BiographyAt a very general level, I examine context effects in social judgments and decision making. When I became a student at the University of Heidelberg, my mind was set on becoming a social psychologist. First, I was attracted by critical approaches (topics and methods), and then I became heavily socialized in social cognition research. I very much enjoyed working for and with Herbert Bless. Through him, Klaus Fiedler, Norbert Schwarz, and others, I became familiar with the then contemporary social psychological approaches (in the 90s). I met many renown social psychologists who visited Heidelberg (either on their sabbatical or giving a talk in our colloquium) or at conferences. I was impressed and enthusiastic about social psychological research and about the opportunity to develop a career in this area of research.
In the late 90s, I was involved in research on assimilation and contrast effects in social judgments and people's responses to affective experiences, and the impact of conversational processes on people's judgments and decisions. This built on the research of Norbert Schwarz and Fritz Strack. After Dan Gilbert gave talks in Heidelberg and Grasellenbach (at a conference organized by Herbert Bless and Joe Forgas), many of us became interested in affective forecasting. I then started doing research in this area, supported by Herbert Bless.
This is the more professional summary of that phase: The assimilation and contrast effects we investigated related to the impact of exemplars (e.g., a star politician) on judgments of others (e.g., other politicians) and groups (e.g., political parties), and moderating variables (Bless, Igou, Schwarz, & Wänke, 2000; Wänke, Bless, & Igou, 2001). Almost parallel to this research, we worked on the impact of conversational rules on social judgments and decisions. This interest is especially reflected in my dissertation, in which I investigated the impact of conversational rules on the emergence of order effects in one- and two-sided communications (Igou & Bless, 2003, 2007). I then investigated how lay theories about the progression of affect (continuity vs. decrease) and how different perspectives (self vs. other) influence the predictions that people make about affective states (Igou, 2004, 2008).
About 1.5 years after my dissertation, I was granted a 2-year post-doctoral scholarship. During my post-doctoral fellowship at New York University (2002-2004). I started working with Yaacov Trope at New York University on affective influences on self-regulation. I also worked with Michael Schober at the New School University on conversational implications of survey features. It was an amazing time at both universities, and I am grateful for the support that I received from Yaacov and from Michael. The post-doc was more an intellectual growth process than one that led to many publications or long-term collaborations.
Here is the more professional summary of that phase: We examined how positive mood influences self-control dilemmas in self-evaluative situations (Gervey, Igou, & Trope, 2005; Trope, Igou, & Burke, 2006).
Towards the end of my post-doc, I was not completely sure where to continue my career (and life). I felt that did not have to go back to Germany. I spotted that Tilburg University was hiring a lecturer. During my post-doc, I became interested in regret (by the way, in 2018 I finally published a paper on regret) and was thus familiar with some of Marcel Zeelenberg's research. He was in the process of rebuilding social psychology in Tilburg. I got the job. I continued with some research ideas that Yaacov Trope and I developed at NYU. This project did not work as I hoped it would, unfortunately. However, the post-doc experience with Yaacov shaped my views and interests and developed into something else.
In 2006, I developed ideas that shaped my research until now. They were based on my initial interests that brought me into psychology (existentialism, motivated reasoning), my experiences with Herbert, Michaela, and Norbert (person perception), and my experiences with Yaacov (self-regulation) - in a way this has become my social psychology stew with a large cup of existentialism.
In Tilburg, I founded my own lab group. Many excellent students joined. Among those was Wijnand van Tilburg, in his second year of study. We examined the effects of existential concerns (through mortality and life salience) on worldview defense (e.g., ideological judgments; Van Tilburg & Igou, 2011). We then examined the effects of affective experiences such as boredom and loneliness on what we would call 'meaning-regulation', inspired by a publication of Heine, Proulx, and Vohs (2006). Important for me was that this research brought me back to the literature of Erich Fromm, which was very formative for me before and during my undergraduate study.
In August of 2008, I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick (Ireland), Wijnand joined me and became the first Ph.D. graduate of the Department. At UL, I developed two master courses and served as HoD for 3 years. The time from 2010 to 2013 was poor in output and life satisfaction. However, we continued with our ideas and laid the foundation for exciting research.
