Research and Funding

Division of Behavioral and Social Research

Featured Reports

  • Butler-Williams Scholars Program 2015
    July 27, 2015 to July 31, 2015

    2014 Butler Williams Scholars and N I A facultyMeeting Description

  • Network on Reversibility Meeting
    October 14, 2013 to October 15, 2013

    The third and final Network on Reversibility meeting was held on October 14th and 15th, 2013 in London, UK.  This workshop was hosted by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) with support from the National Institute on Aging.  Meeting participants concluded a two year survey of a range of human and animal studies that a) clarified the observed links between early pre and postnatal adversity and adult health; b) suggested both psychological and biological mechanisms that accounted for these links and c) indicated directions for adult internventions that might diminish the risk of early adversity...

  • On May 22, 2013, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), NIH, in collaboration with the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the Association for Psychological Science (APS), convened a meeting of eminent scientists from the fields of psychology and behavioral economics.  The presentations highlighted the potential for social and behavioral research to play a more influential role in the service of public policy, discuss strategies for bringing important research findings to the attention of policy makers

  • Positive Psychobiology
    March 12, 2013 to March 13, 2013

    There is increasing recognition that positive psychological functioning (PPF; including constructs such as optimism, positive emotions, and social connectedness) influences health above and beyond negative psychological functioning (including constructs such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness). Most research on the relationship between PPF and markers of health to date has focused on deteriorative biological processes and related health outcomes. Significantly less is known about restorative biological processes that may underlie health-relevant aspects of PPF.

  • Links between early prenatal and postnatal adverse experiences and physical and mental health in late adulthood have become well established.  Animal and human studies suggest that some of these risk persistence mechanisms are malleable. In fact, preventive interventions well into adult life may blunt or even reverse their negative effect on trajectories of health in aging individuals.

  • The National Institute on Aging (NIA) commissioned the Committee on National Statistics to convene an expert meeting to advise the NIA on approaches to identifying eligible participants aged 51 to 56 years old in 2016 for the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Traditional methods of screening households for the HRS have been expensive; identifying individuals from a narrow age band and recruiting statistically meaningful samples of Hispanic and black minorities are two key cost drivers during previous waves of screening.

  • On September 10–11, 2012, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) convened a diverse team of experts to launch its Network on Reversibility. The purpose of the Network is to define the scope of future research initiatives and to marshal a trans-disciplinary approach in the development of such programs. The members of the Network will combine their expertise to develop new ideas on how to test the hypothesis that harmful effects of early environmental adversity can be reversed in adulthood.

  • Expert Meeting, June 18-19, 2012, The National Academies. The purpose of this meeting was to bring together select individuals with expertise in behavioral interventions, motivation theory, aging and life course development, and personality psychology to discuss how to apply knowledge and approaches from these fields to successful interventions to increase motivation in aging populations and improve aging outcomes.

  • Issues of research integrity and the replication of research findings are central concerns in all disciplines. These issues in the social and behavioral sciences have been receiving a great deal of recent attention. Current discussions have focused on strengthening the role of replication in advancing scientific knowledge, and recognizing and correcting false-positive results.

  • On November 29–30, 2011, BSR convened a workshop to explore harmonization strategies for behavioral, social science, and genetic research. The workshop brought together harmonization experts, principal investigators on harmonization projects, and staff from BSR, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development.

  • The Workshop on the Use of Well-being Measures in Policy Analysis was held November 2nd and 3rd, 2011, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The event was co-sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Brookings Institution, and was co-chaired by Lisbeth Nielsen of the NIA and Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution.

  • The National Institute on Aging (NIA) Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) is actively involved in the effort to fully understand and plan for the emerging costs of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  This teleconference featured presentations by Peter Neumann and Pei-Jung Lin (Tufts Medical Center) on “Costs and Cost-Effectiveness in Alzheimer’s Disease” based on modeling of Medicare claims data, and by Michael Hurd (RAND Corporation) on “The Costs of Dementia” based on data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and The Aging, Demographics,

  • The goal of the conference call was to discuss gaps and themes that emerged at the NAS meeting held in September 2010, paying particular attention to how adding genetics to social surveys might be used to revise behavioral and social theory.

