Empowering People through Behavioral Science

2012 Request for Proposals (Closed)

In the summer of 2012, the first New Paths to Purpose Request for Proposals was announced.  With a budget pool of $750,000, the Center for Decision Research sought up to ten 27-month projects (with budgets of at least $50,000, but not more than $250,000) to be funded for an April 2013 start. The competition concluded on March 1, 2013, after over $11 million in funding requests had been considered. Ultimately, awards for seven new projects were announced. See below for details.


Seeking to better understand the myriad roles of purpose in human experience, leaders from spiritual, political, and academic communities have traditionally led us to look inward—to nurture lives of purpose by pursuing our personal strengths and transcending our weaknesses. However, with the growth of behavioral science over the last few decades, it has become apparent that the narrowly-introspective approach is not sufficient, as it does not account for our unique sensitivity to, and propensity to shape, the very worlds we inhabit.

The first New Paths to Purpose RFP accordingly sought to develop a new, broader, and more actionable paradigm for understanding the experience and fulfillment of purpose in human life—one that deeply explores the considerable power humans may harness by managing situational and contextual forces around them. To do this, the initiative was designed to bring together an expansive, vibrant, and multidisciplinary community of behavioral scientists to address the following core question: How might individuals actively shape—rather than merely inhabit—their environments, and thus become more purposeful, powerful creators of their destiny?



University of California at San Diego University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Public Policy University of British Columbia New York University Stern School of Business University of Toronto Rotman School of Management New York University University of Texas at Austin

Click on the title of each funded project below for a brief description of the proposed work.


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