My background is in literary theory and comparative literature. I conducted my Ph.D.-research (1998) at the department of Literary Studies at Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, US). I specialized in the psychology of literature, focusing on the effects of reading literary texts on outgroup attitudes and moral self-concept. On this subject I published several books and articles, among which The moral laboratory. Experiments examining the effects of reading literature on social perception and moral self-concept (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2000), and in 2004 ‘Foregrounding and its effects on readers’ perception’ (Discourse Processes, 38, 193-218). From 1998 to 2001 I conducted my (postdoc) research at the Free University of Amsterdam, looking at aspects of literary communication that may be responsible for the effects of reading on intergroup attitudes. Since 2001 I am lecturer at the Institute for Media and Culture Studies (Utrecht University), and conduct studies concerning the reception of film. I train students in the Humanities in research methods, especially experimentation. On this subject I recently finalized a handbook (Muses and measures: Research methods for the humanities, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007) in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Will van Peer (University of Munich) and Dr. Sonia Zyngier (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro). I lead two national research projects. The first is entitled “Varieties of Absorption in Narrative, and Aesthetic Experiences: A Comparative Study of Responses to Literature and Film.”
The second concerns Uses of Literary Narrative Fiction in Social Contexts, in which we look at the way reading literature can help us understand ourselves and others better. We examine the way this might stimulate reading motivation in the context of literary education, and facilitate coaching in management.