Paul van Lange

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+31 20 59 88852
faculteit der gedrags- en bewegingswetenschappen ( sectie sociale & organisatiepsychologie )

Professional interests




Paul Van Lange is Professor of Social Psychology and Chair of the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at the VU University at Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Distinguished Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Most of his research on human cooperation and trust is grounded in psychological and evolutionary theorizing of social interdependence, through which he seeks to understand the functions of forgiveness, generosity, empathy, fairness, morality, retaliation, competition, as well as general beliefs of human nature in various situations. His work has been recognized several grants and awards, including the Kurt Lewin Medal by the European Association of Social Psychology. He has published around 150 articles, many of which have received considerable impact in not only psychology, but also in experimental economics, evolutionary (game) theory, and social neuroscience. With various colleagues around the globe, Van Lange has published several books, including the Atlas of Interpersonal Situations (Published by Cambridge, 2003), the Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology (Published by Sage, 2012), Politics, Power, and Paranoia (Cambridge, 2014), and Social Dilemmas: The Psychology of Human Cooperation (Published by Oxford, 2014). He served as Associate Editor for various journals, such as Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Psychological Science, is founding editor of an interdisciplinary series on Human Cooperation (Published by Oxford), Current Opinion in Psychology, and has served as Director of the Kurt Lewin Institute (KLI) and as President of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP).

(a) Human prosociality - is the humankind inherently selfish, or are there broader concerns?
(b) Functionality of forgiveness, sacrifice, and generosity - when does prosociality work?
(c) The power of trust - the functions, how one looses trust, and how one builds and repairs trust
(d) The regulation of inequality - as a source of retaliation, aggression, and norm violations

These research interests are rooted in my belief that one of the most important tasks for governments, authorities, and other leaders is to manage social dilemmas in society.  Social dilemmas are conflicts between self-interest and collective interest, and are chronically challenging the the functioning of relationships, organisations, and nations.  Overconsuming natural resources, tendencies to free-riding, tax evasion, resolving trust dilemmas, and over-implementation of formal rules and bureaucracy.  Social dilemmas have always been everywhere.  They cross the borders of time and space. 

For Publications and CV, see

CV here




Five selected publications (2013-2014)

Balliet D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2013).  Trust, conflict, and cooperation:  A meta analysis.  Psychological Bulletin, 139, 1090-1112.

Van Bommel, M., Van Prooijen, J. W., Elffers, H., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (in press).  Intervene to be seen: The power of a camera in attenuating the bystander effect.  Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Van Doesum, N. J., Van Lange, D. A. W., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2013).  Social mindfulness:  Skill and will to navigate the social world.  Journal of Personalityand Social Psychology, 105, 86-103

Van Lange, P. A. M. (2013).  What we should expect from theories in social psychology:  Truth, abstraction, progress, and applicability as standards (TAPAS). Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17, 40-55. 

Van Lange, P. A. M. Joireman, J., Parks, C. D., & Van Dijk, E. (2013).  The psychology of social dilemmas:  A review.  Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 120, 125-141.

Recent books (2012-2014)

Van Prooijen, J. W., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2014, Eds).  Power, politics, and paranoia: Why people are suspicious of their leaders.  Cambridge University Press.

Van Lange, P. A. M., Balliet, D. P., Parks, C. D., & Van Vugt, M. (2014). Social dilemmas:  The psychology of human cooperation.  Oxford University Press.

Van Lange, P. A. M., Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (2012, Eds).  Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology (Volume 1).  Thousand Oaks, Ca, Sage.

Van Lange, P. A. M., Rockenbach, B., & Yamagishi, T. (2014, Eds).  Social dilemmas: New perspectives on reward and punishment. New York: Oxford University Press. 




My teaching mission is to inspire students not only to become broadly interested in the social, biological and culture aspects of issues as intriguing as egoism and altruism, trust, fairness, obedience, forgiveness as well as norm vioations, corruption, competition (spite), and retaliation.  I would also like students to develop theoretical, methodological, and reasoning skills that are important to (a) understanding the"logic" underlying these phenomena, thereby appreciating careful and thorough scientific analysis; (b) translating key ideas into innovative and creative design and method for empirical study (and the reporting thereof); and (c) adopting a broader perspective that helps to see links among various scientific fields and disciplines and to understand key societal issues that are around us - such as the economic crisis, public goods, environmental issues, intergroup hostility, aggression in sport, trust in authority, and helping and philantropy. 

Apart from supervision of MA students, PhD students, and Post-Docs, I teach in the Research Master Social Psychology, a course entitled Bridging Social Psychology and an expert workshop on Interdependence.  I also give guest lectures, interviews, and presentations in various settings (including the various media) on topics such as as altruism and egoism, trust, helping, safety in society, sport, environmental issues, communication by the government and other authorities.


American Psychological Association - Medewerker Washington DC, 02 december 2013
Society of Experimental Social Psychology - Bestuurder Kansas, 01 mei 2014
Elsevier - Chief Editor Current Opinion in Psychology Amsterdam, 20 mei 2014
De Essenburgh - Docent cursus Psychologie aan Burgemeesters Hierden, 20 december 2016
Laatste wijzigingen Nevenwerkzaamheden: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017