Our research seeks to understand and improve children’s views of themselves. We build upon our shared values of curiosity and hard work.


Eva de Boer
Research assistant

Eva obtained her BA degree in Pedagogical Sciences and is currently pursuing her Research MA degree in Child Development and Education and her MA degree in Orthopedagogy at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

She is interested in the development of self-views, such as self-esteem and narcissism, and how they are associated with social relationships. She is involved in studies that aim to enhance parent-child closeness.


Justine Brüninghaus
Student assistant
Co-supervised with Erna van Hest, Patty Leijten, Bram Orobio de Castro, and Geertjan Overbeek

Justine is a third-year BA student in Pedagogical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. She previously interned at a counseling company where she worked towards helping children and their parents with developmental and educational problems. She currently works for a student organization where she writes scientific advice reports for companies that need help with solving pedagogical issues.

She works on a science communication project funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). This project uses citizen science to understand what inequality means to children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. The aim is to involve children in the scientific process, so that they become part of the knowledge creation process.


Çisem Gürel
Graduate student
Co-advised with Geertjan Overbeek, University of Amsterdam

Çisem obtained her BA and MA degree in Psychological Counseling and Guidance at Bogazici University, Turkey, and her Research MA degree in Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

She is interested in how children create and maintain views of themselves, such as narcissism and self-esteem. She investigates how children engage in comparison strategies, such as social comparisons (“I am better than others”) and temporal comparisons (“I am getting better over time”), and how those comparison strategies can be used as interventions to help children flourish.


Maud Hensums
Graduate student
Co-advised with Geertjan Overbeek and Helle Larsen, University of Amsterdam

Maud obtained her BA in Pedagogics at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, the Netherlands, and her pre-master degree in Orthopedagogics and Research MA degree in Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

She is interested in how social and cognitive processes shape adolescent behavior. She investigates how changing peer norms can improve self-regulation in youth, with the aim to reduce antisocial behavior – such as bullying – in high-schools.


Yixin Tang
Graduate student
Co-advised with Sander Thomaes and Sheida Novin, Utrecht University

Yixin obtained her BSc degree in Psychology and MEd degree in Developmental Psychology at Beijing Normal University, China.

She is interested in children emerging self-views, especially in middle to late childhood, when children gradually form domain-specific evaluations of their competence. She is also interested in the way children pursue desirable self views. She studies the self-system through a cross-cultural lens.

photo Kelly

Kelly Ziemer
Graduate student
Co-advised with Valerie Shapiro, University of California-Berkeley

Kelly obtained her Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA and her MSc in International Business from SKEMA Business School, France. She completed her Master of Social Work from CUNY-Hunter College, USA and is a licensed social worker in New York.

She is a therapist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based interventions. Kelly seeks to blend her practice experience with her research interests in emotions, prevention science, and behavioral health. Her dissertation explores the lay theory of self-love within a social media and addiction recovery context.



Stathis Grapsas, 2016-2021, Graduate student, co-advised with Jaap Denissen, Tilburg University. He obtained his PhD in 2021 and is now a postdoc at Utrecht University with Sander Thomaes. He is interested in self-views: how they develop, how they manifest, and how they become reinforced through interpersonal experiences. He is particularly interested in narcissism and investigates why and how narcissists pursue social status.

Lining Sun_short

Lining (Rachel) Sun, 2017-2019, Graduate student, co-advised with Carol Dweck, Stanford University. She obtained her PhD in 2019 and is now a postdoc at the National University of Singapore with Patricia Chen. She is interested in learning and motivation. Her passion lies in helping people thrive in a world that is filled with uncertainty. She investigates whether the current educational system is preparing its students for such kind of future and, if not, what we can do to improve that.