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Social scientists worldwide collaborate on COVID-19

Friday, April 3, 2020 - 11:01am
Alan Flurry

More than 100 international social scientists are working together to collect immediate and longitudinal information on the key social science factors that might predict the spread of COVID-19. The project, known as PsyCorona, will pair social and data scientists to connect data across multiple layers—individual survey reports from 10,000-plus participants from more than nine countries, satellite data documenting social distancing, and World Health Organization data on county-level spread of the disease.

The project will use a survey at to capture data prior to increasing spread.

University of Georgia associate professor of psychology Michelle VanDellen is assisting in coordinating the various research projects. She will connect and facilitate teams that are interpreting data across the multiple levels.

“We want to know how COVID-19 affects different people and cultures, and to mobilize our teams of behavioral scientists to identify targets for rapid intervention to slow the spread of the pandemic and minimize its social damage,” VanDellen said.

Scientists for the team are operating on a largely volunteer basis. After learning about the project, many reached out to contribute their expertise and time.

The operation is led by Pontus Leander at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and Jocelyn Belanger at NYU Abu Dhabi. Groningen and NYU Abu Dhabi provide scientific, strategic and operational guidance, but researchers operate autonomously in their own countries. To ensure global representation and accessibility, researchers are translating the survey into multiple languages.


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