Local priorities research: what is it, who should consider doing it, and why

Thank you for writing this up. I strongly agree with this basic idea/approach (though that was based on a quick scan so I may not agree on all the details). As an organiser, I experienced a lot of people asking me about local jobs they might do and I didn't have easy answers.

Longer term I would like if there was something like the 80K jobs board (perhaps posted by 80k), but with a filter to focus in on specific regional areas. Perhaps this could be something where the local EA leads would provide the data and 80k would still do the broadcast (best to keep everything centralised, I think).

I like the google sheet you developed.

It might be good to see if you can get a few other group leads to do something similar to your sheet and collectively track the community response.

Anyway, that's all I have time to contribute for now. Keep up the great work!

Review: What works to promote charitable donations?

Based on the feedback, I think that a few people didn't realise that we have drafted a (50 page) preprint paper - the link above is just to the public summary. Sorry for not making that clearer!

Review: What works to promote charitable donations?

Hey Michael! The literature on "Framing even small contributions as helpful for achieving charitable aims" (referred to as 'Legitimizing Paltry contributions'/'LPC' in the literature ) suggests that the technique leads to similar contributions overall.

Here is what the relevant review states:

"To conduct this analysis, we calculated total donation amounts for both experimental and control
groups from 10 research reports representing 18 comparisons (U.S. samples only) and
a total of 2,054 participants. Care was taken to ensure donation totals were adjusted to
reflect an equal number of participants in the LPC and control conditions for each
study. Because our observations of these data were at the study level (e.g., total amount
contributed in the LPC and control conditions), it was not possible to use traditional
meta-analytic techniques to test for differences. Instead, we examined differences
using a paired t test with the experimental and control condition donation totals from
a given study each representing one data point. The difference between the donation
totals for experimental (M = 49.07, SD = 49.68) and control conditions (M = 46.04,
SD = 57.01) was not statistically significant, t(17) = .41, p = .69 (two-tailed)."

Here is their summary of related prior research:

"The results from studies that have examined the effects of LPC on donation size are
mixed. Whereas the findings from some research reports show that legitimizing paltry
contributions decreases donation amounts (e.g., Reeves et al., 1987; Shearman & Yoo,
2007), others show that the tactic does not affect charitable contributions (e.g., Cialdini
& Schroeder, 1976; Weyant, 1984; Weyant & Smith, 1987) or even increases them
(e.g., Dolinska & Dolinski, 2014; Dolinski et al., 2005)."

Let me know if you want a copy of the paper.

A central directory for open research questions

Thanks so much for this! I am keen to discuss this when Covid-19 has passed. I have some ideas and see opportunities for collaboration. EdoArad - I would love to talk with you too at that time. For context, I am one of the people involved in READI which is led by EA volunteers and seeking to tackle high impact/EA aligned research questions. This is our current project, you can see other work here.

Opportunity to support a Covid19 related survey collaboration

Big updates

  • We finished collecting the first wave of data.
  • We just had our first media coverage. Please have a read!
  • We now have over 100 people involved in the collaboration!

What we are spending most of our time on

  • Seeking funding for the next waves of data collection and further work (we are still basically doing as volunteer work in addition to our paid work time)
    • Both for AU data and overseas data, hopefully
  • Follow up interviews, discussions and media related work.
  • Finishing reports to share with local and AU policy makers. We have a few tiny fixes to do tomorrow then they should be good to go.
  • Exploring how to collaborate with the two other major ongoing surveys (see here for a comparison across projects). We had one meeting with the Australian lead of iCare and are arranging a second.
  • Collecting ideas for changes to make for wave 2 of data collection.

If you are interested in helping then please join here.

Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs
I think this is a good idea in the abstract, but I would be especially wary of starting "yet another aggregator" right now... I think we should use the LW links database which already has momentum.

Yes, I agree. To be clear though, one issue now (I suspect) is that you can't trust the LW links database to be updated with all the key papers on a topic, nor can you search it to find these paper or use it to easily cite those papers. A Mendeley database could do that and in less than a days work. It would only be of use for 'serious' research though so not sure if needed. I also don't have the capacity to do anything to make such a database nor does anyone who could I suspect!

For now, perhaps the LW links database could benefit from someone with research knowledge setting up something to alert them to the latest research as it comes in? I could probably set something something that emails me the latest results from a search (e.g., (Covid-19 OR...) AND (vaccinat* OR ...)) and then forward that to someone involved. Of course this may already be happening - I haven't been able to pay much attention. If this is useful, then let me know and I will look into it.

Definitely. I think you have been in touch a bit with Derek and David on that. My understanding is it could definitely help but we are funding constrained on the data collection as are you. I shared your opportunity in my 29 March Brief.

Yes, they have been very helpful! Thanks for sharing. We will see if we can get more funding for this and if we do then we could potentially pay for that data collection.

Coronavirus Research Ideas for EAs

Thanks for sharing, this is a pretty incredible list. The bar for good EA work just keeps on rising.

I have gratitude fatigue from all the people/efforts I am grateful for :)

For 3 - I think that shared Mendeley databases, are a good choice for synthesising and sharing research. New research is suggested, the web clipper makes it easy to add and the shared group mean that many people can contribute. It can also be combined with research updates from Scopus etc. I do one for Behaviourworks (my employer) for behaviour change research - see here for an update. I am happy to explain how to do it if 3+ people comment that they expect they would probably benefit it.

