Recent societal impact projects (scroll down for more)

As the new Director of Continuing Education at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Utrecht University, I try to help teachers and researchers to share knowledge and create positive societal impact.

In 2023-2024, I take part in the assessment committee of the NWO Open Competition (Large). It is inspiring to read the proposals and see how they are evaluated by the committee members. 

As a behavioral expert for the UU Climate Helpdesk I try to provide academic answers to questions from audience members on climate-related behavior, such as 'How does my choice to fly less lead to fewer flights?'

I had the opportunity to open the academic year 2023-2024 of Utrecht University in the Dom Church with a keynote speech on public engagement entitled Public engagement: Niet meer, maar beter. Click on the photo to go to the video registration.

In September 2023, I contributed to a CASI session of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality to develop a consumer campaign to encourage consumers to buy organic fresh products more often. 

Our pilot study 'Weten versus beleven' on effective behavioural change in organisations took place in September 2023. The study will be part of Lena Rieder's thesis and benefits greatly from our close collaboration with change expert Coen Jutte.

April 2023. The insights of the IMPACTLAB have been incorporated into this well-thought-out, readable and realistic action plan for the Nationaal Expertisecentrum Wetenschap & Samenleving, written by Alex Verkade and Ionica Smeets. Interested to read the plan? Click on the photo.

At the PCST Conference in April 2023, our IMPACTLAB provided a 4-hour workshop on science communication and its impact, together with the German Impact Unit. Great location in the Natural History Museum among stuffed reindeer and chickens!

Very happy that our research on defeating chronic pain was awarded another round of funding from the Centre for Unusual Collaborations. On to an expertise platform where scientists from different disciplines collaborate with patients and medical professionals to defeat chronic pain!

Giving a keynote speech at Cinekid for Professionals on the importance of humor for the social, cognitive and emotional development of children. It was a delight to see so many examples of great children's television and films that are full of wonderful storytelling and humor!

On tour at different science centers and musea to collect data for a large national study on the role of humor in communication (Publieksonderzoek Weekend van de Wetenschap). In collaboration with TV show Het Klokhuis.

Conducting a live experiment on the persuasive impact of humor in stage comedy at the Betweter Festival 2022. Together with co-researchers Mark Boukes, Giselinde Kuipers and Dick Zijp, and with the help of two professional comedians.

Many thanks to KNAW for generously acknowledging the IMPACTLAB toolbox for measuring the impact of science communication in their insightful handbook Wetenschapscommunicatie door wetenschappers: Gewaardeerd!

Main researcher of an empirical study on the impact of the Betweter Festival on the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of the visitors. In collaboration with Stephanie Helfferich, Jessie Waalwijk and the Centre for Science and Culture at Utrecht University. 

How to measure the impact of science communication? Our IMPACTLAB shared our best tips & and tricks at the Nationale Wetenschapscommunicatiedag (NWD). And of course, we created the Bingo-style measure to assess the impact of the NWD itself!

Talking about the impact of humor in communication at the Radio 1 program Spraakmakers as Spraakmaker van de Dag (Talker of the Day).

With a number of fellows of the public engagement pillar of the Utrecht University Open Science Program, we wrote a position paper on meaningful public engagement in the context of open science.

Researcher in a collaborative study with Artis/Planetarium to investigate the impact of visiting the Planetarium on visitors' motivation for sustainable behavior. With Félice van Nunspeet and Naomi Ellemers. Click on the picture for more information.

Organizing and teaching the course "How to write a policy brief" at the Social, Health, and Organizational Psychology department. In collaboration with Peter Franx from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

Co-authoring a chapter on the social functions of humor for the interdisciplinary Handbook of Humor Research with sociology professor and humor research authority Giselinde Kuipers of KU Leuven.

Doing live experiments on humor at "The Funniest Festival Ever", a festival of comedy, debate, and science in Den Bosch. In collaboration with Mark Boukes, Giselinde Kuipers, Dick Zijp and the Koningstheateracademie.

