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Current lab members:


James Ackland (PhD student)

James studied Politics at POLIS in Cambridge. His undergraduate research project looked into the Moral Foundations of Brexit, and he has previously worked on the climate and immigration messaging projects in the lab. His MPhil research has explored the persistence and extent of 'neighbourhood effects' in UK elections over the last 30 years. His PhD is focused on the intersection of political psychology, election polling and geographical psychology. James is co-supervised by Jason Rentfrow. 

Email: Twitter: @James__ackland






Tessa Buchanan (PhD Student)

After studying PPE at Oxford, Tessa worked as a journalist (BBC, AFP, Daily Telegraph), before switching to government communications where she held roles including ministerial speechwriter, head of the UK Trade & Investment Press Office and Head of Communications on Europe for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (2012-2015). She worked on the Scottish referendum, the Olympics, Exporting is GREAT and the EU reform campaign. She left the civil service in 2016 to study for a Masters in Behavioural Science at LSE where she looked at behavioural factors behind the EU referendum result, and is now doing a PhD exploring the psychology of effective communications around immigration. Tessa is supervised by Lee and Alan Renwick (Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, UCL).

Email: Twitter: @T_M_Buchanan






Lee de-Wit (PI)


Lee originally trained as an experimental psychologist / cognitive neuroscientist but now applies psychology to understand political decision making. In addition to directing the Political Psychology Lab, Lee is also the Director of the Psychology and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) BSc program, and is the Director of Studies for PBS at Trinity Hall.


Department Profile Page

E-mail: Twitter @leedewit 





Sakshi Ghai (PhD student)

Sakshi Ghai is a PhD student in Psychology at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on empowerment, technology, and behavior change in the context of the Global South. Sakshi is passionate about diversifying behavioral science. Recently, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Social Norms and Behavioral Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania and a short-term consultant with the World Bank's Behavioral Science (eMBeD) unit. Sakshi is co-supervised by Amy Orben. Previously, she has worked at Ogilvy and Wharton People Analytics at the Wharton School. Sakshi was a 2015 Young India Fellow at Ashoka University and received her Master’s in Behavioral and Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi.                                   

Twitter: @SakSGhai





Lara Greening (MPhil)

Lara Greening graduated with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Behavioural Science from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation focused on the predictors of within-party political polarization in South Africa. Her research experience involves addictive buying and rational explanations of political polarization using Bayesian modelling. She also has worked on coordinating the Research Handbook of Nudges and Society edited by Cass Sunstein and Lucia Reisch. Lara is co-supervised by Lucia Reisch, director of the El Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy. Her MPhil is funded by the ESRC.







Thomas Legein (Post-doc)

Thomas Legein has a PhD in political science from CEVIPOL (Université libre de Bruxelles), and has worked on support for reforms to representative democracy, and the impact of framing in support for Basic Income. Thomas spent a year in the lab with a fellowship from the Wiener-Anspach foundation to study the perceptions of political parties and how that relates to beliefs about party reforms. He is now visiting post doc, working on the relationship between within and between party polarization and attitudes towards party reform. 







Emmanuel Mahieux (PhD student)

After obtaining an MPhil in Politics (Oxford, 2015), Emmanuel worked as an operative for a political campaign. He then worked in a leading communications agency for two years before starting a PhD program in political psychology at UCL. Emmanuel’s research focuses on the psychological and cognitive profile of ‘swing’ voters. Emmanuel is supervised by Lee and Joe Devlin (UCL).

Email: Twitter: @emmanuelmahieux






Kolja Rath (MPhil)

Kolja Rath studied for a BSc in Psychology with Biology at the University of St Andrews. In his undergraduate research project, supervised by Dr Nicole Tausch, he investigated the dynamics of public opinion concerning different protest tactics and their interactions with police actions. His MPhil project will focus on the influence of court decisions surrounding polarised political issues on public opinion on these issues and trust in the legal system more broadly, with a specific emphasis on climate litigation cases. His studies at Cambridge are funded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation.







JonRobert Tartaglione (PhD student)

JonRobert holds a Master's in Social Cognition from UCL as well as a Master's in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. His current research in the Political Psychology Lab at the University of Cambridge explores the intersection of political differences (i.e. between liberals and conservatives) and social norms. More specifically, it aims to tease apart the impact social norms have on the attitudes and behaviors of political partisans, whether liberals and conservatives display asymmetric susceptibility to social norms, and under which conditions will such norms catalyze political and non-political action. JonRobert is also the Founder and CEO of Influence 51.


Email: Twitter: @PolPsyTat





David Young (post doc and lab manager)

David studied Psychology at UCL where he was awarded the Plotkin Prize for the best undergraduate Psychology dissertation. His undergraduate project was in the domain of judgment biases, and tested competing theoretical predictions about the causes and boundary conditions of the well-known 'anchoring' effect. His MPhil research explored individual differences, and country level differences in the extent of ‘policy aligned’ voting decisions. His PhD explores computational modeling of the priors and beleifs that shape political polarization.   



Email: Twitter: @David_JYoung





Lisa-Maria Tanase (PhD student)

Lisa-Maria is co-supervised by Lee de-Wit and Professor Lucia Reisch, director of the El Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy. Her PhD is funded by the El Erian Institute. Her PhD research aims to understand how political psychology and behavioural economics can inform the development of interventions and policy measures to mitigate climate change through both individual and institutional action. She is interested in exploring matters of social justice, ethics and political polarisation surrounding climate change. Before joining the Political Psychology Lab for her PhD, she worked for two years at the University of Cambridge Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, where her research focused on the communication of evidence and uncertainty in a variety of domains from policy interventions to healthcare and the legal sector. She completed an MSc in Cognitive and Decision Science and BSc in Arts and Sciences at UCL. She explored decision-making processes at complementary cognitive, behavioural and political scales with an interdisciplinary combination of data analysis, experimental methods and computer programming. 

Her paper as first author is available in the Royal Society Open Science Journal:





Recent lab MPhil alumni:

Sam Lloyd is now doing a PhD in environmental psychology at Victoria University. 

Liza Karmannaya is now doing a PhD in computational social science at UCL. 





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