Sanne and Irene participate in ‘Health, Behaviour and Society’, UvA FMG conference 18 May 2019

Parallel sessions, afternoon

Understanding and Optimising Health Interventions
If we want to optimize intervention strategies to enhance human health, we need to understand how they work. This panel brings together researchers committed to understanding and optimizing health interventions, from four different departments (3 FMG; 1 Amsterdam UMC). They will integrate their theoretical and methodological expertise on health interventions to enhance our shared knowledge, and to explore and encourage future within- and between-faculty collaborations.  

  • Hilde Huizenga (Psychology)
  • Julia van Weert / Annemiek Linn (Communication Sciences)
  • Kim Oostrom / Linde Scholten (Pediatric Psychology; Amsterdam UMC)
  • Irene van de Vijver (Psychology)
  • Patty Leijten (Child Development)

Urban dynamics and health
The urban environment comes with specific impacts on people’s health: green spaces under pressure, (un) healthy food choices around every corner, recreational drug use. How do we deal with these? What role can policies play?

  • Socio-spatial analysis of health in cities, by Els Veldhuizen, Urban Planning
  • (Urban) environments, eating habits and health, by Sanne de Wit, Psychology
  • ‘Hassle-free’ highs in the city, by Mishra Swasti, Medical Anthropology


Discussion panel ‘Food, Health, and Sustainability’

Recent international reports like the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems but also the Global Environment Outlook Report ‘Healthy planet, healthy people’,  reconfirm the negative impacts of human consumption on both the planet and on human health. Both reports call for drastic changes in current and future consumption patterns and state that when we make healthy food choices – like less meat and dairy, more vegetables, sustainable food systems – this will not only benefit our own personal health but also our planet. There is a risk that such dietary and behavioural advice by scientific experts encounter public backlash. So, how can we motivate people to make other choices? How can we make sure that worldwide people will have equal access to sustainable food systems? What role can policies play?

Participants panel

Ron Dahl

Ron Dahl is director of the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor in the School of Public Health and the Joint Medical Program and Chief Science Officer at the Center for the Developing Adolescent.
Profile page Ron Dahl

Joyeeta Gupta

Joyeeta Gupta is full professor of environment and development in the global south at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam and IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft. She is presently co-chair of UN Environment’s Global Environmental Outlook-6 (2016-2019) which will be presented to 195 governments participating in the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019.
Profile page Joyeeta Gupta

Jaap Seidell

Jaap Seidell is Professor of nutrition and health (‘voeding en gezondheid’) and director of the Health Sciences Department at VU Amsterdam. He is also director of Sarphati Amsterdam (‘Research for Healthy Living’).
Profile page Jaap Seidell

Sanne de Wit

Sanne de Wit is Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. Her area of research and expertise concerns psychological and neural mechanisms underlying habitual behavior, associative learning and behavioral modification (see
Profile page Sanne de Wit 

Jonathan Zeitlin

Jonathan Zeitlin will chair this discussion panel. He is Professor of Public Policy and Governance, and Distinguished Faculty Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences (FMG) at the University of Amsterdam. He is also Scientific Director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES).
Profile page Jonathan Zeitlin


The panel takes place at the plenary venue of the conference, REC C 1.03. The  second panel is followed by a reception at De Brug.


Conference website and registration

Irene presents at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society

During the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco, Irene presented a poster on a current study in which we relate individual differences in habit tendency in the lab as well as habit formation in real life to the presence and quality of structural (white-matter) connections in the brain. The study was also selected for a Data Blitz presentation.

Sanne presents at the International Convention for Psychological Science 2019

At the ICPS Convention in Paris (7th-9th of March 2019), Sanne participated in a symposium on habits organized by Jan de Houwer – together with Eike Buabang, Helen Tibboel and Andreas Eder. She presented recent work with a newly developed experimental paradigm (‘the Sneaky Skate Game’), which can be used to assess the balance between goal-directed and habitual control in humans.

New paper in press: Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective

A new paper by George Aalbers, Richard McNally, Alexandre Heeren, Sanne de Wit and Eiko Fried will soon appear in Journal of Experimental Psychology – General. In this study, the authors investigated the relation between Passive social media use – e.g., scrolling through social media News Feeds – and depression symptoms.

Aalbers, G., McNally, R., Heeren, A., de Wit, S., & Fried, E.I. (in press). Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective. Journal of Experimental Psychology – General

New paper in press: an fMRI investigation of the conflict between goal-directed and habitual control

“Conflicted between goal-directed and habitual control – an fMRI investigation” by Poppy Watson, Guido van Wingen, and Sanne de Wit will soon appear in eNeuro.

In this functional MRI study we investigated the neural basis of performance on the slips-of-action paradigm -a task that has been used in previous studies to assess the balance between goal-directed and habitual control.

New theoretical article on an associative (outcome-response) account of instrumental behaviour

In this theoretical article, Poppy Watson, Reinout Wiers, Bernhard Hommel and Sanne de Wit review investigations of the role of outcome-response associations in goal-directed actions and habits.

Read the article here!

Watson, P., Wiers, R.W., Hommel, B., & de Wit, S. (2018). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

New publication on individual differences in habitual performance in experimental and real-life settings

The authors investigated whether people differ in their propensity to form habits, by relating individual differences on a computer task measuring habitual behavior to habit formation tendencies in real life. Habit formation in real life was measured by covering the key to the participant’s home with a new cover. This cover was later switched to a different key and changes in the key-selection process were measured. Participants that performed better on the computer task also seemed to require less attention to adjust to the switching key situation.

Read the article here!

Linnebank, F.E., Kindt, M. & de Wit, S. (2018). Investigating the balance between goal-directed and habitual control in experimental and real-life settings. Learning & Behavior.

New article on impaired goal-directed control in adolescent OCD

In this article, Julia Gottwald, Sanne de Wit, and colleagues investigated performance of teenagers with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) on critical cognitive domains for daily functioning and academic success, including goal-directed behavioral control, cognitive flexibility, learning, and memory. Patients demonstrated a significant learning and memory impairment compared to healthy control subjects, as well as impairments in goal-directed goal and cognitive plasticity. These results add to our understanding of  juvenile OCD.

Read the article here!

Gottwald, J., De Wit, S., Apergis-Schoute, A., Morein-Zamir, S., Kaser, M., Cormack, F., . . . Sahakian, B. (2018). Impaired cognitive plasticity and goal-directed control in adolescent obsessive–compulsive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 1-9.