Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior

Harvard University has established the Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior to support transformative research in the social and behavioral sciences. Successful proposals will promise to advance understanding of the social, institutional and biological mechanisms shaping human beliefs and behavior. The funds support interdisciplinary social science research projects based on innovative experimental or observational designs that make use of sophisticated quantitative methods.The Fund is especially interested in reviewing and supporting research on the foundations of human behavior of the following kinds:

  • Interdisciplinary projects
  • Innovative projects
  • Exploratory projects
  • Projects with the potential to have an enormous impact on social science, policy, or human well-being
  • Research conducted with the collaboration of new investigators (although investigators at all career stages are encouraged to apply)
  • Research requiring seed funding, possibly to explore the viability of ideas for larger-scale, externally funded efforts

The Fund also supports seminars, conferences, and other research-related activities.

Eligible grant recipients are Harvard University affiliates in the following categories: full-time doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, and ladder faculty. Doctoral students must have completed their coursework and required oral or written exams. Doctoral students and post-docs must be sponsored by ladder faculty, who should provide a detailed letter evaluating the project and explaining the scientific merits of the project. Awards are capped: $40,000 for ladder faculty, and $5,000 for doctoral students and post-docs. Proposals are capped at 3000 words, excluding bio-sketches, references, and appendices.

Research proposals should contain:

  • Abstract (300-word limit)
  • Specific Aims (statement of research goals and/or hypotheses, limit of 1 page)
  • Significance and Innovation (limit of 1 page)
  • Research Proposal (detailed description of methods)
  • References
  • Appendix (optional)
  • NIH-style bio-sketch for each co-investigator
  • Budget

Other proposals (e.g., for conferences, seminars, etc) should include:

  • Abstract (300-word limit)
  • Specific Aims (statement of research goals and/or hypotheses, limited to 1 page)
  • Significance and Innovation (limited to 1 page)
  • Research Activity
  • References
  • NIH-style bio-sketch for each co-investigator
  • Budget: Permissible expenditures include: subject payments, data acquisition costs, research assistant wages and fringe benefits (as appropriate), post-doctoral fellow wages (faculty-proposed projects only) and fringe benefits (as appropriate), and other costs directly related to the research project (e.g., travel to a field experiment site, travel to work with collaborators, travel to present funded research). The Fund does not pay for equipment (e.g., computers), space, or academic/summer salary support for PIs. Expenses for conference/seminar/workshop proposals must be consistent with Harvard’s reimbursement rules, including class of travel restrictions, and meal/hotel caps.

Proposals are due by midnight on the last day of February, May, August, and November. Proposals should be emailed to Emily Sall (

Fund for Research on the Foundations of Human Behavior Recipients:
Laura Adler