The Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology uses experimental and field research methods to study human behavior and its underlying processes. Our research focuses on theory of human social behavior and human cognition. Theoretical knowledge and rigorous methodology is used to solve applied problems in society and organizations. Currently the department consists of two sections: Social & Organizational Psychology and Cognitive Psychology.

Cognitive Psychology

The Cognitive Psychology group of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam focuses its research efforts on the general theme of “Attention and Performance”. Within the area of attention, we investigate top-down and bottom-up control of visual selection, the relation between attention and eye movement, visual search, visual marking, and attention in 3-D. Within the area of performance we focus on nonspecific preparatory processes in reaction time tasks and on task switching.

We investigate these issues using different approaches and techniques, i.e., behavioral RT tasks, eye movement recording, EEG, MEG and fMRI recording and neural network modeling. In addition to the basic research on attention and performance, we also conduct applied research in the area of information processing, traffic behavior and human decision making. Applied research is usually conducted on the basis of external funding.

Social and Organizational Psychology

The Social and Organizational Psychology group focuses on three research themes: Trust, leadership, and cooperation (TLC). People often find themselves in social situations – with strangers, colleagues, friends, or close partners. These social interactions largely define us, but they can be quite challenging too. Social Psychology (the basic science) and Organizational Psychology (her applied sister) help us understand those challenges and can answer fundamental questions about human sociality such as:

  • How do people behave in social dilemmas?
  • What makes us trust or distrust one another?
  • How do leaders behave in organizations?
  • How can teams manage their complex social dynamics?

To answer these questions, we draw from a broad range of research methods including surveys, economic games, observations, dynamic interaction analysis, cognitive and neuroscience methods.