Keynote speakers

We are delighted to announce the invited keynote speakers.


Prof. dr. Maarten Vansteenkiste
Professor of Developmental and Motivational Psychology, Ghent University

Nourishing children’s engagement and growth? The critical role of basic psychological needs and need-supportive socialization

At the heart of Self-Determination Theory is the claim that all people have basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, the satisfaction of which is beneficial for children’s psychological growth and the frustration of which increases risk for ill-being and maladjustment. In the present presentation, the key criteria to characterize basic needs are addressed, together with supportive diary, longitudinal, and experimental research in diverse age groups, some of which was collected as part of a large-scale population study across the pandemic ( Although basic needs are presumed to play a universal critical role across different developmental phases and challenges, there is room for contextual variation in the support of basic needs by key socialization figures (i.e., parents, teachers). Indeed, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to support individuals’ psychological needs. Recent work grounded in a circumplex-based approach on need-supportive and need-thwarting contextual conditions, thereby providing a deeper insight in the dynamic interplay between autonomy support (relative to control) and structure (relative to chaos), shows that different (but not all) roads can lead to Rome. Accordingly, the provision of adequate need support becomes a matter of calibration and of tailoring support to individual differences and situational demands. Finally, apart from contextual support of basic needs, individuals can also get their basic needs met through need crafting. This promising line of correlational and intervention research on need crafting testifies to the pro-active and growth-oriented nature of the human organism.


Prof. dr. Marloes Kleinjan
Professor of Youth Mental Health Promotion, Utrecht University
Head of the department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Trimbos Institute

What is needed to promote child and adolescent mental health?

The significance of child and adolescent mental health on conditions across the life course has become clear in the past few decades. Also, because of covid-19 the attention for mental health has increased and more resources are becoming available to invest in mental health promotion. For example, in the Netherlands, ‘well-being and social-emotional development’ have become a subject within the National Education Investment Programme and a National Prevention Deal on Mental Health is currently in the making. This is good news, because investing in mental health and the prevention of psychological problems can contribute to experiencing a good quality of life and strengthen the feeling of belonging, as well as the feeling of being able to participate in society. Moreover, it could lead to lower healthcare costs and lower risks of developing psychological disorders later in life. However, the question is whether we currently have the right building blocks and infrastructure in the Netherlands and internationally to be able to effectively focus on strengthening mental health and the prevention of psychological problems in youth. I believe there is still much to be gained here: the range of preventive interventions is fragmented; we still know too little about their effectiveness; interventions are often not well embedded; and there is no good infrastructure for sustainable implementation. In my talk I will discuss what I believe is necessary to improve prevention in the field of mental health.


Prof. dr. Mariska Kret
Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Leiden University

Emotion processing in Homo and Pan

Evolution prepared group-living species, (non)human primates included, to quickly recognize and adequately respond to conspecifics’ emotional expressions. Different theories propose that mimicry of emotional expressions facilitates these swift adaptive reactions. When species unconsciously mimic their companions’ expressions of emotion, they feel reflections of their emotions which informs social decisions. The majority of emotion research has focused on full-blown facial expressions of emotion in humans. However, facial muscles can sometimes be controlled; humans know when to smile, and when not to. In this talk, I therefore argue for a broader exploration of emotion signals from sources beyond the face or face muscles that are more difficult to control. More specifically, I will show that implicit sources including the whole body and subtle autonomic responses including pupil-dilation are picked up by observers and influence subsequent behavior. In my research, I take a comparative approach and investigate similarities and differences in the perception of emotions between humans and great apes. I will here discuss new, recently collected data and suggest avenues for future research that will hopefully eventually lead to a better comprehension of emotional expressions and how we come to understand each other’s emotions.

Organising committee
Jan Boom
Judith Dubas
Stathis Grapsas
Liesbeth Hallers-Haalboom
Marissa Hofstee
Odilia Laceulle
Lisanne de Moor
Sheida Novin