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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NWO Grant for Replication Studies

Wooded forest trees backlit by golden sunlight before sunset wit

Dr. Karin Tanja-Dijkstra is awarded a grant from NWO for a replication project. She will replicate the influential research of Ulrich, Simons, Losito, Fiorito, Miles and Zelson (1991) into the stress-reducing effects of staying in a natural environment for people, which is the largest experiment ever carried out in the field of environmental psychology.

Over the grant: For the first time, NWO is funding nine projects from the health and social sciences that replicate research from others. It concerns research performed in the past that has been the basis for subsequent research or that has assumed an important place in education, policy forming or public debate. NWO wants to replicate such ‘cornerstone research’ in order to contribute to increased transparency in research and the quality of reporting of research results. With the awarding of these projects, NWO is also setting an international precedent.

The original news is published on the NWO website.

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Prof. Sander Koole had his Inaugural address on May 12, 2017 at VU Amsterdam.

Information on the lecture can be found below,

Botox voor de ziel: Het belang van belichaamde emotieregulatie voor welzijn en gezondheid

Onderdeel Faculteit der Gedrags- en Bewegingswetenschappen

We nemen van oudsher aan dat psychologische problemen ‘tussen de oren’ zitten. Maar klopt dat eigenlijk wel? Sander Koole laat in zijn oratie zien dat ons lichaam een veel belangrijker rol speelt bij psychologische problemen dan je zou denken.

Vooral als we beter willen leren omgaan met onze emoties is aandacht voor het lichaam belangrijk. Bij veel emotionele problemen raken mensen bijvoorbeeld vervreemd van hun lichaam, zodat zij minder goed voor hun gezondheid zorgen. Verder kunnen lichamelijke interventies op vaak onverwachte manieren helpen om ‘geestelijke problemen’ aan te pakken. Zo zijn er aanwijzingen dat Botoxinjecties een rol kunnen spelen in het verlichten van depressie. Voor het verbeteren van onze geestelijke gezondheid is het dus aan te bevelen om meer aandacht te besteden aan ons lichaam.

*Original news is published on the VU website.

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NIAS-Lorentz Alexithymia Workshop!


People with high levels of alexithymia display notable difficulties in identifying and describing their emotional feelings (read more). The scientific study of alexithymia is nowadays a booming enterprise across multiple disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychosomatic medicine.

AER lab members Dalya Samur and Prof. Sander Koole, together with Prof. Olivier Luminet and M.D. Michiko Kano, have organized a NIAS-Lorentz Workshop to bridge the interdisciplinary research in alexithymia, which was held between 1st -4th of May, 2017.

This was the first time in four decades since the construct was first suggested that researchers across the entire field gathered together in a single meeting. For this meeting, the participants came from 13 different countries: Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United State of America.

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Promotion for Jolanda Maas to Asst. Prof.

jolanda-maas-e1432889924929Jolanda Maas has been promoted to Assistant Professor (tenured). She is working at the Amsterdam Emotion Regulation lab since September 2015, and her research is on the emotion-regulatory benefits of nature.

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Chief Editor for C&E

pcemSander Koole and Klaus Rothermund will become the new Chief Editors of Cognition and Emotion (C&E), as of January 2017.

C&E is devoted to the study of emotion, especially to those aspects of emotion related to cognitive processes. The journal aims to bring together work on emotion undertaken by researchers in cognitive, social, clinical, and developmental psychology, psychophysiology, neuropsychology/neuroscience, and cognitive science.

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Paper published

imgresSynchrony in Psychotherapy: A Review and an Integrative Framework for the Therapeutic Alliance

Koole, S. L., & Tschacher, W. (2016). Synchrony in psychotherapy: A review and an integrative framework for understanding the therapeutic aliance. Frontiers in Psychology7, 862. (Full text)

During psychotherapy, patient and therapist tend to spontaneously synchronize their vocal pitch, bodily movements, and even their physiological processes. In the present article, we consider how this pervasive phenomenon may shed new light on the therapeutic relationship– or alliance– and its role within psychotherapy. We first review clinical research on the alliance and the multidisciplinary area of interpersonal synchrony. We then integrate both literatures in the Interpersonal Synchrony (In-Sync) model of psychotherapy. According to the model, the alliance is grounded in the coupling of patient and therapist’s brains. Because brains do not interact directly, movement synchrony may help to establish inter-brain coupling. Inter-brain coupling may provide patient and therapist with access to another’s internal states, which facilitates common understanding and emotional sharing. Over time, these interpersonal exchanges may improve patients’ emotion-regulatory capacities and related therapeutic outcomes. We discuss the empirical assessment of interpersonal synchrony and review preliminary research on synchrony in psychotherapy. Finally, we summarize our main conclusions and consider the broader implications of viewing psychotherapy as the product of two interacting brains.

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