ERC Proof of Concept grants for VU researchers

Nienke van Atteveldt, professor of neuroscience and society at VU Amsterdam, and Tieme Janssen, an associate professor, have received a Proof of Concept (PoC) grant of 150,000 euros from the European Research Council (ERC) for the project Explore Your Brain 2.0. Sociologist Dimitris Pavlopoulos has received it for the project COMBINE.

Nienke van Atteveldt and Tieme Janssen

Nienke van Atteveldt and Tieme Janssen are leading the Explore Your Brain 2.0 project, which aims to develop a maximally effective, user-friendly, and scalable growth mindset intervention to break through the declining motivation and academic performance of adolescents. This PoC subsidy is based on the ERC Starting Grant "BRAINBELIEFS," in which the research team discovered that allowing students to experience the plasticity of their brains can stimulate a growth mindset.
Van Atteveldt stated, "Adolescence is a period of sharp declines in school motivation and performance, with negative consequences not only for the academic success and mental well-being of young people but also for teachers and parents."

Dimitris Pavlopoulos

Measurement uncertainty in socioeconomic data may hinder effective policy making. Correcting for measurement uncertainty, could result in an improved picture of how social phenomena evolve in time. COMBINE explores whether a statistical model (a so-called hidden Markov model) could assist Statistics Netherlands (CBS) to correct for measurement uncertainty in the production of official statistics on social assistance benefits. Practically, the statistical model triangulates information from two different sources (the municipal register and the Employment register). COMBINE thus explores the feasibility of producing model-based error-corrected statistics by National Statistical Institutes. An important question is whether COMBINE will be more efficient than the current practices of data-quality improvement that are currently applied.

COMBINE is carried out by VU Amsterdam in collaboration with Statistics Netherlands and, in particular, with its Department of Demographic and Socioeconomic Statistics. COMBINE results in a proof of concept for official statistics on social assistance benefits corrected for measurement uncertainty. The method that COMBINE explores is not restricted to social assistance benefits. COMBINE delivers an implementation plan for other official statistics and a dissemination plan for approaching policymakers and other users of the statistics. As the method is applicable to a wide range of topics, the project contributes to evidence-based policy-making.