  • Population Genetics Conference Call for the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) was held as a follow-up to an expert meeting was held on September 23-24th of 2010 to discuss using GWAS to explore fundamental questions about aging in the HRS. There were no experts in population genetics able to attend the original meeting, so this call was convened to explore the potential work that can be done in this area.

  • The second of two planned conferences convened by the Committee on Population (CPOP) at the National Academies of Science.  This conference, organized in conjunction with the Indian National Science Academy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, and Science Council of Japan and supported by NIA, assembled leading scientists to present the latest trends in population aging in Asia, to discuss the potential for greater international collaboration and to engage senior Asian policymakers and planners in dialogue.  A NAS publication, Aging in Asia:

  • Stress Measurement Meeting
    February 2, 2011 to February 3, 2011

    The Stress Measurement Meeting held on February 2nd and 3rd, 2011, at the University of California, San Francisco, brought together speakers from several disciplines, including psychology, epidemiology, economics, gerontology, and population health to consider best approaches to psychosocial stress measurement for population based surveys of aging. The workshop participants presented research spanning laboratory to population health studies of stress.

  • Conscientiousness and Healthy Aging Workshop
    January 6, 2011 to January 7, 2011

    Recent research has verified that personality traits predict a range of outcomes in aging including health, longevity, economic security and general well-being. In the field of aging research one of these five, conscientiousness, stands out as a singularly striking predictor, often over many years, of important health and economic outcomes for aging individuals. Research to date has been of good quality and many important findings have been replicated.

  • The first of two planned conferences convened by the Committee on Population (CPOP) at the National Academies of Science.  This conference, organized in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, and Science Council of Japan and supported by NIA, assembled leading scientists to present the latest trends in population aging in Asia, to discuss the potential for greater international collaboration and to engage senior Asian policymakers and planners in dialogue.  A NAS publication, Aging in Asia: F

  • The U.S. National Institute on Aging, in collaboration with the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council commissioned the National Research Council Committee on National Statistics to convene two-day exploratory workshop on the application of subjective well-being measures to public policy. Leading academic and policy personnel from the US and UK explored the research needs and practical challenges surrounding the integration of measures of subjective well-being into the planning and evaluation of social and economic policies by local and national governments and agencies.

  • This one day exploratory workshop explored the use of economic phenotypes in large-scale research to promote an understanding of economic behavior.

  • The National Institute on Aging (NIA) commissioned the National Research Council Committee on Population to convene a two-day expert meeting to consider what data to collect on which traits and endophenotypes to optimize the HRS GWAS information as well as to explore ways in which the HRS can be harmonized with other types of large-scale studies to help uncover complex phenotypes attributable to genetics.

  • This expert meeting was convened by the National Academies of Science, Committee on National Statistics, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, and was chaired by Connie Citro (CNSTAT) and Robert Wallace of the University of Iowa. The meeting was called to summarize the state-of-the-science in Elderly Mistreatment, identify gaps in knowledge, and elaborate on the types of work needed to advance the science since the National Research Council’s 2003 landmark publication Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in an Aging America.

  • An exploratory teleconference on Conscientiousness and Healthy Aging was held to consider new directions in research on the links between personality and important aging outcomes.

  • Aging, Motivation, and Addiction
    October 5, 2009 to October 6, 2009

    The purpose of this meeting was to bring professionals from different disciplines (psychologists, behavioral economists, social/affective and cognitive neuroscientists, and neuroeconomists) together to discuss mechanisms of motivation and their relation to self-regulation in aging and addiction. The meeting was jointly organized by the Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

  • This expert meeting was convened by the National Academies of Science, Committee on Population, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, and was chaired by Duncan Thomas of Duke University. The goal of the meeting was to foster better communication between researchers in the aging and disaster planning fields and to solicit suggestions for future research priorities in this area.