Wijnand van Tilburg and I investigated the effects of boredom on people's sense of meaningfulness of life and their activities (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2012, 2017) and how boredom, in turn, leads to meaning-repair attempts such as social identification with one's in-group (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2011). Together with Constantine Sedikides, we also showed that boredom increases nostalgia as one form of meaning-repair strategy (Van Tilburg, Igou, & Sedikides, 2013). Together with Andrew Moynihan, we examined a particular form of meaning-repair: the withdrawal from the conflicted self (e.g., Moynihan et al., 2015; Moynihan, Igou, & Van Tilburg, 2017). Recently, we published a manuscript that very much summarizes our ideas on happiness ('happiness bias') and meaning, people's illusions about happiness, and the functions of these illusions (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2018).
Wijnand van Tilburg and I have worked on a variety of additional projects since the mid-2000s. In a project on decisions in navigation tasks (e.g., walking through a maze), we document that people normally use an 'action continuation strategy' (e.g., moving onwards) in navigation situations, unless a change in direction is required (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2014). A couple of our publications document the impact of particular simple cues on person perception. We document that eccentricity boosts perceived skills of artists and the quality of art. Examples here are Van Gogh and Lady Gaga (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2014). In another project, we demonstrate the impact that middle name initials have on person perception: Middle initials increase perceptions of status and intellectual capacity and performance (Van Tilburg & Igou, 2014; Igou & Van Tilburg, 2015).
Frederieke van Dongen and I investigated the effects of positive emotions on moral decision making. Candice Condon, Tim Ritchie and I have worked on shared memory effects (Condon, Ritchie, & Igou, 2015). Elaine Kinsella, Tim Ritchie, and I have investigated the characteristics and functions of heroes (Kinsella, Ritchie, & Igou, 2015a, 2015b). Our heroism project has grown and is ongoing (Coughlan, Igou, Van Tilburg, Kinsella & Ritchie, 2017; Kinsella, Igou, & Ritchie, 2017; Kinsella, Ritchie, & Igou, 2017).
What would be existentialism without the question of free will'? Not much. As part of his dissertation, Andrew Moynihan has examined the effects of free will beliefs on belongingness (e.g., Moynihan, Igou, & Van Tilburg, 2017) and conformity (Moynihan, Igou, & Van Tilburg, 2018).
Meaning has its opposite: no meaning. Paul Maher did his Ph.D. with us on epistemic emotions (Maher, Van Tilburg, & Igou, 2019) and in particular on disillusionment. We examined the experience of disillusionment and how people respond to this state of negated meaning. We recently published a journal article that examined political polarization as a function of disillusionment, linking it to Brexit and the election of Mr. Trump (Maher, Igou, & Van Tilburg, 2018).
2016-17: I was on a 1-year sabbatical from August 2016 to July 2017. I stayed at the University of Michigan (Institute for Social Research), primarily working with Shinobu Kitayama and with Ethan Kross. I stayed at King's College London, working with Wijnand van Tilburg. And, I stayed at the University of Mannheim, primarily working with Herbert Bless and with Christiane Schöl. All hosts were fantastic - it was a great year, academically and non-academically.
SOCO-UL Lab (Social Cognition Lab at UL)
My research group usually consists of undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. students. The current members of the lab group are: Stephen Casey, , Rob MacRory-Crowley, Dara McCormack, Grainne Nic Chormaic, Aimen Kakar, Katarzyna Splawska, Patrick Leonard, Cillian McHughs, Andrew Moynihan, Aoife Whiston.
* Since 2008 (University of Limerick): Erin Beal, Emily Braham, John J. Casey, Ciaran Clery, Rebekah Corscadden, Ann Cronin, Roisin Curtin, Romée Gerritsen (Erasmus, Utrecht University) Lisa Healy, Michelle Hess, Karina Jonina, Elaine Kinsella, Maksymilian Kropinski, Eimear Minogue, Alicia La Perle, Eimear Minogue, Andrew Moynihan, Velichko Fetvadjiev (a former student from Tilburg!), Gary O'Connor, Kevin O'Malley, Niamh O'Reilly, Meghan O'Sullivan, Paul J. Maher, Vincent Marrinan, Daniel McCarthy, Michael Murphy, Mary Parkinson, Kate Ryan, Hanna Reinacher (Erasmus, University of Marburg), Gordon Sayre (visiting from The College of New Jersey), Sarah Sheehan, Frederieke van Dongen, Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg (now King's College London), Laura Walshe, Maria Wiemer (Erasmus, University of Marburg), and Caroline Young.
