Assistant professor

Björn Lindström

Assistant professor

Phone: +31 (0)20 59 86693


I am interested in the psychological, computational and neural mechanisms of social learning — how we learn from, and about each other. Social learning is crucial for human culture, and contributes to social norms, conformity, and ostracism, among many other important social phenomena. To understand social learning, I take an multi-methods approach that combines behavioral experiments, computational modeling of individual- and group-level processes, and neuroimaging.

I obtained a PhD in Psychology at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, in 2014. I then spent four years, funded by a Marie-Curie fellowship, at the Zürich Center for Neuroeconomics at the University of Zürich (with Philippe Tobler), and two years at the Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam (with David Amodio) as a postdoctoral researcher. I joined the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at VU Amsterdam as an Assistant Professor in 2020.

Research Interests

  • Social learning
  • Cultural evolution
  • Social decision-making
  • Social norms
  • Computional modeling
  • Reinforcement learning


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Recent publications

B Lindström, M Bellander, DT Schultner, A Chang, PN Tobler & DM Amodio (2021) A computational reward learning account of social media engagement. Nature communications 12 (1), 1-10
B Stillerman, B Lindström, D Schultner, L Hackel, D Hagen, N Jostmann & ... (2020) Internalization of societal stereotypes as individual prejudice. PsyArXiv
A Olsson, E Knapska & B Lindström (2020) The neural and computational systems of social learning. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 21 (4), 197-212
LM Hackel, JJ Berg, BR Lindström & DM Amodio (2019) Model-based and model-free social cognition: investigating the role of habit in social attitude formation and choice. Frontiers in psychology 10, 2592
L Hackel, JJ Berg, B Lindström & D Amodio (2019) Model-Based and Model-Free Social Cognition. PsyArXiv
B Lindström, M Bellander, A Chang, PN Tobler & DM Amodio (2019) A computational reinforcement learning account of social media engagement. PsyArXiv
B Lindström, A Golkar, S Jangard, PN Tobler & A Olsson (2019) Social threat learning transfers to decision making in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 (10), 4732-4737
B Lindström & PN Tobler (2018) Incidental ostracism emerges from simple learning mechanisms. Nature human behaviour 2 (6), 405-414
B Lindström, J Haaker & A Olsson (2018) A common neural network differentially mediates direct and social fear learning. NeuroImage 167, 121-129
B Lindström, S Jangard, I Selbing & A Olsson (2018) The role of a “common is moral” heuristic in the stability and change of moral norms.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 147 (2), 228
J Haaker, B Lindstroem, J Yi, P Petrovic & A Olsson (2017) Neuropharmacological regulation of social fear learning. JOURNAL OF NEURAL TRANSMISSION 124 (10), 1279-1280
B Lindström, I Selbing & A Olsson (2016) Co-evolution of social learning and evolutionary preparedness in dangerous environments. PloS one 11 (8), e0160245
T Molapour, B Lindström & A Olsson (2016) Aversive learning and trait aggression influence retaliatory behavior. Frontiers in psychology 7, 833
B Lindström, A Golkar & A Olsson (2015) A clash of values: Fear-relevant stimuli can enhance or corrupt adaptive behavior through competition between Pavlovian and instrumental valuation systems.. Emotion 15 (5), 668
B Lindström & A Olsson (2015) Mechanisms of social avoidance learning can explain the emergence of adaptive and arbitrary behavioral traditions in humans.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 144 (3), 688
B Lindström, J Haaker & A Olsson (2015) Neural and computational underpinnings of social threat learning. Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention
SC Soares, B Lindström, F Esteves & A Öhman (2014) The hidden snake in the grass: superior detection of snakes in challenging attentional conditions. PLoS one 9 (12), e114724
I Selbing, B Lindström & A Olsson (2014) Demonstrator skill modulates observational aversive learning. Cognition 133 (1), 128-139
B Lindström (2014) Socially dependent avoidance learning: mechanisms of adaptive behavior. Inst för klinisk neurovetenskap/Dept of Clinical Neuroscience
B Lindström, I Selbing, T Molapour & A Olsson (2014) Racial bias shapes social reinforcement learning. Psychological science 25 (3), 711-719

View full list of publications on Google Scholar