasoning, epistemic authority negotiation as well as membership categorization. In the dialogue, real- time adaptation of argumentative as well as negotiation strategies might be observed. This could also render differences between the spoken dialogue and online language evident and thereby indirectly highlight the particularities of the online vaccination discourse. Furthermore, questions about a hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine will be asked. Therefore, we also expect more data on counterfactual expressions. Being built upon a subject pool from Denmark, Italy, Armenia and Brazil, the study will furthermore shed light on cross-linguistic and cross-cultural differences of this discourse.

Insights into changes and antecedents of consumers’ IoT adoption and use

  • Rebekah Baglini, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics
  • Seednumber: 26214
  • Collaborators:  Marco Hubert (Department of Management),  Shahab Kazemi (Department of Management) and Markus Blut (Aston University, UK)     


In the age of the internet of things (IoT), the presence of smart devices in everyday life is rapidly growing. This poses new challenges to owners that need to adjust to the promising new technologies. In addition, organizations have to adjust their products in relations to other products to provide more value than they do alone. Both customers and organizations have to deal with and adapt to these transformational digital shifts. Nevertheless, while this development creates potential opportunities for companies and customers, it will also induce major theoretical and business-related challenges, which are mainly associated with the technological possibilities and consumer behavior with regard to IoT.

To address these challenges, this interdisciplinary project will use structural equation modelling and natural language processing (NLP) (i.e., text mining, web scraping, topic modeling) to discover emerging concepts of user behavior, interdependencies and human-object relationships, which in consequence could be applied to IoT use in general.    

The naturalness of thought transmission - Do humans share a particular intuition about how to mentally send thoughts to a receiver?

  • Uffe Schjødt, Dept. of the Study of Religion
  • Seednumber: 26215
  • Collaborators: Michiel van Elk (University of Amsterdam)


Do humans share a particular intuition about how to mentally send thoughts to a receiver? Inner speech is usually considered private, yet cultures around the world assume that inner speech can sometimes be transmitted through the skull.  Perhaps best known from paranormal psychology as telepathy, such beliefs exist in both secular and religious contexts. A recent version is beliefs in facilitated thought transmission by means of decoding technologies in the neurosciences. In a religious context, Christians routinely share and actively negotiate metacognitive thoughts with God in prayer. We propose to study if humans approach thought transmission in similar ways across different versions of telepathic practices, by examining the neural correlates of two instances of thought transmission.     

Round 2 Summer 2020

Climate Change Threat and Intergroup Relations

  • Mathias Osmundsen, Department of Political Science
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators:  Sadi Shanaah (University of Warwick) and Immo Fritsche (University of Leipzig)  


Large scale environmental crises often incite conflict among people directly affected by them. For example, severe droughts lead people to fight over scarce water resources. However, emerging research shows that climate change threat can provoke social conflict even among people not personally harmed by the consequences of a changing climate. Thus, simply reminding relatively affluent Westerners about the abstract dangers of  future climate change is often sufficient to fuel ethnocentrism, authoritarianism and derogation of deviant social groups such as drug dealers. This projects advances current knowledge by investigating the impact of the perceived climate change threat on the relationship between the social majority and ethnic/religious minorities as well as climate refugees in the West. Moreover, it investigates how individuals‘ political worldviews moderate this impact. The project accomplishes the goals through an innovative experimental research design (three online survey experiments in US, UK and Germany) that draws on theories from social psychology and political science.    

Effects of Hunger on Unethical Economic Behaviour

  • Christian Truelsen Elbæk, Department of Management    
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators: Panagiotis Mitkidis (Department of Management, Lene Aarøe (Department of Political Science and Tobias Otterbring (Department of Management)



Unethical economic behavior cost our society huge losses, every year. Resource scarcity have been argued to make people more prone to engage in economic cheating, but scientific evidence is lacking. By using novel methods, this study examines how resource constrained individuals make moral decisions. Specifically, we investigate how resource restricted individuals act in an economic choice task that incentivizes unethical behavior. Resource restriction is manipulated by depleting participants of food and then administering a highly validated task for measuring dishonesty.  We measure blood-glucose levels of all participants at three time points as well as their childhood SES, self-control and moral identity. We hypothesize that hungry individuals will act in a more unethical way than satiated individuals, and that this effect will be moderated by childhood SES, self-control and moral identity. The research contributes to a systematic understanding of moral decision-making of resource deprived individuals, which has vital implications for policy-makers in understanding and possibly alleviating a series of problems stemming from poverty and inequality.

