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

Niels Bohrweg 1
2333 CA Leiden
Room number 128


  • European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) Penningmeester en lid dagelijks bestuur
  • Väestöliitto, Helsinki & SENRG, University of Oxford Onderzoeker/mede-initiatiefnemer

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