  • The workshop on Advancing Integrative Psychological Research on Adaptive and Healthy Aging, was held at the Institute for Personality and Social Research (IPSR) at the University of California, Berkeley one day prior to the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Convention in San Francisco. The meeting was jointly organized by the Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) at the National Institute on Aging and IPSR.

  • On August 2, 2008, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) convened a discussion of research, data, and training needs in the area of sociology research relevant to the NIA. The gathering was timed to coincide with the 103rd annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Boston. This document summarizes points made during the presentations and discussion.

  • The workshop on Opportunities for Advancing Behavioral and Social Research on Aging: An Introduction for Psychological Scientists was held at the 2008 Association for Psychological Science (APS) Annual Convention. The meeting was jointly organized by the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, (John Cacioppo, Director, and 2007-08 President of APS) and the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging.

  • NIA Workshop on Genetic Methods and the Life Course
    February 11, 2008 to February 12, 2008

    The NIA held a workshop to determine how integration of lifespan development and genetics can clarify developmental mechanisms promoting selected domains of social and emotional competence in aging. Researchers representing the fields of economics, molecular biology, epigenetic science, and behavioral research presented heir work and engaged in discussions focused on stability and change, the interplay between gene and environment, and gene expression and epigenetic mechanisms.

  • NIA Workshop on Allostatic Load
    November 29, 2007 to November 30, 2007

    An exploratory workshop focusing on theoretical and measurement issues relating to the concept of allostatic load, and more specifically on the question of assessing multiple and cumulative aspects of physiological aging and dysregulation. The goals of the workshop were to identify research needs and strategies for advancing the science in this area. The attached document includes background statements from workshop participants, used to frame the discussion.

  • NIA Workshop on Refining Economic Phenotypes
    September 10, 2007 to September 11, 2007

    A exploratory workshop was held to consider what could be gained by adding genetic analyses to attempts to understand economic behavior. Economists, psychologists and neuroscientists discussed economic phenotypes, how these phenotypes could be measured, the level of analysis needed to assess individual differences within them, and how phenotypes might be influenced by aging. The workshop, chaired by David Laibson, David Reiss and Erica Spotts, fostered the exchange of ideas through formal presentations, invited commentary and general discussion.

  •  An Ad Hoc Committee on Data Priorities, chaired by Lisa Berkman of Harvard University and James P. Smith of RAND, was asked to help NIA/BSR to assess likely needs for the data infrastructure for behavioral and social research on aging and recommend priorities for investment in data collection, archiving, and dissemination.

  • To benefit from the possibility of exploiting cross-national differences to understand the effects of various policies, data collection efforts in various countries must be harmonized -- which means that conceptually comparable information be collected, and procedures (e.g., sampling and quality control) be synchronized to the extent possible. To this end, NIA convened a workshop to bring together data experts and the Principal Investigators of large national or cross-national datasets that are (or plan to be) harmonized with the U.S. Health and Retirement Study.

  • Social Neuroscience of Aging
    February 7, 2007 to February 8, 2007

    This 2-day exploratory workshop surveyed topics in social neuroscience of relevance to aging and addressed research and resource needs for advancing this field. Invited participants included leading researchers in social and personality psychology, genetics, neuroscience and neurobiology, biodemography, psychoneuroimmunology, and psychiatry who share an interest in social behaviors, and who have the breadth of knowledge regarding developmental and aging issues within their respective disciplines.

  • The topic of this conference was assessing the value of health. NIA intends to incorporate economic valuations of disease into its decisions about allocating research funding. The purpose of the conference was to strengthen research in the field by developing a future research agenda. Conference results would also be useful to the World Health Organization and relevant to national health accounts research. The conference was attended by 21 experts representing NIA, leading academic institutions, the private sector, and the national media.

