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 received his PhD from Leiden University in 2002, and 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). Dr. van Prooijen is interested in the dark side of human beings, and his research has three main thematic pillars: (1) 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 work in journals such as Perspectives on Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and published various books including The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories (Routledge, 2018) and The Moral Punishment Instinct (Oxford University Press, 2018). 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. K. (in press). Overclaiming knowledge predicts anti-establishment voting. Social Psychological and Personality Science. Read the article HERE (open access). Download supplementary materials HERE.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (in press). An existential threat model of conspiracy theories. European Psychologist. read HERE.

Van Prooijen, J.-W., Klein, O., & Milošević Đorđević, J. (in press). Social-cognitive processes underlying belief in conspiracy theories. In M. Butter & P. Knight (Eds.), Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Van Prooijen, J.-W., Douglas, K. M., Cichocka, A., & Bilewicz, M. (in press). Psychology section – Introduction. In M. Butter & P. Knight (Eds.), Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Van Sintemaartensdijk, I., Van Gelder, J.-L., Van Lange, P. A. M., Otte, M., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (forthcoming). Virtual Reality als onderzoeksmethode om inbrekers te doorgronden. Research report, Politie & Wetenschap.

Kutiyski, Y., Krouwel, A. P. M., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (in press). Political extremism and distrust: Does radical political orientation predict distrust and negative attitudes towards European integration? The Social Science Journal.

Fousiani, K., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2019). Reactions to offenders: Psychological differences between beliefs versus punishments. British Journal of Social Psychology, 58, 894-916. Open access, read HERE.

Neve, R., Eris, S., Weerman, F., van Prooijen, J.-W., Ljujic, V., & Versteegt, I. (2019). Radicalisering in problematische jeugdgroepen. Research report, NSCR and NCTV.

Dong, M., Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2019). Self-enhancement in moral hypocrisy: Moral superiority and moral identity are about better appearances. PloS ONE 14(7): e0219382. Open access, read HERE

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories: Gullibility or rational skepticism? In J. P. Forgas and R. F. Baumeister (Eds.), Homo Credulus: The social psychology of gullibility (pp. 319-332). Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Krouwel, A. P. M. (2019). Psychological features of extreme political ideologies. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 159-163. Abstract Open Access, read HERE

De Vries, R. E., & Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2019). Voters rating politicians’ personality: Evaluative biases and assumed similarity on honesty-humility and openness to experience. Personality and Individual Differences, 144, 100-104.

Dong, M., van Prooijen, J.-W., Wu, S., Zhang, Y., & Jin, S. (2019). Prosocial attitudes toward money from terror management perspective: Death transcendence through spirituality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 29, 1-17.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2019). Empowerment as a tool to reduce belief in conspiracy theories. In J. Uscinski (Ed.), Conspiracy theories and the people who believe in them (pp. 432-442). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Read HERE

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. (2018). Populism as political mentality underlying conspiracy theories. In B. Rutjens and M. Brandt (Eds.), Belief systems and the perception of reality (pp. 79-96). Oxon, UK: Routledge. Read HERE

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.


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

- On 16 October 2019, Xiaoyue Tan (VU) successfully defended her PhD thesis on the psychology of loss management. Congratulations, Dr. Xiaoyue!

- On 2 October 2019, Maud van Bavel (NSCR) successfully defended her PhD thesis on active guardianship. Congratulations, Dr. Maud!

- As of 1 September 2019, Haiyan Wang works as a PhD student in Dr. van Prooijen’s research group. Supported by a CSC scholarship, her project is on the relationships between conspiracy theories, extremism, and crime.

- The book “The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories” (2018; Routledge) is currently being translated in Korean and in Turkish.

- 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!