mw. dr. M.E. (Mariska) Kret MSc

  • Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen
    Programmagroep: Work and Organizational Psychology
  • Weesperplein  4
    1018 XA  Amsterdam
    T:  0205256633

Brief summary of research over the last five years

My PhD focused on the perception of emotional body language and innovated the field of affective neuroscience that was characterized by an almost exclusive focus on facial expressions. I showed that the brain processes body movements similarly as facial expressions but initiate clearer action patterns. I argued that body language is evolutionary seen much older than facial expressions and inspired by Darwins work on emotions and by contemporary primatologists, I experimentally tested this statement in a group of chimpanzees at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute. With use of the emotional dot probe paradigm presented on a touch-screen, I showed that chimpanzees process chimpanzee body language similarly as humans do and I am currently extending that line of research with the bonobos in 'de Apenheul'. Thanks to the interactions with these beautiful apes, I developed an interest in the use of eye-signals. Humans are the only species on earth with much visible eye-white that evolved for communicative purposes. Despite this difference with the chimpanzee, I have shown that humans, as well as chimpanzees synchronize their pupil-size with their own species.  

My Postdoctoral appointment at the University of Amsterdam enables me to connect these earlier insights to social psychological work on social decision making and intergroup differences. It resulted in (co) authored publications on the substantial role of oxytocin in social approach and withdrawal tendencies. My VENI project (starting in January 2015) builds on these three lines of work – emotion recognition and mimicry, pupil-synchronization, and oxytocin-motivated social decision making.

Areas of Expertise

Comparative studies, evolutionary psychology, emotion perception, mimicry and synchronization, social anxiety and depression, fMRI, psychophysiology, oxytocin, multi-level modeling

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  • M.E. Kret & A. Ploeger (in press). Emotion processing deficits: A liability spectrum providing insights into comorbidity of mental disorders. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.








  • M.E. Kret (2014). The perception of emotions in human, bonobo and chimpanzee. Recognition.
  • M.E. Kret (2014). NWO VENI grant. Role of Pupil-synchronization in Trust. Recognition.
  • M.E. Kret (2012). Funding for project "Emotion perception in humans and chimpanzees". Recognition.
  • M.E. Kret (2012). Visiting researcher at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute. Recognition.
  • M.E. Kret (2011). Post-doctoral position for six months at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute. Recognition.


  • M.E. Kret & L. Colzato (2015). Symposium at the International Convention of Psychological Science.
  • M.E. Kret (2015). Organizing Committee Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychonomie- winter conference in Egmond aan Zee.
  • M.E. Kret & A. Ploeger (2014). Evolutionary Psychology & Primatology.
  • M.E. Kret & L. Colzato (2014). NVP symposium on "hot cognition".
  • M.E. Kret (2013). Wintercongres Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychonomie.
  • M.E. Kret (2013). Organizing Committee Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychonomie- winter conference in Egmond aan Zee.
  • M.E. Kret (2012). Mini-symposium about oxytocin and testosterone.
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