Universiteit Leiden

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Esther van den Bos

Assistant Professor

Name
Dr. E.J. van den Bos
Telephone
+31 71 527 6868
E-mail
bosejvanden@fsw.leidenuniv.nl
ORCID iD
0000-0003-1177-4856

Esther van den Bos is an assistant professor in the unit Developmental and Educational Psychology of the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University. She is interested in social anxiety as well as lighter forms of anxiety experienced by many adolescents, such as public speaking anxiety and test anxiety.

More information about Esther van den Bos

Esther van den Bos is an assistant professor in the unit Developmental and Educational Psychology of the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University. She is interested in social anxiety as well as lighter forms of anxiety experienced by many adolescents, such as public speaking anxiety and test anxiety.

Research

Esther’s current research is mainly focused on social anxiety: the fear of being scrutinized or evaluated by others in social situations. She aims to discover whether adolescents with high levels of social anxiety show developmental patterns of social behaviour (e.g., eye-contact) and physical stress responses that are different from their low anxious age-peers. Knowledge of such differences may contribute to early detection of social anxiety disorder. In addition, Esther is interested in interventions to improve the social functioning of socially anxious youth.

In her research, Esther uses eye-tracking in naturalistic and virtual environments as well as physiological and neuroendocrine measures.

Observable characteristics of social anxiety
Avoidance of eye-contact has often been proposed as a distinguishing feature of socially anxious individuals. However, empirical findings are mixed. Together with Jiemiao Chen and prof. dr. Michiel Westenberg, Esther van den Bos investigates situational characteristics influencing whether or not high socially anxious individuals avoid eye-contact. Their most recent project, funded by NWO, investigates children’s and adolescents’ gaze behavior during conversations to clarify in which developmental period(s) socially anxious individuals show avoidant gaze patterns.

As a postdoctoral researcher, Esther was involved in the Social Anxiety and Normal Development – studyinvestigating the normal development of physiological and neuroendocrine responses to public speaking and their relation with social anxiety. Her research showed that the development of these responses is related to physical and socio-cognitive development in adolescence. Social anxiety also plays a role. For example, youth with high levels of social anxiety showed elevated cortisol responses to public speaking at early stages of puberty, but reduced responses at the end of puberty.

Interventions
Esther van den Bos is co-supervisor of Sara Jakobsson Mansson (together with dr. Anne Miers and prof. dr. Michiel Westenberg). Sara’s PhD project aims to investigate the effectiveness of a blended care program offering group treatment to adolescents with social anxiety complaints and additional support through an app. Esther is particularly interested in possible effects of treatment on the participants’ behavior, for example their gaze behavior.

Esther is also co-supervisor of Evania Fasya (together with prof. dr. Mariska Kret and prof. dr. Dirk Heylen). An important goal of Evania’s PhD project is to develop a virtual reality exposure training for young adults with public speaking anxiety, which is responsive to the participant’s level of physiological arousal.

In addition, a donation by LUF - S.K.A.I. allows Esther to explore the feasibility of a virtual reality training program, in which socially anxious adolescents and young adults practice making eye-contact in conversations with virtual humans.

Teaching

  • General coordinator of the Master's specialisation School Psychology
  • Course coordinator School-based Prevention and Intervention
  • Mentor
  • Supervisor of Master thesis projects
  • Supervisor of Bachelor thesis projects
  • Supervisor of internal practical internships
  • Supervisor of research internships

Short CV

Esther obtained her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Leiden University in 2007. She wrote her thesis on implicit learning of artificial grammars, under supervision of dr. Fenna Poletiek and prof. dr. Bernhard Hommel. She received a Niels Stensen Fellowship to study statistical learning of language-like structures in the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Cornell University in 2007-2008. Subsequently, she worked as a lecturer at the Free University of Amsterdam. 

In 2011, Esther returned to Leiden as a postdoctoral researcher in the Developmental and Educational Psychology unit, where her interest in the interplay between cognitive, behavioral and physiological aspects of anxiety was roused. She was appointed as assistant professor in 2016

Grants

  • 2022 NWO Open Competition SSH, “How does social anxiety influence eye-contact in childhood and adolescence?” (245K, co-investigator)
  • 2019 Leiden University Fund: "Kijk eens aan!" (€12.5K)
  • 2018 Profile area Brain Function and Dysfunction over the Lifespan (LU): starting grant virtual reality project, in collaboration with Mariska Kret (€43.6K)
  • 2008 Cornell Cognitive Science Program, travel grant ($794)
  • 2007 Niels Stensen Fellowship (€30K)

Supervision of PhD candidates

Assistant Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Ontwikkelings- & Onderwijspsychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 3B49

Contact

Publications

Activities

  • Geen relevante nevenwerkzaamheden
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