- - Body image
- - Cognitive processes and biases
- - Executive functioning & cognitive control
- - Interventions, treatment
My research focuses on social and cognitive influences on body image and self-regulation. More particularly, I am interested in the question in how people perceive and evaluate their bodies and how these judgments are influenced by the real or imagined judgments of other people. Some of my research projects concern:
- We developed an intervention for women with low body dissatisfaction that makes use of conditioning. My colleagues and I have found that women improved in body satisfaction and self-esteem when they took part in a short training that showed pictures of their pictures followed by smiling faces of strangers, signaling positive and accepting feedback The training was effective in subclinical samples and in a sample of young women who were at risk for developing an eating disorder. We have begun to examine the effectiveness of the training in clinical samples.
- In a related line of work we focus on cognitive biases in women with low body dissatisfaction. Jessica Alleva, Anita Jansen and I have discovered that women with low body dissatisfaction are prone to a “covariation bias”. That is, these women expect and detect more negative social feedback at their appearance than they receive in reality. At present, we are developing an intervention to diminish this bias.
- Another line of work, Jessica Alleva and I study people think more positively about their bodies when they adopt an instrumental outlook on their bodies (what is my body capable of doing) instead of an appearance focus (what do I look like).
- A fourth line of research is concerned with obesity stigma. Together with Clare Purvis we study why overweight and obesitas persons are judged negatively and stereotyped as more lazy, less intelligent and responsible than normal-weight persons and whether these negative judgments and stereotypes may be changed by stereotype retraining.
- In our work on self-regulation we study strategies to overcome barriers to goal achievement such as overcoming ego depletion and implementation intentions to reduce the gap between intentions and actual behavior.
I coordinate the block Social Psychology at University College Maastricht and the Honour’s Programme for 2nd year bachelor’s students at our faculty. I supervise bachelor’s thesis on a variety of subjects related to Social Psychology and master’s thesis related to body image and self-regulation.
An up to date list can be found here.