Research Projects – University of Copenhagen

English > Research Projects

Research Projects

Raising Awareness without Raising Fears

Project responsible: Asmus Leth Olsen and Martin Vinæs Larsen Project periode: September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018. Zeroing in on campaigns against burglaries, our project tries to understand whether raising awareness about how one can avoid being burglarized can have unintended consequences, and if so, how we can mitigate such consequences, so that we can raise awareness without raising fears. In doing so, we hope to further our understanding of how public information and the public psyche interacts, and develop some general lessons for practitioners, who want to design awareness campaigns without imposing negative unintended consequences. We focus on burglaries, because it is one of the types of crime which Danes are the most concerned about, and a type of crime for which there has been many information campaigns in recent years. The goal of this project is both to solve a concrete problem, specifically how we can improve information campaigns, but it also tries to advance our understanding of how the public information environment might affect the public psyche in hitherto unexplored ways. In particular, we will be able to make inferences about how whether discussing and informing people about risky outcomes changes their view about the likelihood of these outcomes occurring, and in turn, their general sense of safety and trust.

The psychology of the public sector: How Citizens Experience Public Services and What it Means to Public Sector Leaders

Project responsible: Asmus Leth Olsen Project periode: July 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017. In psychology counterfactual thinking is defined as mental representations of alternatives to past outcomes. In social psychology counterfactual thinking induce a causal-inference effect which enforce a link between some antecedent and the outcome via a counter-factual. It has argued that counterfactual thinking is both beneficial and functional. It highlight that our imagination not only produces wishful thinking but also allows us to evaluate reality against its alternative. Counterfactual thinking stimulates learning by helping us to link antecedents and outcomes. From a public administration point of view counterfactuals are of particular interest as they help form connections between antece-dents and outcomes in relation to public sector performance. The project applies a set of survey experiments to test the construction of counterfactuals affect citizens judgment about blame and responsibility by pointing at possible antecedents for the policy outcomes we observe. Clearly, in politics administrators and politicians will have great interests in affecting the salience of antecedents in order to avoid blame of gain praise. In a series of experiments I scrutinize how counterfactual thinking affects perceptions of performance in various settings.

Selection, Personal Motivation, and Corruption: Who works in the People Sector in the least Corrupt Country in the World?

Principal investigators: Asmus Leth Olsen, Frederik Hjorth, Nikolaj Harmon and Sebastian Barfort Project period: June 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017. Explaining variation in corruption across political systems is an important task. Recent research among developing countries finds that public employees are more willing to engage in corruption than private sector counterparts. The project investigates the link between corruption behavior and public employment in a Danish setting. Denmark is an interesting case as it enjoys some of the lowest levels of corruption globally. This is done via a number of innovative experimental studies which can measure indirect corruption behavior. We expect public-private differences in corruption behavior to be very different in Denmark than found elsewhere.