Round 3 Autumn 2020

On the Ethics of Scarcity: A Meta-Analysis

  • Christian T. Elbæk, Department of Management,
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators: 


Unethical economic behaviors, such as fraud, corruption and embezzlement, cost societies billions of dollars every year. Recently, scholars have started to investigate how experiences of material scarcity influence people’s propensity to engage in immoral economic behavior. This line of research is part of a growing literature on the behavioral and psychological consequences of material scarcity, but is characterized by mixed findings and inconsistent conclusions. This also give rise to new debates on how material scarcity affects decision-making more generally. However, at present, this stream of research has been relatively detached from the larger literature on how depletion of self-regulatory resources influences individuals’ decisions, preferences, and behavioral responses. Consequently, we propose the first meta-analysis synthesizing the literatures on the effects of material scarcity and self-regulatory resources, respectively, on moral economic behavior. Our results should provide an overview of how material resource scarcity affects moral economic behavior and hence serve as theoretical foundation for future research in the area.

The Effect of Product Aesthetics on Recycling Behavior

  • Ada Maria Barone, Department of Management
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators: 


Despite the sustainability-related benefits of a circular economy, consumers are still reluctant to engage in practices such as recycling, even though this is a crucial step. For instance, product containers and packaging make up the largest portion of solid waste generated. Only 40 percent of waste is being reused or recycled in the EU. The percentage of packaging being recycled has been stagnating in the US in recent years. While prior research has shed light on the psychological factors influencing recycling decisions, less is known about how characteristics of the product itself affect consumers’ recycling intentions. We extend knowledge on this topic by investigating how product aesthetics (high vs. low) affects consumers’ likelihood of recycling a product. Building on literature about the effect of product aesthetics on consumers’ perception and behavior, and drawing from research on perception of psychological ownership, we hypothesize that consumers are more likely to recycle high aesthetically appealing products than low aesthetically appealing ones, because of higher perceived psychological ownership of the product. This research contributes to the understanding of the psychological underpinning of consumers’ wasteful behaviors and provides useful suggestions for policy makers and companies aiming to foster consumers’ sustainable behaviors.

Developing a Framework for Digital Joint Action

  • Cordula Vestper, School of Communication and Culture
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators


This project aims to develop a framework to characterize joint action in digital environments such as the virtual worlds of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Digital Joint Action is proposed to maintain many known elements of physical, real-world joint action such as forming joint goals along with individual subgoals, predicting and monitoring others’ behavior, distributing tasks along specific roles, etc. However, in contrast to social interaction in the real world, joint actions performed online come with a unique additional feature: Digital joint action is mediated through (more or less vividly visualized) avatars, that imply particular personas that are controlled by the individual users but also come with their own skills and action abilities. This makes digital joint action a highly promising research field as it allows to investigate the cognitive principles of joint action that lie outside of the constraints of human physicality but are nevertheless embodied (i.e. in a virtual body). This project will specify commonalities and differences between joint actions in the real world and digital joint actions in virtual worlds to provide a framework for further research. Moreover, using a questionnaire study among users of two popular MMORPGs, Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft, we aim to supplement the theoretical framework with empirical validation for particular hypotheses derived from it.

NaturalLanguageProcessing4All (NLP4All)

  • Rebekah Brita Baglini, IMC
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators: 


Natural Language Processing offers new insights into language data across almost all disciplines and domains, and allows us to corroborate and/or challenge existing knowledge. The primary hurdle to widening participation in and use of these new research tools is a lack of coding skills in students across K-16, and in the population at large. To broaden participation in NLP and improve NLP-literacy, this project takes a design-based research approach to designing NLP-tools for non-programmers. The project will identify a small set of core NLP-concepts and design and assess a technology-based classroom intervention to teach these methods to a wider audience consisting primarily of non- or novice-programmers.

Pride branding: Is there a reward at the rainbow’s end?

  • Raian Razal, Department of Management
  • Seednumber: 
  • Collaborators: 



With increasing pressure for brands to stand up for societal issues, how should brands frame their messaging strategies with regards to the LGBTQ+ Pride Movement to avoid backfire effects and balance the interests of both consumers and the companies? This research combines both experimental survey and online field experiments.

The experiment survey compares 2 Pride branding frames (protest-focused vs celebration-focused) across different product categories in order to determine consumer brand attitude between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ consumers. Drawing from the identity relevance principle, it is predicted that sexual orientation will moderate the effects of brand messaging such that LGBTQ+ (non-LGBTQ+) consumers will report more positive attitudinal evaluations for protest (celebration) frames. This will be succeeded by field experiments in social media to allow for an ecologically valid investigation.