Esther K. Papies, PhD, lab director

Esther K. Papies

Esther studied Social Sciences at University College Utrecht, The Netherlands, where she received a Bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in 2002.  She completed her MSc in Social Psychology in 2003, and received her PhD in 2008 at Utrecht University, working with Prof. Wolfgang Stroebe and Prof. Henk Aarts.  She received the Best Dissertation Award of the Dutch Association of Social Psychological Researchers, the Early Career Award (Jaspars Award) of the European Association for Social Psychology, and a VENI-grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.  Her research has been published in, for example, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Appetite, and the International Journal of Obesity.

Esther worked as an Assistant and then as an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Utrecht University, before joining the University of Glasgow as a Senior Lecturer in September 2015.

Contact Esther at Esther.Papies -at –

Google Scholar Profile


Maisy Best, MSc, Postdoctoral Research Assistant

maisy-bestMaisy is interested in the role of ‘executive control’ in behaviour change. Executive control refers to a set of cognitive functions that allows us to inhibit irrelevant actions, suppress unwanted information, and switch between task goals. Executive control is very important for everyday life; without the ability to control our behaviour, we would very rapidly find ourselves responding to any desirable stimulus that presented itself in our environment. To date, Maisy’s research has investigated how executive control interacts with lower level processes, such as associative learning. Maisy is interested in applying this approach to the domain of health behaviour to provide insight into the mechanisms through which people can resist tempting but unhealthy stimuli and to develop situated interventions that target automatic or nonconscious routes to behaviour.

Maisy completed a BSc degree in Psychology in 2012 and a MSc in Psychological Research Methods in 2013 both from the University of Exeter. Maisy recently submitted her PhD thesis supervised by Prof. Frederick Verbruggen also at Exeter. Maisy’s PhD thesis examined the interplay between top-down and bottom-up influences on response inhibition. Maisy joined the Healthy Cognition Lab as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in September 2016.



Mike Keesman, MSc, PhD student

mike pasfotoMike is interested in self-regulation processes and in the study of mindfulness.  For his PhD project, he uses experimental methods to examine the mechanisms through which mindfulness can reduce desire, for example for unhealthy foods.  Adopting a grounded cognition perspective, his work has shown that consumptive objects, such as foods or alcohol, spontaneously elicit imagery of consuming them, which are key in the emergence of desire.  Building on this, Mike examines whether and how mindfulness may modulate the experience of this spontaneous imagery, such that the emergence of desire can be prevented.  The objective of this project is to gain a better understanding of the working mechanisms of mindfulness, and ultimately to facilitate the regulation of health behaviour.

Mike is based at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and is co-advised by prof. Henk Aarts and prof. Michael Häfner. He graduated from Utrecht University with an MSc in Social and Health Psychology (cum laude) in May 2013, and started to work on his PhD project in September 2013.

Contact Mike here.


Katharina Lindner, MSc, PhD student


Katharina studies in how healthy food products can be made attractive by means of packaging cues. Typically, unhealthy food with high contents of fat, sugar, and salt are better liked and therefore more difficult to resist than healthier foods.  Based on a grounded cognition perspective, we argue that consumers typically simulate a situated eating experience when perceiving a food item and deciding whether to buy or consume it.  In Katharina’s project, we are examining these situated representations and their relation with motivation in more detail.  Then, we will use these findings to develop packaging cues that trigger rewarding simulations to increase the motivation toward healthy products.  Additionally, the objective of this project is to assess robustness and durability of the effects of these cues embedded in food packaging.

Katharina is based at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and is co-advised by prof. Monique Smeets, dr. Liesbeth Zandstra, and prof. Garmt Dijksterhuis.  She graduated from Maastricht University with a MSc in Psychology (cum laude) in August 2012, and started work on her PhD project in April 2014.  This research is funded by the NWO Food, Cognition, and Behavior grant NUDGIS.

Contact Katharina here.



Lab alumni

Caroline Jordan, lab intern

Ani Lazarova, summer intern

Kasia Mojescik, summer intern

Iris Versluis, MSc, PhD student