PhD Defense Mandy Tjew A Sin on October 6

On Tuesday October 6, 15:45 am, Mandy Tjew A Sin will defend her dissertation titled, CONTACT COMFORT: PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ACTUAL AND SIMULATED AFFECTIONATE TOUCH. The entire defense will be online and afterwards, there will be the opportunity to congratulate Mandy. You can watch the defense via the YouTube channel of the VU Beadle’s Office:

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PhD Defense by Tobias Maldei on September 24

On Thursday September 24, 9:45 am, Tobias Maldei will defend his dissertation titled, Meaningful Themes: The Role of Thematic Processing in the Intuitive Detection of Semantic Coherence. The entire defense will be online. You can watch the defense via the YouTube channel of the VU Beadle’s Office:

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The AER Lab welcomes Nigel Janssens and Chris Ryan

This month, Nigel Janssens and Chris Ryan started their work as PhD students on the NWO-funded project “The Rhythm of Relating”. Nigel will be examining brain-to-brain synchrony and Chris movement synchrony, bith in the context of emotional sharing. We are delighted to have attracted such highly motivated young talents to be working with us at the Amsterdam Emotion Regulation lab!

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IN SYNC: Harmonic Dissonance Workshop february 17-21@IDlab Amsterdam

During the workshop, artist Matthias Oostrik and Suzanne Dikker will co-develop an art/science Brain-Computer-Interface environment with dance group ICK Amsterdam centered around interpersonal synchrony at the neural, physiological and movement level.

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Open Competition Grant awarded to Sander Koole in July 2019

NWO Domain Social Sciences and Humanities has awarded funding to 41 researchers in the NWO Open Competition – SSH. This instrument makes funding available for the best research proposals in the humanities and social sciences, without any thematic limitations. The grant awarded to Sander Koole is titled The Rhythm of Relating: How Emotional Sharing Emerges From Interpersonal Synchrony in Movement, Physiological and Neural Activations. When people share their emotions, they often display the same rhythms in movements, heart rate, and even brain activity. The awarded project will investigate how such synchronous rhythms contribute to emotion regulation. The results may contribute to making psychotherapy more effective and improve communication, for instance, in close relationships or during negotiations.

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PhD Defence – Dalya Samur

kaft dalya proefschrift

On November 2, 2018 Dalya Samur will defend the PhD thesis entitled “From reading to feeling: A language-based approach to alexithymia” at 11:45 am. in the Aula of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

dr. Sander Koole

dr. Mattie Tops


Almost everyone has experienced being at a loss for words when they are trying to express their feelings, for example during such events as a break-up, loss, or wedding. However, people with high levels of alexithymia find this especially daunting. Alexithymia is a personality dimension that relates to chronic problems in identifying and talking about emotions. The present dissertation examines alexithymia from a language perspective, which is crucial to understanding the underlying emotional problems and developing suitable interventions.
Reading requires emotional abilities, such as understanding emotions of self and others. Thus, the first part of the dissertation investigates the link between reading and alexithymia. The results show that alexithymia indeed predicts reading motivation and comprehension, and this helps to explain why people differ in how much they read. The second part of the dissertation explores the underlying language processes in alexithymia. Research indicates that the emotional processing problems manifest themselves particularly in more complex forms of language use, such as during mental simulation of narrative worlds. Finally, the third part of the dissertation considers how research on alexithymia and language may be translated into clinical-psychological interventions. Taken together, the four empirical articles and two review articles from the present dissertation highlight the profound psychological connections between reading and feeling.

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PhD Defence – Hester Ruigendijk

On Friday February 2, 2018, at 11:45 am, Hester Ruigendijk will defend her dissertation at the Aula of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Thesis Title: On the Psychology of Volition. Linking Action versus State Orientation to Cognitive Control Processes and to Their Neural Architecture.

Supervisors: Prof. Sander L. Koole, co-promotor: prof. P.A.M. van Lange

Summary: Hester’s dissertation addresses the question why people often do not act upon their intentions. Her research shows that people who often fail to enact their intentions may do so paradoxically because they focus to much on their goals, which makes them more rigid in their actions.

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Festschrift Julius Kuhl

Festschrift Julius Kuhl

In honor of the work of Prof. Dr. Julius Kuhl (left), the Festschrift ‘Why people do the things they do’ was handed to him at the Motivation Psychology Colloquium at Trier, October 8th 2017, by the editors, Nicola Baumann, Sander Koole, Miguel Kazén, and Markus Quirin.

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Heidelberg Herbstsymposium

Presentation Sander Koole Heidelberg Herbstsymposium
Sander Koole giving a keynote lecture about Embodied Emotion Regulation at the Heidelberg Herbstsymposium at the 5th of October 2017.

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Phd Defence – Lotte Veenstra


Our lab member, Lotte Veenstra will be defending her Phd thesis on October 6, 2017, 11.45 am, at Aula, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.



Thesis Title: Taming Tempers: A situated motivational approach to anger management.

Supervisors: Prof. Sander L. Koole, co-promotor: Dr. Iris K. Schneider.

Type of funding: Funding for the studies included in this thesis was provided by the National Science Foundation, USA (BCS-1348553), and a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC-2011-StG_20101124).

How likely is it that you will respond with anger when someone provokes you? The traditional answer to this question is that it depends on your level of trait anger. When you are high on trait anger, you are likely to experience angry feelings more often, more intensely, and for longer durations, than when you are low on trait anger. However, this dissertation suggests that behaviors and emotions related to personality are not necessarily consistent across situations. More specifically, this dissertation proposes that we can better understand trait anger as a situated personality disposition, which translates into anger only when it is accompanied by an increase in approach motivation. When approach motivation gets blocked, you are less likely to become angry, even when you are high on trait anger. All in all, this dissertation offers a nuanced view of the way in which our impulses to become angry or aggressive evolve and subside dynamically.

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