  • Aging and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa
    January 11, 2007 to January 12, 2007

    As discussed in the National Research Council report Aging in Sub-Saharan Africa (2006), the impact of HIV/AIDS on adult mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa has reshaped the population structure and age distribution in most countries of this region, with important consequences for the elderly. A workshop in January 2007 considered research needs relevant to understanding the impact of HIV/AIDS on elders in Sub-Saharan Africa, and provided recommendations to NIA on a research agenda in this area.

  • This workshop was convened by the National Academies of Science, Committee on Population, and was chaired by Robert Wallace of the University of Iowa. The goal of the workshop was to consider specific, low-cost interventions drawing on the lessons of demography, public health, economics, community medicine, and other fields. The interdisciplinary approach is reflected in the invited presentations.

  • Dr. Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, the Nobel Laureate in Economics whose work has revolutionized thinking about the history of health in the U.S., will appear with colleague Dr. Dora L. Costa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to discuss findings from their NIA Program Project grant on the aging process of Union Army veterans. This ambitious project links vast amounts of information for a sample of Union Army veterans to allow researchers to study their aging process and compare it to that of later cohorts. Drs.

  • Decision Making and Aging Work Group
    August 16, 2006 to August 17, 2006

    Since 2004, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Behavioral and Social Research Program has undertaken a research agenda to explore these factors, including a series of meetings, some held in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences, to assess the state of the science in judgment and decision-making research and to generate ideas for future research. These meetings have brought together psychologists and economists and have led to the recent release of a request for applications focused on neuroeconomics and aging.

  • This workshop explored issues surrounding data sharing plans for NIA-sponsored behavioral and social research studies that collect human specimens (DNA and/or biologic data). Workshop participants considered the potential for deductive disclosure and risks to confidentiality and privacy resulting from the merging of biologic and genetic data with complex, deeply described phenotypes in social and behavioral research studies. The workshop presentations and discussions were intended to inform the development of NIA/BSR data sharing guidelines in this area.

  • Neuroeconomics of Aging Workshop
    March 31, 2006 to April 1, 2006

    The National Institute on Aging convened an exploratory workshop to share ideas about neuroeconomics and aging around a set of defined workshop goals. Presentations from experts in aging research in areas of social, cognitive, and personality psychology; cognitive and affective neuroscience; decision-making; and health and retirement economics framed the discusion of how the neuroeconomics perspective can be applied most fruitfully to issues of relevance to aging. This workshop built on themes developed in two NIA teleconferences on Neuroeconomics of Aging held in August 2005.

  • The NIA asked the National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Population, to hold two expert meetings to discuss the National Long-Term Care Survey (NLTCS) and to consider future options for the survey. The first meeting was held on October 7, 2005. A follow-up meeting was held on Tuesday, February 14, 2006, which addressed in more detail policy and research uses of a continued NLTCS, and alternative options for scientific aims and survey designs.

  • The goal of the health accounts project is to produce a new set of National Health Accounts which will explicitly measure health in addition to medical spending. To relate health outcomes to costs, the accounts will decompose both health and medical spending by particular diseases. Such accounts will allow researchers to ask such questions as: (1) How has the population's health changed over time? (2) To the extent health has improved, what accounts for this change? (3) What is the productivity of medical spending?

  • The Center for the Study of Behavior and Development, in the Division of Behavioral and Social Science, National Academies of Science, in conjunction with BSR, conducted this meeting. Topics discussed included the neural basis of decision making, the design of health decision aids, the role of affect and emotion in decision making, the effects of age and social context on decision making, and aging and decision making competence. The meeting was exploratory, to help develop directions for future NIA research in this area.

  • The NIA asked the National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Population, to hold an expert meeting to discuss the National Long Term Care Survey (NLTCS) and to consider future options for the survey. There was general support for continuing to address long-term care and disability questions from both academic and policy quarters.