* 2004-2008 (Tilburg University: Social Cognition and Decision Making Lab): Esther Barten, Philippe van de Calseyde, Peggy Emmerink, Sanne Koevoets, Jain Holsheimer, Joris Mulder, Yvette van Osch, Anne-Lieke Piggen, Thijs Poels, Yaniv Shani (now Tel-Aviv University), Ruud Smolders, and Lonneke van der Linde.
Ph.D. Students at UL
Primary Supervisor of Rob Macrory-Crowley, Niamh O'Reilly, Aoife Whiston, Muireann O'Dea.
Supervised to completion: Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg (IRCHSS funded), Frederieke van Dongen (IRCHSS funded), Paul Maher (IRC funded), Andrew Moynihan, Elaine Kinsella (co-supervised), and Candice Condon (co-supervised; IRCHSS funded).
The European Social Cognition Network (ESCON) is an organization that supports social cognition research in Europe. ESCON is now represented in the Republic of Ireland, funded in part by the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the European Science Foundation (ESF). In 2011, I organized with colleagues an ESCON Expert Meeting on Meaning-Regulation in Limerick and ESCON's Transfer of Knowledge Conference (TKC) in Sligo.
In 2009, I developed and organized the first Conference on Social Psychology in Ireland (C-SPI) with the support of colleagues in the department. The conference took place on May 28-29 at the University of Limerick, with keynote addresses by Professor Constantine Sedikides (University of Southampton) and Professor Stephen Reicher (University of St. Andrews). In 2011, the 2nd C-SPI was organised by my colleague Anca Minescu. The next C-SPI is planned for 2013. For more information about C-SPI feel free to contact me or visit the website of our department (www.ul.ie/psychology, then click on News & Events).
Curriculum Development at Master Level; Course Directorships
Master of Science in Psychological Science:
* In 2009, I took the lead in developing a new MSc programme, the MSc in Psychological Science. This 12-month programme covers research methods and offers a menu of diverse areas in psychology (e.g., cognition, sports psychology, organizational psychology, social psychology). This exciting programme runs at UL since 2010. I have been the course director for this course from 2010 to 2013. For more information please contact the current course director, Dr. Stephen Gallagher, and/or check out this link: https://tinyurl.com/MScPsychSciUL
Master of Art in Psychology (Conversion):
* In 2010, I developed a new MA programme, the MA in Psychology. This 12-month programme covers undergraduate and postgraduate modules. It is designed for students with prior education in undergraduate psychology (including research methods) equivalent to 60 ECTS (e.g., a Joint Honours degree). The course thus serves the function of a "conversion" course for students with this amount of prior experiences in psychology. The course has been accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). I am the course director for this course since 2011. For more information please check out this link: https://tinyurl.com/MAPsychUL
Voluntary Internship Programme (VIP)
Based on my research experiences with highly motivated (and smart) undergraduate students at NYU, I developed a voluntary internship programme in research and teaching at Tilburg University. This extra-curricular programme was met with great enthusiasm by students, staff, and a teaching evaluation committee. Shortly after taking on the position at the University of Limerick in 2008, I developed a similar (but more fleshed out) programme at our department, the Voluntary Internship Programme in Research (VIP-R). This programme gives highly motivated students the chance to work with faculty members and their lab groups on research topics that they are interested in. In my case, the research topics lie in the areas of social cognition and decision making.
Head of Department (2010-2013; 2020-ongoing)
In 2010, I took up the post of HoD of a fairly new department. This role has taught me very much about curriculum maintenance & development, institutions, and people. I am back in this role now.
Transnational Coordinator Psychology Education (2014-2016)
In 2014, I took on the role of transnational coordinator for our Bachelor of Science in Psychology course. I am involved in the delivery of this programme at IST College in Athens.
In 2017, after returning from a 1-year sabbatical, I took on the brand new role as the departmental academic coordinator.
Academic Coordinator for International Exchange
In 2018, I also took on this role, given that someone had to cover it for a period of about 1 year. In this role, I was mostly concerned about Erasmus visits of students at UL and abroad.
ORCID: 0000-0001-7744-9648; https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7744-9648
Research InterestsI am a social psychologist. In general terms, I am interested in social cognition and in self-regulation.
Specific areas of interest are:
* existential concerns & perceptions of meaning in life and happiness
* affect and self-regulation, in particular boredom and disillusionment
* affective forecasting* heroism & perceptions of heroes* impact of lay beliefs on judgments and decisions
- , American Psychological Society (APS)
- , Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGfP)
- , European Association of Social Psychology (EASP)
- , International Social Cognition Network
- , Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)