PhD student

Annika Karinen

PhD student

Phone: +31 20 59 84249
Room: MF-C-576

My PhD Project

Modern innovations can be tremendously useful in combatting contemporary environmental challenges such as climate change and overpopulation, and improve the lives and health of humans. I am interested in what makes people accept or reject these innovations, and how to increase acceptance of useful innovations. More specifically, I look at how individual differences in general openness to experience and behavioral immune system activation (i.e. sensitivity to disgust) influence acceptance versus rejection of modern innovations (e.g. in technology, energy, food or health). I further look at differences in attitudes toward innovations that either involve disgust-inducing stimuli (fecal transplants, recycled human waste, incorporating insects into Western cuisine) or do not involve such stimuli (self-driving cars, 3D printed organs, cloud storage). Also, using behavioral genetics, my project involves mapping the heritability of various variables relating to food, disgust sensitivity, personality and sexuality.

I also study how disgust sensitivity shapes attitudes toward immigrants, and how emotions influence the aesthetic appreciation of art and movies. I am interested in what makes people enjoy art that sparks negative emotions, such as fear, disgust or sadness, and why people take pleasure in horror and grotesque art.

My PhD research is supervised by Joshua Tybur and co-supervised by Reinout de Vries, and it is part of the ERC funded project “The Human Behavioral Immune System: Consequences for Health and Innovation”.

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in emotions, aesthetic and environmental psychology, and individual differences in personality. For instance, I am curious of the experiences of awe and wonder and their effects on self- and body perception, as well as their interaction with personality traits such as absorption or sensation seeking.


I obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology (with minors in philosophy and sociology) from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, and a research master degree in social psychology from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I did my master’s thesis at Brooklyn College in New York, and stayed there for a year doing follow-up research as a visiting scholar. The topics I have studied include facial emotion processing, agency and investment in language learning, depersonalization experiences, the effects of awe and wonder on body perception, and the influence of disgust sensitivity on moral judgment.

Recent publications

AK Karinen & HA Chapman (2018) Cognitive and personality correlates of trait disgust and their relationship to condemnation of non-purity moral transgressions. Emotion
JM Tybur, Ç Çınar, AK Karinen & P Perone (2018) Why do people vary in disgust?. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
M van Elk, A Karinen, E Specker, E Stamkou & M Baas (2016) ‘Standing in awe’: The effects of awe on body perception and the relation with absorption. Collabra: Psychology 2 (1)
M Harrison, M Uusipaikka, A Karinen, T Räsänen, D Raitala, R Ellonen & ... (2013) Bridging passion and profession: Supporting agency and investment in multilingual university writers. Language Learning in Higher Education 3 (1), 1-25

View full list of publications on Google Scholar