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Dr Sander van der Linden

Dr Sander van der Linden

University Lecturer

Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge

Sander van der Linden is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 (3)30398 (Department) / +44 (0)1223 (3)31648 (Churchill College)


Dr. Sander van der Linden is a University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Social Psychology, Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab and a Fellow of Churchill College. His research interests include social perception, normative influence, the “wisdom of crowds”, and the psychology of group consensus, risk, and polarization. He is especially interested in the evolution, spread, and influence of social norms in shaping prosocial behaviour and human cooperation. His research also explores (motivated) social cognition, the role of values, ideology, and culture in social judgement and decision-making, societal (risk) communication, and environmental psychology, especially as it relates to human well-being and real-world social dilemmas such as public health, climate change, and sustainability.

Sander has won numerous awards for his research from organisations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). His research is featured regularly in the popular media, including outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, the Washington Post, Time Magazine and the Guardian and has informed behavioural policy in both the United States and Europe.

He was nominated by Pacific Standard Magazine as one of the '30 Top Thinkers under 30', an annual list which recognizes intellectuals in the social and behavioral sciences (although he just turned 30). He was one of three scholars to receive the FrankResearch Prize in 2017 (named after social change pioneer Frank Karel) for outstanding social research in the public interest.

Sander is dedicated to conducting psychological science in the public interest and frequently writes for Scientific American Mind and Psychology Today. He also has a media partnership with Time Magazine to gather “big data” on social-psychological topics.

Prior to Cambridge, Dr. van der Linden directed the Social and Environmental Decision-Making (SED) Lab in the Department of Psychology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton University and was a visiting scholar (2012-2014) at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Subject groups/Research projects

Social Psychology:


  • Social Norms, Influence and Cognition
  • Risk, Judgement and Decision-Making
  • Prosociality, Cooperation and Altruism
  • Environmental Psychology and Well-Being

Key Publications

Selected publications from 2011 onwards:

van der Linden, S. (2017). The nature of viral altruism and how to make it stick. Nature Human Behaviour 1, 0041.

van der Linden, S., Leiserowitz, A., Rosenthal, S., & Maibach, E. (2017). Inoculating the Public Against Misinformation about Climate Change. Global Challenges. doi: 10.1002/gch2.201600008.

Panagopolous, C., & van der Linden, S. (2016). Conformity to implicit social pressure: The role of political identity. Social Influence 11(3), 177-184.

van der Linden, S. (in press). The role of climate in human aggression and violence: Towards a broader conception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

van der Linden, S., Maibach, E., & Leiserowitz, A. (2015). Improving public engagement with climate change: Five “best practice” insights from psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(6), 758-763.

van der Linden, S. (2015). Intrinsic motivation and pro-environmental behaviour. Nature Climate Change, 5(7), 612-613.

van der Linden, S., & Rosenthal, S. A. (2015). Measuring narcissism with a single question? A replication and extension of the Single-Item Narcissism Scale (SINS). Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 238-241.

van der Linden, S. (2015). A conceptual critique of the cultural cognition thesis. Science Communication, 38(1), 128-138.

van der Linden, S., & Chryst, B. (2015). Why the "new statistics" isn't new. The Psychologist, 28(8), 610.

van der Linden, S. (2015). The conspiracy-effect: Exposure to conspiracy theories (about global warming) decreases pro-social behavior and science acceptance. Personality and Individual Differences, 87, 171-173.

van der Linden, S., Clarke, C., & Maibach, E. (2015). Highlighting consensus among medical scientists increases public support for vaccines: Evidence from a randomized experiment. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1207.

van der Linden, S. (2015). The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 41, 112-124.

van der Linden, S. L., Leiserowitz, A. A., Feinberg, G. D., & Maibach, E. W. (2015). The scientific consensus on climate change as a gateway belief: Experimental evidence. PloS ONE, 10(2), e0118489.

van der Linden, S. (2015). Green prison programmes, recidivism, and mental health: A primer. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 25(5), 338-342.

van der Linden, S. (2014). On the relationship between personal experience, affect and risk perception: The case of climate change. European Journal of Social Psychology, 44(5), 430-440.

van der Linden, S. (2013). A response to Paul Dolan. In A. Oliver (Ed.), Behavioural Public Policy (pp. 209-215). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.

van der Linden, S. (2013). Exploring beliefs about bottled water and intentions to reduce consumption: The dual-effect of social norm activation and persuasive information. Environment and Behavior, 47(5), 526-550.

van der Linden, S. (2011). Charitable intent: A moral or social construct? A revised theory of planned behavior model. Current Psychology, 30(4), 355-374.