  • Sponsored by NIA. The purpose of this meeting was to help NIA identify the most promising research opportunities related to macroeconomics and aging. Participants reviewed population aging in a global context, the size of the 60 and 80 populations, the health of the elderly, and variations across countries. It is likely that the links between population aging and macroeconomics are mediated by the institutional context (retirement policy and pension and health care systems) and the economic context (degree of integration into regional and global economies).

  • Sponsored by NIA and NICHD. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together grantees of the Intergenerational Family Resource Allocation RFA to present projects to each other, discuss methodological and data collection issues, and create an interdisciplinary network of researchers doing work on intergenerational resource allocation.

  • Action Research in Psychology and Economics
    March 4, 2005 to March 5, 2005

    Sponsored by NIA, the meeting focused on inter-disciplinary work aimed at developing new, innovative approaches to policy questions. Based on the organizers' belief that a natural alliance exists between social psychologists and behavioral economists, their intent was to have top-notch scientists in these fields collaborate on developing interventions that could eventually be useful for a variety of health applications of interest to BSR/NIA.

  • NIA gathered eminent researchers on September 28 to discuss with journalists, “How can we prepare to meet the challenges of an aging population?” The answers, at least according to this NIA-supported group of leading social, behavioral, and economic scientists, will come from creative thinking and new approaches to some of today’s most difficult questions, such as the rise in health expenditures and major gaps in personal savings for retirement.

  • The World Health Organization’s Multi-Country Studies team developed the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) to collect a range of valid, reliable, and comparable information on the health and well-being of older persons in low and middle income countries that could be used by national health information systems to fill critical information gaps. Data modules would include self-reported health assessments linked to anchoring vignettes and traditional measures of functioning combined with measured performance testing in various health domains.

  • Determinants of Mortality
    July 15, 2004 to July 16, 2004

    The purpose of this conference was to examine which factors appear to explain mortality reductions over time as well as cross-sectionally, both within and between countries. Another purpose was to attempt to resolve differences in the existing theories, including considering whether there might exist a unified framework to characterize mortality changes and differentials. The meeting was largely informal and there was no presentation of papers.

  • Decision Making and Aging Workshop
    July 14, 2004 to July 15, 2004

    There has been a noticeable trend in the growing complexity of decisions being faced in old age, e.g., pensions and benefit issues, portfolio investment decisions, pharmaceuticals, and health insurance options. BSR convened a small working group to share ideas in the area of decision making and aging. The presentations highlighted the importance of affect and motivation on judgments, probability perception, and decision making. Age differences in affective/experiential and deliberative processes have important theoretical implications for both theory and application.

  • The purpose of this workshop was for behavioral and social science researchers funded by the NIA, who are using data originating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to exchange information in order to facilitate coordination, collaboration, and communication between researchers and agency staff, and to identify common issues.

  • The objective of this meeting hosted by the Social Sciences Research Council was to explore the “successes” (advances, breakthroughs, etc.) and “failures” (weaknesses, shortcomings, etc.) of the social and behavioral sciences in the field of aging in the last 30 years. The focus was on discussions pertaining to where, when, and why social and behavioral science advances have occurred in the area of aging.

  • Symposium on Cognitive Training for Older Adults
    February 29, 2004 to March 1, 2004

    This symposium considered the best methods for training. Is training best done within the context in which it will be used (e.g., perceptual speed, memory, exercise, technology use)? Is multiple system training the best method, and how do we determine what systems are affected? What are the physiological correlates of training and transfer of training? What is the impact of social engagement on cognition? How should we define successful training? How long do training effects have to last to be successful? Who are the best candidates for cognitive training and why?

  • NBER Disability Group Meeting
    February 12, 2004 to February 15, 2004

    The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has an ongoing project on the foundations of disability decline, what might be done to extend and accelerate future improvements in functional ability, and how the benefits of disability decline can be evaluated in economic terms. A group of economists, demographers, epidemiologists, and physicians are examining the causes and characteristics of past disability trends to identify the core foundations of disability decline, and to think about improving functional ability in the future.

