Universiteit Leiden

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Max van Duijn

Assistant professor

Dr. M.J. van Duijn
+31 71 527 7903


More information about Max van Duijn

Fields of interest

I study a much-debated topic from the cognitive sciences: ‘mindreading’ (also known as ‘theory of mind’ or ‘mentalising’) in relation to language and narrative.


My current research focuses on complex mentalising tasks (e.g. those involving multiple viewpoint layers: Sheila thinks that Mary believes that Peter intends…etc.) in relation to language and literature. The key findings of my PhD thesis (completed 2015) suggest that handling of such mentalising tasks in actual discourse and interaction differs quite substantially from how this has been implemented in experimental and theoretical paradigms throughout a range of fields, including experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and literary studies. My mission for the coming years will be to refine and operationalise this suggestion, and to put it to the test. To that effect, I will pursue the interdisciplinary approach of my PhD by combining theoretical and empirical methods rooted in the humanities (narratology, theoretical linguistics, corpus linguistics) with experimental work in collaboration with psychologists and neuroscientists. 

From January-July 2014 I was based in Oxford as a visiting researcher attached to the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group (SENRG), Department of Experimental Psychology. This research group, headed by Prof Robin Dunbar, provided the perfect environment for the collaborative part of my PhD research project. Also, in Oxford I was co-convenor of the TORCH Drama & Cognition sessions, a series of six discussion meetings bringing together students and advanced researchers from a variety of disciplines across the humanities and sciences. 

In 2013 I have co-initiated the Fraternity Friendship Study (FFS), a currently running longitudinal investigation of friendship and social networks among European students, in collaboration with Prof Anna Rotkirch (Väestöliitto, Helsinki), Dr Tamas David-Barrett (University of Oxford), and Prof Robin Dunbar (University of Oxford). One of the areas of interest is mentalising in relation to social network formation. 

In June 2014 I was selected as a popular science blogger featured on the "Faces of Science"-webpage of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW): www.kennislink.nl/facesofscience/wetenschappers/max-van-duijn--3

My personal website is www.mjvd.nl.

Curriculum vitae

2015 Assistant Professor (UD) at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), Media Technology MSc programme & postdoctoral researcher at the Leiden University Centre for Arts in Society (LUCAS)
2011‑2015 Leiden University: PhD fellow (supervisors: Prof Ineke Sluiter and Prof Arie Verhagen), includes teaching of several courses in the BA programme Dutch Language & Culture
2014 University of Oxford: Visiting PhD Researcher at the Social & Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group (SENRG), Department of Experimental Psychology, and Magdalen College (supervisor: Prof Robin Dunbar)
2010‑2011 Research Assistant at the Leiden University Centre for Language and Identity (CTI)
2004‑2011 Project manager (part time) at DMC Marketing & Strategische Communicatie 
Tasks included copy writing/editing, communication consultancy, web development
2008‑2010 Leiden University: MPhil in Literature/Linguistics, cum laude 
Extra: MA-courses in philosophy; tutorial ‘Literature & Evolutionary Theory’; Honours Trajectory Leadership .24

Leiden University: BA Dutch Language & Literature, cum laude 
Minor in Business Administration, specialisation in Marketing Management 
Extra: BA-courses in philosophy, Honours Class ‘Communication’

  *intensive medical treatment in 2006-2007 due to osteosarcoma in left knee

Assistant professor

  • Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen
  • Leiden Inst Advanced Computer Sciences

Work address

Snellius Building
Niels Bohrweg 1
2333 CA Leiden
Room number 128


  • Duijn M.J. van & Arie Verhagen (2016), Language, intersubjectivity, and recursive mindreading.conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J van (2016), Processing embedded intentional states in literary fiction.conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (5 April 2016), The lazy mindreader: why we rarely have to process embedded intentional states. [conference poster].other
  • Pearce E., Launay J., Duijn M.J. van, Rotkirch A., David-Barrett T. & Dunbar R.I.M. (2016), Singing together or apart: The effect of competitive and cooperative singing on social bonding within and between sub-groups of a university Fraternity, Psychology of Music : 1-19.article in journal: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2016), The Lazy Mindreader. A Humanities Perspective on Mindreading and Multiple-Order Intentionality. PhD Thesis, Leiden University. (PhD thesis, Leiden University).PhD thesis
  • Duijn M.J. van (2016), Van binnenuit bekeken Gedachtenlezen en ingebedde perspectieven in Mrs Dalloway en De maagd Marino, Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 132(4): 383-400.article in journal: refereed
  • Launay J., Pearce E., Wlodarski R., Duijn M. van, Carney J. & Dunbar R.I.M. (2015), Higher-order mentalising and executive functioning, Personality and Individual Differences (86): 6-14.article in journal: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2015), Lezen en gedachtenlezen. Verbetert literatuur ons inlevingsvermogen?, Vooys: tijdschrift voor letteren 33(3).article in journal
  • Duijn M.J. van, Sluiter I. & Arie Verhagen (2015), When Narrative Takes Over. Mindreading and Multiple-Order Intentionality in Shakespeare's Othello, Language and Literature 24(2): 148–166.article in journal: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2014), Het laatste stukje vlees doorknippen. Schaamstreekgeweld in Yves Petry's De maagd Marino. In: Honings R.A.M., Jensen L., Marion O. van (Eds.) Schokkende boeken. Amsterdam: Verloren. 97-104.book chapter
  • Duijn M.J. van (2014), Linguistic tools for mindreading? Representation of multiple-order intentionality in language.conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van, Rotkirch A., David-Barrett T., Jokela M. & Dunbar R.I.M. (2014), Multiple-Order Intentionality Revisited.conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2013), Communication and Processing of Mixed-Viewpoint Situations: Ready-Mades versus Online Constructions.conference paper: refereed
  • Sluiter I., Corthals B., Duijn M.J. van & Verheij M.J.O. (2013), In het hoofd van Medea. Gedachtenlezen bij een moordende moeder, Lampas: Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse classici 46(1): 3-20.article in journal: refereed
  • Beekhuizen B.F. & Duijn M.J. van (2013), Packaged and Ready-to-Go: Linguistic Tools for Communication and Mental Processing.conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2012), Bloed aan de handen van Alfred Issendorf, Arabian Humanities 175(4): 22-25.article in journal: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2012), Ik hoor het galmen in de 21e eeuw! De Procedure: strijd met God. In: Fagel S., Francken E., Honings R.A.M. (Eds.) Strijd! Polemiek en conflict in de Nederlandse letteren. Leiden: Leiden University Press.book chapter
  • Duijn M.J. van (2012), Reading Minds. Narrative and Multiple-Order Intentionality. (Poster).conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2012), Reading Minds. (Re)Presentation of Multiple-Order Intentionality in Narrative.conference paper: refereed
  • Duijn M.J. van (2011), Moord in Nooit meer Slapen?, Nieuw Letterkundig Magazijn : mededelingenblad uitgegeven door de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde 29(2): 62-68.article in journal
  • European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) Penningmeester en lid dagelijks bestuur
  • Väestöliitto, Helsinki & SENRG, University of Oxford Onderzoeker/mede-initiatiefnemer