Social Science Experiments

How and when can social science support evidence-based human rights advocacy?

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Human rights scholars are increasingly using experimental research methods to explore the impact and efficacy of human rights work. In this openGlobalRights series, authors explore when and how experiments can help support evidence-based human rights advocacy.

This openGlobalRights series was first developed by the late Will H. Moore, a noted, and much-loved, scholar of human rights. We are deeply grateful for his support and contributions, and dedicate this series to his memory, family, students, and colleagues.


Brain research suggests emphasizing human rights abuses may perpetuate them

By: Laura Ligouri
Español | Français | العربية

Capitalizing on the brain’s capacity to simulate events, messages of positive behavior – instead of repeated exposure to accounts of abuse – could better lead to ...

Tailoring the message: How the political left and right think differently about human rights

By: Joe Braun & Stephen Arves

Effectively motivating people to care about human rights depends largely on where they fall on the political spectrum.

International recognition and public opinion towards conflict and violence

By: Yael Zeira

Experiments show international recognition of statehood could change popular support for violence in self-determination conflicts.

Discrimination in action: the value of experiments in human rights

By: Ana Bracic

A video game experiment in Slovenia reveals discriminatory practices against the Roma—what else might experiments teach us about human rights?

Monetizing the human rights “brand”

By: David Crow & José Kaire & James Ron

Marketing research can help Mexican rights groups monetize their “brand” and boost public donations.

The human rights lab: using experiments to craft effective messaging

By: Michele Leiby & Matthew Krain

Framing issues in different ways can undermine or bolster support of human rights, and experiments can help to explain why.

Using experiments to improve women’s rights in Pakistan

By: Gulnaz Anjum & Adam Chilton

Experiments on support for women’s rights in Pakistan could improve the implementation and enforcement of UN treaties.

Is public opinion an effective constraint on torture?

By: Will H. Moore
Español | العربية

Americans’ support for torture increases depending on who is involved and how it is framed.

Human rights data used the wrong way can be misleading

By: Meg Satterthwaite

While data is important for human rights advocacy, the risks of misleading people are also very real and advocates must insist on rigor.

Naming crimes: genocide and public opinion in the United States

By: Benjamin A. Valentino & Ethan Weinberg 

Debates about the label “genocide” distract from the substantive discussion about whether and how to stop the killing.

Discrimination, cooperation, and building communities

By: Ana Bracic

New research shows that people who experience discrimination are less likely to contribute to the common good.

To discredit victims, call them terrorists

By: Ana Bracic & Amanda Murdie

Repressive governments can damage the effectiveness of human rights action by attempting to discredit a prisoner of conscience.

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