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Social Psychology

Social Psychology

The Social Psychology Program of the University of Amsterdam is dedicated to studying human beings in their social context, broadly defined.

Investigating the Cognitive, Affective, and Motivational Processes Underlying Social Behavior

The Social Psychology Program of the University of Amsterdam is dedicated to studying human beings in their social context, broadly defined. As a deeply social species, we spend much of our lives in the (explicit or implicit) presence of others, and our emotions, cognitions, and behaviors are profoundly shaped by the social environments in which we operate. Social environments can be construed at various levels of analysis, such as close relationships, small groups, larger collectives, intergroup relations, and the broader cultural or societal context. As we navigate our lives, our emotions, cognitions, and behaviors are shaped by interactions with other individuals as well as through exposure to social norms and belief systems. At the Social Psychology Program of the UvA, we cover all of these sources of influence in our research to contribute to a thorough understanding of the human condition.

Our current research endeavors center around four overarching and mutually related questions that link fundamental cognitive, affective, and motivational processes to human behavior in its social context.

How do people perceive and learn about others?

Human behavior is shaped to a large extent by how people perceive and think about each other. We seek to unravel the mechanisms and contingencies of social perception and social information processing that underlie basic social cognition, the development of stereotypes and prejudice, and social behavior.

How do emotions regulate social life?

Social life is inherently emotional. As critical linking pins between the individual and the social context, emotions provide a unique window into the human mind. Our research aims to illuminate how emotions drive social behavior by investigating how people are influenced by their own as well as by others' emotions.

How is social behavior shaped by dynamics within and between groups?

As an ultra-social species, humans spend much of their lives in various types of groups, both in their private lives and at work. Several streams of research in our group address how individuals navigate interactions within and between groups.

How do people navigate today's increasingly complex world?

Social life can be highly complex, unpredictable, ambiguous, and uncertain. In the "age of anxiety," societal, man-made, and natural threats as well as increasing informational ambiguity make uncertainty an inherent part of our lives and render decision-making exceedingly difficult. We study how people cope with such uncertainty.