For 13/18 - Thanks for the mention of our project - maybe we can collaborate on getting UK data?

We just collected our first set of Australian data (n=1000) for an open science project. We aim to help policymakers with decision making about how to allocate resources to tackle Covid-19.

We doing something quite different from other ongoing surveys. Most of these are about country level comparisons and not about understanding behavioural drivers. For example, we can report things by location and demographic, but also why people are not doing the behaviours, e.g.,

  • 75% of males between 30 and 40 are social distancing but only 50% of males between 20-30.
  • At only 55% adherence, the inner west region reports the lowest amount of social distancing. The main capability barriers are commuting and desire to see friends.
  • 97% of those surveyed are always washing their hands, suggesting that this need no longer be a key communication target.
  • Maroubra shows the lowest levels of life satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety
  • Compared to the previous week, emotional concern and risk perception have increased significantly, the population thinks more about Corona and searches for information more often.
  • Chronically ill people have a higher risk perception and need special support to protect themselves effectively.
  • The four biggest concerns are health system overload, small business filing for bankruptcy, recession and society becoming more selfish. Measures and information by the government can create security here; Reports of projects based on solidarity may encourage imitation and can reduce social fears.

The list of the 40 or so people currently involved is here.

If anyone would like to know more, take the survey, or help, then please read the following and check the links (copied and pasted to save time - hope that is ok - I am near exhaustion :P!):

Invitation letter

Dear X,

I am part of an open science research collaboration creating an international and continuously-updated dataset to help government and public health officials make better decisions to tackle Covid-19.

Existing COVID-19 related surveys are less optimised for providing immediate actionable insights to policy makers, such as the differences in adherence to key protective behaviours, and the barriers preventing people from performing these behaviours, and how these differ by postcode or demographic. Such data is therefore critical for efficient resource allocation but not currently available.

Building on the COSMO project, a WHO/Europe initiative - we will conduct a “living survey” -- with both repeated cross-sectional and longitudinal sampling -- running throughout the pandemic, to track relevant protective behaviours, their variations by demographic and location, and their determinants.

After each wave of data collection, we will generate and disseminate an updated report about the prevalence of protective behaviours, their most important drivers or barriers, and a break-down by demographics. As we collect more waves, we will be able to visualise trends over time.

We will also test the effectiveness of different interventions at encouraging relevant behaviours. Here are some examples of the types of outputs that we will be able to produce.

We have just started collecting the first wave of data.

Please consider joining us in collaboration. You can contribute by:

  • Helping to disseminate the survey via social networks or panel data.
  • Reaching and helping policy makers in your country with the data we collect
  • Helping to modify our report template to provide useful and interesting information to policy makers.
  • Developing reports and doing analysis for policy makers
  • Providing us with feedback based on your discussion data collection
  • Helping with write up and dissemination when we seek to publish this work

If you contribute to this project in any significant way then you will be recognised on all outputs and be an author on any subsequent paper. The bar for recognition will be relatively low (perhaps ~5 hours of work).

The data we collect and share will not only be invaluable to current policy and decision making but will also provide insights that help to prevent suffering and death.

You can take the survey here [Add your personal link]?Firstname_Lastname_EMAIL

You can join the collaboration here

Best wishes,


Requesting support for the StandAgainstCorona pledge

The website is now public and live and over 500 people have already signed. Here are some good reasons to help promote it in my opinion (and why I took time off work to help with it):

Changes in behavior are critical for slowing and managing the spread of viruses and disease. Small behaviour changes such as promoting social distancing can have a huge impact on reducing the number of people who get infected. This graphic explains it very well.

Even small commitments (such as pledges) can significantly increase behaviour change.      

Seeing what other people do is one of the most powerful and important drivers of behaviour.    

By making it easier to broadcast behaviour and preferences, social media platforms enable us to reach and influence millions of people with a few shares and in turn enables those people to easily influence many others with just a click of a button.

As an example, within 24 hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet about #MeToo, 45% of facebook users had heard about it  - billions of people.

Imagine the effect of one person making important changes to their behaviour - already large - but now multiplied across millions of other people doing the same because they have seen others pledge and share. It could be hugely positive.

So please, think of all the people you love, and all the people others love, and take and share the pledge. We can't save everyone from suffering and dying from this terrible virus but we can hopefully save some of them. And even if we don't succeed we should surely try.

Are there good EA projects for helping with COVID-19?

[Please disregard this comment for now - we are going to take more time to finalise the pledge before we seek support]

Helping to support and disseminate distribute a viral social contract (i.e., a pledge) to coordinate collective action against the Coronavirus might be one option to consider.

Please see this document for the project background and the current working draft for the pledge.

Please fill this form if you want to help us to distribute the pledge during and after launch (the 11th to 13th of March).

I really think that this is a case where leveraging EA networks can have a very positive social impact.

Taking and sharing the pledge will protect you, your family and your community but also the wider world and future generations. It will also help us to collect useful data about the best way to promote pledges and safety related behaviour.

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