  • National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) hosted a 1-day workshop on the NLMS and the LEHD, data sets partially sponsored by BSR but underutilized by grantees. The objective was to introduce these data sets to researchers from NIA’s 11 Demography Centers so they would think about using the data sets. The workshop provided participants the opportunity to learn what the new data sources provide, what issues they can be used to address, and how they can be obtained. More information about the data sets can be found below.

  • BSR organized a 1-day meeting on effective uses of physical performance measures in population-based studies (as opposed to the self-reported measures of disability which have historically been used). This meeting reviewed existing performance protocols and discussed several important issues relating to use of performance measures in population-based studies. BSR developed a consensus document that outlined the various physical performance protocols available for use in various studies of aging.

  • This one-day conference, sponsored by the Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences (CBRSS) at Harvard University and NIA, convened a multidisciplinary group of social scientists to explore the potential for small, inexpensive and noncoercive psychological and sociological interventions to influence human behavior in a range of policy settings. Changing human behavior, even for someone's own good, can be a huge undertaking. This conference featured research from the fields of economics, social psychology, and public health.

  • The World Health Organization’s Multi-Country Studies team developed the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) to collect a range of valid, reliable, and comparable information on the health and well-being of older persons in low and middle income countries that could be used by national health information systems to fill critical information gaps. Data modules would include self-reported health assessments linked to anchoring vignettes and traditional measures of functioning combined with measured performance testing in various health domains.

  • This workshop explored issues related to incorporating environmental factors from the behavioral and social sciences into genetically informative studies of aging. Development of this area is critical to understanding central issues surrounding gene expression, including gene-environment interactions and covariation and gene expression (i.e., how it is affected by social contexts and behaviors). A special issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences (Vol. 60B, March 2005) was based on the presentations.

  • Workshop participants provided expertise across a wide range of fields: numerical cognition, quantitative and document literacy, mathematics, judgment and decision-making, neuropsychology, and behavioral economics. The specific topics covered at the workshop included: age-related changes in numerical processing strategies; proportional and probabilistic reasoning processes; estimation skills, investment, and risk-taking behaviors; and financial abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Cognition in Context
    April 8, 2002

    This meeting was sponsored by NIA's BSR and Neuroscience and Neuropsychology programs. The meeting addressed such issues as: (1) identification of gaps in knowledge about the impact of various contexts on cognition; (2) the feasibility of research on the confluence of different kinds of contexts on cognition; (3) the importance of natural versus artificial contexts; and (4) how findings from these types of studies can be conceptualized more generically.

  • This meeting explored directions for developing behavioral genetics and aging research. It included experts on human studies of behavioral genetics and aging and experts on animal and model organisms. A special issue of Journal of Behavior Genetics (Vol. 33, March 2003) was based on the presentations.

  • This workshop engaged leading scholars in an exploratory discussion of the characteristics, causes, and consequences of disability decline in the US, specifically investigating what is known about disability trends and what should be learned from future research. The workshop identified agreed-on research findings related to disability trends; identified areas of ambiguity or disagreement; and developed foci for future investigations.

  • The Division of Neuroscience, NIA cosponsored this exploratory workshop with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy Body disease (LBD) are perhaps the most common causes of dementia in the elderly. There is a substantial clinical overlap among the dementias associated with Alzheimer's disease, LBD, and Parkinson's disease (PD). Dementia develops in all patients with Alzheimer’s disease and LBD and in approximately 20 to 30 percent of patients with PD.

  • Three related meetings were held in 1999-2000 (Burden of Illness, Psychology and Economics, and Old and New Measures of Wellbeing) concerned with issues of interest to psychology, economics and medicine, and to various emerging hybrid disciplines such as behavioral medicine and behavioral economics.