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Roos Vonk Ph.D.


Roos Vonk, Ph.D., is a psychologist and full professor at Radboud University Nijmegen. In addition, she writes books, articles and gives lectures to make scientific insights accessible and applicable to a broader audience.

Roos (pronounced Rose) Vonk obtained her Ph.D. at Leiden University, on research into the perception of persons. After that, she investigated the effects of ingratiation in person perception and discovered that flattery is more effective than most people will admit. The "ego" is quite important in social interaction. As a result, her attention shifted: She investigated topics such as self-enhancement, self-compassion, and self-deception. She discovered that the ego is always looking for ways to enhance itself, even through spirituality (spiritual narcissism).

The ego is also a huge barrier when it comes to behaviour change, particularly in the realm of moral issues, such as climate and animal welfare. As a result, social persuasion can evoke strong resistance. She teaches about this in the Master's program Behavior Change at Radboud University’s Behavior Sciences Institute.

In addition, she teaches about the unconscious self and the so-called psychological immune system, by which people unconsciously twist and distort information and engage in self-justification in order to feel better about themselves, their lives, and their environment. In so doing, they impede their own possibilities for development and self-improvement.

These psychological mechanisms restrain us not only as individuals but also as a society. In recent years, she has also started researching this with her students, for example, investigating the influence of system justification and social dominance orientation on people's attitudes towards climate policies, animals, and human-animal relationships; and the ways in which do-gooders (i.e., vegetarians) can alter their communication style to reduce resistance.

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