Public lecture "Why are people with humor so wildly attractive?" for the Universiteit van Nederland (University of The Netherlands, a platform where scientists from Dutch universities give free lectures on the internet).

Our research group was granted a KNAW award for ongoing commitment to science communication.

Researcher in an NWA-funded project "Measuring science communication impact", with Anne Land-Zijlstra and Ward Peeters. We develop a toolbox to measure the output, outcome, and impact of public engagement activities.

Working on an Utrecht Young Academy-funded research program on the experience and appreciation of interdisciplinary research. With Ilona Domen, Jarno Hoekman, and Yvonne Vercoulen.

Awarded a research grant by the Centre for Unusual Collaborations for the research project Defeating Chronic Pain. This is a collaboration between the universities of Eindhoven, Utrecht and Wageningen. Click on the picture for more information.

Our children’s book about psychology (Tussen je oren) is used in an outreach project about social safety for children at primary schools. Click on the picture to visit the project website.

Member of the assessment committee of the Public Engagement Seed Fund, an opportunity for Utrecht University academics to apply for a small grant to undertake innovative public engagement activities.

Fellow of the Public Engagement pillar of the UU-wide Open Science Program. Member of the Open Science Team of the social sciences faculty (FOST).

Wouter Boon, Carien Duisterwinkel, Marian Thunnissen, and I published an advisory report on stakeholder engagement at Utrecht University, commissioned by the Public Engagement pillar of the Utrecht Open Science Program. 

Public lectures, for example on Moral Boundaries of Humor for Studium Generale Groningen, February 2020. Click on the picture to see the full lecture.

Monthly column (until 2020) about the impact of humor at work on People Power Radio, a podcast presented by Glenn van der Burg about the power of people in organisations. 

Developing and teaching the course “Storytelling for Scientists” for KLI members and UU PhD students.

(Picture Source: Rebeca Zuñiga. License CC 2.0/ Flickr rebe_zuniga)

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Toestemmen & tonen

Helping high school students with their "profielwerkstuk". Click on the picture for an example: a short documentary by Yili Kong en Tessa van Kesteren on the behavioral influence of advertising.

Weekend van de Wetenschap

Developing the Nationaal Publiekonderzoek on the topic of humor. This is an initiative of several partners (e.g. Ministry of OCW, NEMO Kennislink) to promote research with a broad appeal (with Noortje Coppens and Mario de Jonge.

Co-producing Mindlab, a theater play to improve the work climate at Dutch universities (with Ellen Giebels, Naomi Ellemers, Aukje Nauta, and TheaterMakers Radio Kootwijk).

My popular science book on the psychology of humor appeared in 2020 with Uitgeverij Balans.


Testing our model on effective public engagement at the Betweterfestival (with the Utrecht Centre for Science and Culture, 2019).

Blogging for DUB magazine, the Digital University Journal (40.000-45.000 unique visitors per month, 2017-2019).

Kurt Lewin Instituut

Setting up KLI Research, a platform that facilitates research collaborations between KLI members and external organizations (2019).

Advising the Ellemers lab of Utrecht University ( on science communication and societal impact 

Setting up the KLI Academy, an educational platform where members of the Kurt Lewin Graduate school teach psychology to professionals in external organizations (2018).

From parochialism to an inclusive city. A public engagement / research project on a film intervention to improve intergroup relations in Utrecht (with Lars Tummers, Utrecht Young Academy, and Utrecht municipality, 2018).

Developing "Waar of niet Waar?", a public engagement project where we train primary school children to do experimental research on humor (2018, with the Utrecht Young Academy and the Wetenschapsknooppunt).

Developing the popular science event “Social Animal”, where KLI members present their latest work to a broader audience and media (> 200 paying non-members, 2018).

Creating a new website that highlights the work and services of KLI members to the outside world (2018).

Tussen je oren

Tussen je oren. A children’s book about psychology (2017, Prometheus, with Ap Dijksterhuis).

Research with comedian Guido Weijers on the impact of the “Oudejaarsconference” on reflection and attitude change in the audience (2017).