Hacking Your Mind: The Science of Personal Relevance

October 1st, 2015 - September 30th, 2018 | PROJECT

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. This media and research project will inform adult audiences about the discoveries of NSF funded Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) scientists that are dramatically re-shaping fields as diverse as economics, marketing, medicine and government. Four primetime PBS specials hosted by science reporter, Miles O'Brien, will be produced featuring leading SBE scientists and vetted for inclusion by a panel of expert advisors including Baruch Fischhoff of Carnegie Mellon and Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania. A key innovation in the project is a participatory research strategy that will enable the public to take part directly in scientific behavioral research and discover what their participation has revealed about their own lives. Built around YouTube features, Facebook, and online games it will build on the public's interest in learning about themselves and others via social media supported by scientific research. The project collaborators include the media company, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and researchers at Carnegie Mellon, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and Chapman University. This project is unique in its strategy for combining broadcast television programs focusing on Social, Behavioral, and Economics research with a participatory research component that engages audiences in scientific studies that are personally relevant. It will fill an important niche in the informal learning research literature and has the potential to impact media practice that continues to evolve incorporating new online social media tools. RMC will conduct formative evaluation to help inform the project deliverables, a summative evaluation of the project, and an experimental research study in Year 3 of the project. The research study is based on the hypothesis that those participants assigned to watch the entire television series and engage in all participatory research activities will experience the greatest gains in STEM interest and engagement as compared to those who only have limited exposure. Research participants will be randomly assigned to the control group (no services) or one of the three treatment conditions: view TV only; engage in participatory website only; or both. Pre-tests and posttests and statistical tools will be used to compare changes. Sub-studies will examine dosage levels and effectiveness in engaging those who have not previously been interested in STEM.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Poster - Hacking the Mind
Hacking Your Mind: Facebook Formative Evaluation
Hacking Your Mind Research Study Report

Team Members

David Davis, Principal Investigator, Oregon Public Broadcasting


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1515520
Funding Amount: 2430748


Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Media and Technology | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media