Page 1

Institute for Social Psychology of Internet and Communication

MISSION AND VISION SPIK, or the (in Polish: Instytut Społecznej Psychologii Internetu i Komunikacji), acts as a part of the Warsaw School of Social Psychology (SWPS). SPIK is an interdisciplinary endeavor bridging psychology with computing and art. The Institute emerged as a response to the needs of contemporary science and business. It educates psychologists who understand and clarify the mechanisms underlying the modern information society. Our graduates perfectly fit into all the environments where the technology meets social communication and social change. By that, they become natural members or even leaders of the teams composed, on one hand side, of computer and technology professionals, and on the other of the people coming from the business and media world. Contemporary social psychology transcends and complements vast amount of sciences and their applications. With impressing advances in methodology and techniques of research it became a powerful tool providing answers to the important questions concerning human nature. It becomes more and more obvious to researchers and practitioners that the human factor plays a decisive role in all micro and macro processes. E.g. modern economy recognizes the role of trust for the macro level economic phenomena. It is no longer possible, or at least not desired, to design working environment without referring to the adequate knowledge about human needs, limitations and conditions ensuring best performance. The new categories of knowledge and skills emerge and grow where different sciences meet social psychology. Socio-physics, Socio-economy, Human-computer interaction, Techno-social network studies are just a few examples of these new branches. Deep understanding of social phenomena is a desired characteristic of modern, interdisciplinary oriented researchers and practitioners. It allows for the practitioners to improve the quality of service

Mission and vision Psychology

Dynamic social psychology

Psychology of the complexity of conflict 6

Sports psychology

Psychology of the Internet



Human-Computer Interaction

Programming, modeling and simulation

IT project management


Visual communication

New media art

Psychology of art and visual influence



Education with TP internet




Events and cooperation


Links to business Contact

PSYCHOLOGY Dynamic social psychology It’s a new and rapidly growing approach to understand human social behavior and is also one of the main areas of interests for interdisciplinary research and teaching activities undertaken at SPIK. According to this approach diverse phenomena from social realm can be understood as dynamical systems comprised of interacting elements that change in time, therefore we focus on the process and change while investigating among others social opinions, decision making, negotiations, close relationships, self-structure, social influence. In collaboration with international partners and business institutions we conduct cuttingedge research projects and also directly apply models and simulations we develop for better understanding and prediction of real life processes, e.g. economic decision making, economic and social transitions, health, programs aimed at increasing computer literacy in Polish society through modern education programs. As our mission is to teach students to see and understand the social world in its all complexity we not only provide them with solid theoretical knowledge and unique skills but also offer them a chance to participate in all these initiatives, which allows them to learn and experience even more in a safe but challenging environment.

PSYCHOLOGY Psychology of the complexity of conflict Protracted social conflicts continue to undermine the security and well being of societies worldwide. In 2005, twenty major armed conflicts were waged around the globe, with 40% of intrastate armed conflicts lasting for 10 years or more and 25% of wars lasting for more than 25 years (see Marshall & Gurr, 2005). Such conflicts seem immune to concerted attempts at intervention and thus are often considered intractable (Coleman, 2003). They escalate and deescalate, change form, spread into new groups, and can be passed from generation to generation. The specific issues around which intractable conflicts revolve can change, as can the parties and policies associated with the conflict. An intractable conflict can develop and be maintained independently of the intentions of the parties involved. In effect, they can take on a life of their own, becoming self-sustaining patterns of thought and behavior on the part of individuals and groups. Research on the dynamical principles of intractability and transformation has a strong conceptual foundation (see Coleman, Vallacher et al. in press; Nowak & Vallacher, 1998; Vallacher, Nowak et al. in press), but only preliminary empirical support (see Bui-Wrzosinska 2005). However, this agenda can benefit from the tools and methodologies currently employed in the many dynamical studies of other, related social-psychological phenomena (see Vallacher, Read, et. al., 2002). Once a more comprehensive understanding of the socialpsychological dimensions which determine our capacities to reframe conflict is achieved, and the dynamical nature of intractability sufficiently verified, then we can begin to test the practical implications for metaframing on affecting sustained, constructive change with enduring conflicts in the field.


Sports psychology The Olympic Games and World Championships have become one the most import ant sport, social and media events of our era. Taking the complexity theory as the departure point, an athlete can be described as a dynamic system, featuring an interplay of many interrelated elements changing over time. This kind of research, conducted at SPIK, concentrates around two main topics: the phenomenon of engagement in sport and the analysis of explicit and implicit social structures fund in individual sport practicing. Our innovative research tools include, among others: emotional evaluation based on mouse tracking procedures, the software for analysis of system dynamics, and advanced computer simulations. The results enable us to precisely predict the efficiency of the sportsmen practicing individual disciplines, basing of the diagnosis of the type of personal engagement and motivation.

