APA Responds to NIH Request for Information on Basic Behavioral Research

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health recently invited scientists and stakeholder organizations to set priorities for a new initiative on basic behavioral and social sciences research.

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently invited scientists and stakeholder organizations to respond to a Request for Information (RFI) to help set priorities for a new initiative on basic behavioral and social sciences research called OppNet.

It is anticipated that funding for OppNet projects in Fiscal Year 2010 will be $11 – 12 million, mostly from American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds, which by law must be obligated by September 30, 2010.  Some funding announcements have already been issued.  23 NIH institutes and centers, plus five coordinating offices, are participating and will contribute funds to the trans-NIH initiative. The responses from the RFI will help NIH staff develop initiatives primarily for 2011 and beyond. 

Writing for APA, Executive Director for Science Steven Breckler called for NIH to more closely examine topics in several areas of research in which NIH funding has been decreasing or inconsistent:  -- animal behavior research (both laboratory and field) that informs understanding of human mechanisms;  individual, social, and cultural processes underlying personality, self, and identity; interpersonal interactions, close relationships, family processes, group processes, and social networks, across the lifespan and socio-cultural contexts; prejudice, discrimination, stigma; emotion regulation; higher-level reasoning, problem-solving, planning, and decision-making; and attitudes and their relation to behavior.

APA’s response included suggestions that several APA scientists or divisions had shared, including basic cognitive research prompted by computer aided diagnostic techniques, research to discover biomarker changes associated with psychosocial treatment; direct measurement of behavior to build alternatives to self-report; and basic research on how feelings and emotions impact behavior and behavior change efforts.