Research

I am an associate professor at the section of social, economic and organizational psychology of Leiden University and a member of the interdisciplinary Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC).

My work focuses on the role of affect in decision-making. Our feelings color our thoughts, but our thoughts also shape our feelings. I examine how these interactions play out in various domains, such as health, legal decision-making, and financial behaviour (and how these interrelate). Some of the questions that I study are how attention influences desire and pleasure, and how this affects (over)consumption, and how (and when) our feelings shape moral and punitive judgments. Another question concerns how we can facilitate sound financial decision making, even under less then optimal circumstances.

A lot of the work that I do builds on the central premise that our mental capacity is limited, and that this has consequences for what we perceive, feel and think. With technological advancements and societal developments pushing us to become ever more efficient, the question how we can use our mental capacity in a healthy way has become a focal theme  in many of my research projects.

Human behaviour is complex, so it pays off to look at it from various angles. In my research I therefore strive to integrate a broad array of methodologies ranging from controlled lab experiments with neurophysiological measures such as EEG, fMRI and eye-tracking, to field studies with behavioral assessments and self-reports and even qualitate methods such as structured interviews. This approach allows me to examine the interplay between emotion and cognition in ‘fundamental’ information processing mechanisms such as attention and (working) memory, but also how these interactions ultimately result in real judgments, decisions and actions.

My integrative approach is also reflected in my ongoing collaborations with partners both inside academia (e.g. cognitive neuroscience, criminology, developmental psychology, health psychology) and outside (e.g. various financial and health institutions, ministries, and the police). See also my funded projects in short bio and phd supervision.

I also teach legal professionals about the psychology of decision-making at the Academy for Legislation (Academie voor Wetgeving; AvW) and the Training and Study Centre for the Judiciary (Studiecentrum Rechtspleging; SSR). In addition, I provide scientific advice for the Dutch Institute for Family Finance Information (Nationaal Instituut voor Budgetvoorlichting; Nibud).

With my (former) colleagues Félice van Nunspeet, Gert-Jan Lelieveld, and Lasana Harris, I have launched the LIBC-social hotspot, in which all LIBC researchers are involved who study brain-behavior relations in a social context. See:

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