Dr. Jan-Willem van Prooijen


This website is designed to inform you about the research, teaching, and other academic activities of Dr. Jan-Willem van Prooijen. He currently works as an Associate Professor at the department of Experimental and Applied Psychology of VU Amsterdam, and as a Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR). The overarching topic of his research is legitimacy and ethics, which has three main thematic pillars: (1) distrust and conspiracy theories, (2) unethical behavior, and (3) radical ideologies. More details of Dr. van Prooijen’s research on these issues can be found under “research”. Dr. van Prooijen published his research findings in journals such as Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and presented his research at many international conferences around the world. He received research funding from various sources, and was in 2006 awarded the Early Career Contribution Award by the International Society for Justice Research (ISJR). He is currently Associate Editor for Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, has been Associate Editor for European Journal of Social Psychology and Social Justice Research, and has been on the Editorial Board of various prestigious journals, including JPSP-IRGP and Psychological Science. He was president of ISJR from 2016 to 2018.

What’s new?

New Books:

1. Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). The moral punishment instinct. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

For an overview of contents click HERE

2. Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Oxon, UK: Routledge. 

For an overview of contents click HERE

Recent publications:

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Krouwel, A. P. M. (in press). Psychological features of extreme political ideologies. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Abstract

Dong, M., van Prooijen, J.-W., Wu, S., Zhang, Y., & Jin, S. (in press). Prosocial attitudes toward money from terror management perspective: Death transcendence through spirituality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (in press). Belief in conspiracy theories: Gullibility or rational skepticism? Chapter to appear in J. P. Forgas and R. F. Baumeister (Eds.), Homo Credulus: The social psychology of gullibility. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (in press). Populism as political mentality underlying conspiracy theories. Chapter to appear in B. Rutjens and M. Brandt (Eds.), Belief systems and the perception of reality. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (in press). Empowerment as a tool to reduce belief in conspiracy theories. In J. Uscinski (Ed.), Conspiracy theories and the people who believe in them. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Douglas, K. M. (2018). Belief in conspiracy theories: Basic principles of an emerging research domain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 897-908.  (Editorial Special Issue) . Abstract Read the article HERE (open access)

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Van Vugt, M. (2018). Conspiracy theories: Evolved functions and psychological mechanisms. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13, 770-788.  Abstract Read the article HERE (open access)

Van Prooijen, J.-W., Staman, J., & Krouwel, A. P. M. (2018). Increased conspiracy beliefs among ethnic and Muslim minorities. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 32, 661-667. Abstract Read the article HERE (open access)

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). Moral demands truly are externally imposed. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41, E115.

Pereira, A., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). Why we sometimes punish the innocent: The role of group entitativity in collective punishment. PloS ONE, 13(5): e0196852.  Open Access, read HERE

Van Prooijen, J.-W., Douglas, K., & De Inocencio, C. (2018). Connecting the dots: Illusory pattern perception predicts belief in conspiracies and the supernatural. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 320-335.  Abstract

Van Prooijen, J.-W., Krouwel, A. P. M., & Emmer, J. (2018). Ideological responses to the EU refugee crisis: The left, the right, and the extremes. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 143-150.  Abstract

Van Gelder, J.-L., Martin, C., Van Prooijen, J.-W., De Vries, R., Marsman, M., Averdijk, M., Reynald, D., & Donker, T. (2018). Seeing is believing? Comparing negative affect, realism, and presence in visual versus written guardianship scenarios. Deviant Behavior, 39, 461-474.   

Ståhl, T. & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). Epistemic rationality: Skepticism toward unfounded beliefs requires sufficient cognitive ability and motivation to be rational. Personality and Individual Differences, 122, 155-163.

Krouwel, A., Kutiyski, Y., Van Prooijen, J.-W., Martinsson, J., & Markstedt, E. (2017). Does extreme political ideology predict conspiracy beliefs, economic evaluations and political trust? Evidence from Sweden. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 5, 435-462read the article HERE (open access)

Ljujic, V., Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Weerman, F. (2017). Beyond the crime-terror nexus: Socio-economic status, violent crimes, and terrorism. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy, and Practice, 3, 158-172.

Strelan, P., Difiore, C., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2017). The empowering effect of punishment on forgiveness. European Journal of Social Psychology, 47, 472-487.

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Douglas, K. M. (2017). Conspiracy theories as part of history: The role of societal crisis situations. Memory Studies, 10, 323-333.  Abstract

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Krouwel, A. P. M. (2017). Extreme political beliefs predict dogmatic intolerance. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 292-300Abstract

Köbis, N., Van Prooijen, J.-W., Righetti, F., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2017). The road to bribery and corruption: Slippery slope or steep cliff? Psychological Science, 28, 297-306. Abstract

Van Gelder, J.-L., Nee, C., Otte, M., Demetriou, A., Sintemaartensdijk, I., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2017). Virtual burglary: Exploring the potential of virtual reality to study burglary in action. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 54, 29-62.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2017). Why education predicts decreased belief in conspiracy theories. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31, 50-58.   Abstract    Read the article HERE (open access) 

Tan, X., Van Prooijen, J.-W., Proulx, T., Wu, H., Van Beest, I., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2017). Reacting to unexpected losses in an uncertain world: High approach individuals become even more risk-seeking. Personality and Individual Differences, 109, 117-123.


Other news from Dr. van Prooijen's research group:

- The December 2018 issue of European Journal of Social Psychology is a Special Issue about conspiracy theories, guest-edited by Karen Douglas and Jan-Willem van Prooijen. Check it out HERE.

- Read HERE a short piece that Dr. van Prooijen wrote for NBC news about the Qanon conspiracy theory (13 August 2018).

- Dr. van Prooijen was awarded the 2018 "excellence in teaching award" of the sections Social Psychology and Work & Organizational Psychology at VU Amsterdam. 

- Since the Summer 2018, Dr. van Prooijen is chair of the KLI teaching committee.

- On 16 February 2018, Nils Kobis successfully defended his PhD thesis "The Social Psychology of Corruption" and was awarded the distinction "Cum Laude". Congratulations, Dr. Nils!

- Together with Prof. Christianne de Poot and Prof. Jan de Keijser, Dr. van Prooijen edited a special issue for "Tijdschrift voor Criminologie" about 'Experimenten in de Criminologie' (Experiments in Criminology) (June, 2017).

- Dr. van Prooijen co-presented the BNN reality TV program "dat wordt oorlog!". The program illuminates how to create conflict between two groups, inspired by the Robbers Cave Experiment. The show was  broadcasted on Dutch TV (NPO3) in four episodes, 25 April to 16 May 2017. Please see the trailer HERE. Watch the episodes HERE.

- Together with Dr. Jean-Louis van Gelder, Iris van Sintemaartensdijk, and Prof. van Lange, Dr. van Prooijen was awarded a grant by "Politie en Wetenschap" for a project on burglary behavior in a virtual environment.