Theory Methods Lab
Denny Borsboom is full professor of psychological methods at the University of Amsterdam. He combines conceptual analysis, often based on insights taken from the philosophy of science, with the development of statistical techniques and practical methodologies that are designed to improve and expand the methodological framework in psychology. In the past decade, Borsboom has focused on the development of techniques to represent psychometric constructs as networks of interacting variables, organized in the psychosystems project. His current focus on theory construction methodology extends this focus on networks and systems of psychological variables into the domain of psychological theory.
Jonas Haslbeck is a postdoc at the Theory Methods Lab. His two main lines of research are the development of statistical methodology and advancing formal theory construction in psychology. Jonas developed methodology to estimate network models such as Mixed Graphical Models (MGMs) for data with different types of variables, Moderated Network Models (MNMs) for networks that differ as a function of additional variables, and time-varying network models that can change across time. He developed several software packages, most importantly the R-package mgm for the estimation and analysis of various network models. In his theoretical work, he participated in the development of a formal theory of panic disorder, created the Abductive Formal Theory Construction (AFTC) framework for the construction of formal theories in (clinical) psychology, and discussed issues in recovering systems from intensive longitudinal data. Currently, Jonas is working on advancing statistical methodology by extending network models to appropriately model heterogeneity; to advance theory development, he applies theory construction in various substantive projects and develops conceptual tools and methodology to make theory construction more approachable for applied researchers.
Riet van Bork
Riet van Bork is a postdoc at the Theory Methods Lab. Her main area of research concerns how theory underlying psychological measurement relates to the statistical models that are used as measurement models in psychology. In particular, her research focuses on conceptual issues in psychometrics, including work on the interpretation of measurement error, the chance experiments that make response variables random variables, the implications of a statistical versus causal interpretation of psychometric models, and she has developed tests to empirically distinguish between models from different psychometric frameworks (network and latent variable models).
Noah van Dongen
Noah van Dongen is a postdoc at the Theory Methods Lab.. He has a PhD in philosophy of Science and a PhD in cognitive science of aesthetics. His main area of research concerns are the objectivity and informativity of tests and scientific explanation. In particular, his work is focussed on many-analyst methodology, quality control of research practice, and operationalizing test severity/informativity of scientific theories. For the Theory Methods Lab, he is working on a many-modelers framework for differential theory formalization, a rapid theory formalization work format, a database of psychological psychological phenomena, and practical approach to scientific explanation.
Tessa Blanken is a postdoc at the Theory Methods Lab. Her research focuses on the complex interplay between insomnia and depression – at the biological, psychological, and social level. The aim to integrate these different levels comes from combining her educational background in psychological methods (learning about psychopathology networks) with her PhD at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (focusing on insomnia and depression) and work she did during the COVID-19 pandemic (investigating social contact networks along which behaviour can spread). The common denominator is the use of network analyses and complexity science, which she uses to link these levels and shed light on the dynamic interplay between insomnia and depression.
Jill de Ron
Jill de Ron is a Ph.D. student at the Theory Methods Lab. Her research is concerned with modeling the dynamics through which adaptive fear and avoidance behavior can spiral into a maladaptive state seen in anxiety disorders. To facilitate modeling, she uses general explanatory principles (i.e., system archetypes) already well studied in other fields and tries to link these together. One of the projects she is currently working on is embedding a dynamic system of fear-avoidance in reinforcement learning models, which would possibly allow us to model the movement of people with a phobia in a (virtual reality) room. In that way, we could extend the currently available theoretical models to models fitted on empirical data.
Adam Finnemann is a PhD candidate at the Theory Methods Lab. He is broadly interested in what psychological theory construction can learn from complex systems theory. Specifically, the idea that there are certain system archetypes: common structures that produce characteristic behavior. His first article describes how systems of pairwise aligning agents produce phase-transitions and hysteresis as their characteristic behaviors. Magnets and opinions are two domains where this system can be recognized. Currently, he is working on analyzing and modelling urban mental health.
Leonhard Volz is a Research Master student at the University of Amsterdam with a focus on psychological methods, statistics, and computational methods. He works as research assistant at the Theory Methods Lab. He works on different approaches to psychological modelling, such as network analysis, investigating mathematical models, and broader formal modelling approaches. Besides that, he is passionate about open and sound research methods in (psychological) science and has been active in various topical (student) initiatives, such as JEPS, SIOS, and SOSIP, and the Psychological Science Accelerator.
Han van der Maas
Han van der Maas is a distinguished research professor of Complex Systems in the Social and Behavioural Sciences at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Han van der Maas (1966) studied Psychology at the University of Amsterdam and received his master (Psychological Methods) in 1989 and his Ph.D (Developmental Psychology) in 1993 for research on methods for the analysis of phase transitions in cognitive development (advisor: Peter Molenaar). After a five year KNAW fellowship, he joined the faculty of the developmental group of the University of Amsterdam, first as associate professor and in 2003 as full professor. In 2005 he became professor and chair of Psychological Methods group at the University of Amsterdam.In 2009 he founded Oefenweb.nl, a spin-off company of the UvA-holding, selling an unique game-based web-based adaptive child monitoring system. Oefenweb is now part of Prowise.com. His general research theme is the formalization and testing of psychological theories in areas such as cognition, expertise, development, attitudes and intelligence.