PSYCHOLOGY Psychology of the Internet Researching human behavior in the cyberspace. With its rapid growth over recent years the Internet has entered into life of individuals and societies. The Internet is nowadays a lively social space, where psychological and social processes take part (e.g. the Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology). In our research we attach special attention to the specificity of human behavior online and to the role of the Internet in everyday life. For few years we have taught a special seminar concerning such topics. Moreover, we conduct our own empirical research regarding especially online social networks as well as psychological aspects of expressing one’s identity online. We often use the Internet in research and strive to develop online research methods, which could be used in studies of both online specific problems and basic psychological processes.


Neuro-cognitivistics Neurocognitivistics, it is an innovative, interdisciplinary speciality, combining psychology with the latest knowledge about brain functioning (cognitive neurophysiology), informatics with the neuron networks modelling. As a result, students discover psychology not only as a classical science about personality and social behavior but also as a physical science assuming that behavior of an individual can be objectively measured and discribed through the analysis of brain activity and its mathematical models. These models can be employed in therapy, banking, advertising, or in the new techniques of artificial intelligence. Neurocognitivistics is one of the most dynamically evolving branches of psychology. All over the world, the need for specialists in neurocognitivistics is rapidly growing. However, at the level of higher education in Poland there are no such broadly defined neuropsychological studies. Therefore we propose you a full speciality in the domain of neurocognitivistics, developed in collaboration with distinguished psychologists from Warsaw School of Social Psychology and neurophysiologists from Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology leading research center for studies of functioning central nervous system in Poland, and specialists form other Polish academic institutions.

COMPUTING Human-Computer Interaction Over 5 billion people do not use computers. Most of them are potential users of the digital world. One of the biggest problems is the communication gap between a human and a computer. Our goal is to decrease the gap. We achieve this by developing methods for proper design of the dialog between a human and a computer, as well as by development of novel ways of human-computer interaction. We start from a human in our approach. We analyze real needs and goals that are to be achieved. The students are taught how to design products that include software to make the result user-friendly. In our cooperation with business we face real-life problems and our ideas receive feedback. Disabled users are of our special interest. It is a big challenge and priceless design experience to create ideas that could prevent them from being excluded from the digital society. HCI program graduates become most wanted employees in IT related companies or open their own businesses. Their success proves our methodology and approach are right. We plan the HCI Centre, where scientific research will meet with business applications.

COMPUTING Programming, modeling and simulation The modern social science, especially Dynamical Social Psychology intensively exploits the modeling paradigm. However, because of very complex nature of the subject, the classical mathematical modeling was here substituted by computer simulations, in which knowledge about level of individuals allow to understand behavior of its aggregates. Operating with such, so called micro-simulations or Agent Based Models need rather rare amalgamation of education - competence in the subject combined with own, non trivial programming skills and/or ability to communicate with software engineers. SPIK is one of the few unique places in Europe, where psychology students have opportunity to learn from practicing experts, how to design and use computer simulations as tool for exploring psychological and social reality – from sole mind, thru pairs, groups, social networks, even to conflicted nations, cultures and whole mankind.

The simulation work at SPIK is based on sound formal models stemming from the theory of complex systems, nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. This one of the places where the cutting-edge applications in dynamic social psychology meet the formal methods found e.g. in theoretical physics and economy.

IT project management The SPIK approach combines the two most important competence areas of any successful project management: • „hard” management skills embodied in the two world leading project management methods: the American Project Management Institute’s PMBOK and the European PRINCE2 method; • „soft” skills covering both the effective cooperation of the project manager with all stakeholders (the team itself, sponsors, other interested parties) as well as taking full advantage of his/her own capabilities (e.g. time management, stress mitigation, etc.) These general project management skills are then augmented with specific IT topics, such as requirement analysis for IT systems, software life cycle management, Capability Maturity Model, principles of database and object-oriented design and analysis, as well as specific problems related to IT team development (motivation, integration, coaching). Various aspects of project management are not only taught on regular and post-graduate courses, but has been also successfully applied in many internal SPIK endeavors, notably ROSE and digiLab.


Visual communication Our exploration of the visual communication area at SPIK focuses on advertising, political propaganda and promotion. In advertising design and political propagation, not only are signs and symbols to be found which can be deciphered at first glance, but there are also adaptations or contaminations of masterpieces produced by the most famous painters or sculptors -- not only at present but also in the past two centuries. Following this path, our teaching and research covered, among others, • the political propagation created at the courts of some of the Popes, the Medici, the Kings of France and Poland as well as Napoleon I and Napoleon III; • the power of images within the totalitarian systems in Italy, the Soviet Russia and Germany; • the contemporary advertising through posters, billboards, internet and films. In this regard, an analysis of the use and adaptations of the masterpieces of the great and small artists are of particular interest.

ART New media art Recently, the number of projects in which artists use modern information technologies grew up decidedly, as well as a demand on the part of engineering colleges for co-operation with psychologists and artists on field of computer graphics, production of interfaces, projecting of hypertext structures etc. has been witnessed.

The main research areas of the new media art group at SPIK are: computer graphic art and data visualization; projecting of interfaces; software technologies; digital design, 3D modeling; sensors and interactivity; hypertext structure of the WWW; digital processing of sound and image; robotics and art; virtual reality, video art, experimental film. Our activity in this field is based on the integration of artistic, psychological and engineering activity (art and technology). We are convinced that only co-operation between artists, psychologist and engineers will result in innovative solutions in the field of information technology. Our aims are to work on research and development projects and educational projects, and to interact at a social level through the transfer of knowledge and technology to promote greater integration with the European knowledge-based society.


Psychology of art and visual influence In contemporary culture and pop-culture image becomes the primary mode of communication. Understanding and processing images or movies is quicker, more intuitive and efficient than elaborated verbal messages. Depending on use of color, composition and visual expression any information can be more emotionally involving, convincing or better remembered than without this visual support. Therefore for any person interested in psychology of communication or persuasion ability to understand the visual impact of the message is a must. Teaching the visual aspect of communication at SPIK includes the contemporary psychology of art, image and visual advertisement. Students learn both to analyze symbolic and psychological contents of artistic or persuasive images and to create new messages by themselves (both in virtual and real environment). Any person interested in the contemporary culture and communication can learn more on: • psychology of visual perception and persuasion • symbolical meaning of images • visual communication – how to convey the emotional impact through color and composition


The ICCC is a sister Center of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Center is dedicated to applications of complexity science to the study of conflict. Through research projects, conferences, education, publications and international collaboration, we try to expand complexity science to the social field and advance our understanding of one of its major challenges: protracted, seemingly intractable conflicts. The ICCC is strongly committed to the application and rigorous testing of emerging new ideas in the area of conflict studies. We integrate theoretical and empirical work using laboratory studies, computer simulations and network analyses as research approaches. We are also developing knowledge and practice to promote education, using new tools based on computer visualizations and simulations for our pedagogy. Our students and members of the Center participate actively in our common research agenda with Florida Atlantic University and Columbia University. Peter Coleman, the Director of our sister Center at Columbia University, Robin Vallacher, Professor at the Psychology Department at Florida University, and Andrea Bartoli, from Geaorge Mason University in Washington are our closest collaborators, mentors for our students and are currently involved in a series of research projects, common conferences and theory building initiatives.

INITIATIVES Education with TP internet Following the idea of cooperation between academic institutions and business for public interest, SPIK implemented in the years 2005-2007 together with the Polish Telecom TP a high quality training program for school teachers of physics, mathematics, history, biology, and informatics. The participants were developing modern curricula based on internet technologies and project-based approach to school work. The main result was high quality teaching material for direct use in classes. Moreover, schools taking part in the program become the local centers of change, which gave rise to the wider ROSE initiative described below. One say that the teaching experience of SPIK has been passed in this way down to high and middle schools.

ROSE After conducting two years of training of teachers as well as social science and application of dynamical psychology theory to social change, the network of Regional Centers of e-learning Instruction (ROSE) was formed. ROSE is an internet coordinated network of schools and e-learning professionals. Our instructors are trained in Instructional Design, Information Technology and Project based teaching. They coordinate through the internet forming learning community with diverse teaching knowledge and experience. Unique value of ROSE is ability of forming internet communities for long lasting results of teaching.

Flesztival Festival of Internet Animations and Graphics aka Flesztival is now one of the largest yearly events in Poland devoted to young computer art. One part of it is a conquest for the best animation and computer graphic with very attractive awards. On the educational level, Flesztival includes also art workshops and lectures conducted by recognized Polish modern artists. Flesztival is realized almost entirely by a group of students who combine in one team skills and interests of art, management, computer science and psychology of organization.

digiLab digiLab is the first scientific center in Poland focusing on the internet-based research methodology. It offers an easy-to-use platform for developing the full spectrum of online procedures -- from questionnaires to the most advanced cognitive psychology techniques -- and conducting research fully on internet. The laboratory runs its own knowledge exchange portal, and provides educational material for everybody interested in modern empirical social science.

SAI Employees and collaborators of SPIK have been strongly involved in organization of Social Aspects of the Internet conferences -- the biggest conference in Poland of this kind. In 2006 it was hosted by SWPS and prof. Henry Jenkins from MIT was the keynote speaker. It’s an Internet archive of amateur films from the Communist era 1945-1989, run jointly by SPIK and the Centre for Contemporary Art (CSW). The exposed pieces of visual art are widely accessible due to the Creative Commons licensing scheme.

CONTACT Instytut Społecznej Psychologii Informatyki i Komunikacji Director: prof Andrzej Nowak Deputy director: dr Jarosław Milewski Chodakowska 19/31 03-815 Warsaw, Poland Room 301

SPIK… … bridges Psychology, Computing and Art … … with Dynamic Approach as the cornerstone … … to educate the leaders of the Information Society

SPIK Brochure  

To enhance international cooperation of the Institute for Social Psychology of Internet and Communication we would like to present our Insti...