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Boya Li, PhD

Boya obtained her PhD at the department of Linguistics at Leiden University. Afterwards she decided to study psychology and also successfully finished her Research Masters in psychology. Boya is currently involved in several ongoing research projects on emotion regulation and emotion understanding in young children with and without an Autism Spectrum Disorder that involve experimental settings, and she is our expert with the eye tracker. Boya also supervises students with their research projects and theses.

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3046-5656

Unlocking Diversity Awareness at FestiWell – through an Escape Room Game!

INEQUALITY EScape final

A group of postdoc and PhDs at our Focus on Emotions lab organized an escape room for staff and students to increase their awareness of diversity and accessibility matters. It was designed particularly for this year’s EUniWell FestiWell, which ran under the headline “Towards global sustainable well-being”. Leiden University, as a partner of the EUniWell (European University for Well-Being) hosted part of this cross-university festival on 13 May. Read the full article here!

Tirza successfully defended her PhD dissertation on DHH children and adults

tirza1On May 12th, Tirza van der Straaten successfully defended her PhD dissertation at Leiden University: "Opportunities within and after Rehabilitation for Patients with Hearing Loss".

Her PhD included a groundbreaking, nation-wide study on how on deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children do in primary and secondary education. An important step towards more awareness and knowledge on what is needed for better social inclusion and equity in education for all children. You can read Tirza’s dissertation here.

Congrats, Dr. Tirza!

Can tech make cultural heritage more inclusive?

incl cult heritageCultural heritage is an indispensable part of society, and plays a role in shaping our values and the way we interact with the world. Thus, it is important that we anchor diversity and inclusion in this sector - sustainably and effectively.

Finding out how modern technology can play a role in this is the goal of the "Interactive Inclusive Heritage" project, which exists within a larger collaboration between the University of Twente (UT) and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)The research is led by Jacco van Ossenbruggen and Claudia Libbi on behalf of VU and by Carolien Rieffe, Shenghui Wang and Dirk Heylen on behalf of the UT.

 Want to know more? Continue reading here.

Early signs for good mental health during adolescence: Emotional Intelligence matters.

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In a longitudinal study, Eichengreen and colleagues explored how the certain aspects of emotional intelligence impact the development of adolescents’ mental health, thus identifying potential warning signs and targets for intervention programs. Despite a higher risk for mental health issues and lesser access to socio-emotional learning opportunities, aspects of emotional intelligence in adolescents with hearing loss in mainstream education did not develop differently from their hearing peers, implying that their social environment might play a more important role in their mental health.

Continue reading here

Recent & Upcoming Events

May 20th: Inaugural lecture of Prof.dr. Sander Begeer “Achter de Spiegel: Het Spectrum van Autisme”

sanderbegeerprofIn 2005, Sander defended his thesis as Carolien’s first PhD student – and now he is Professor at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam!  

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May 20th: Carolien’s presentation at ASLTIP conference

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Carolien’s talk “Focus on the environment – how to improve social inclusion for children with communication needs” will take place at 13.00-13.45 in Track 1 of the Parallel Sessions. 

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Tirza’s PhD Defence on Opportunities within and after rehabilitation for patients with hearing loss

Tirza vdStraaten 2Tirza van den Straaten has been researching the long term effect of early hearing loss detection and intervention on the social-emotional development of deaf and hard of hearing children under the supervision of Prof.dr.ir. Johan Frijns at Leiden University Medical Center and Prof.dr. Carolien Rieffe from our lab at Leiden University. 

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April is for Autism Acceptance

Autism Acceptance

Every year, April 2nd is World Autism Day. And in that week - and really, the whole month -  it's time to celebrate Autism Acceptance! 

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The Focus on Emotions lab, featuring Fotis!


Fotis joined the Focus on Emotions lab for one year as a Master student, Intern and Research Assistant, while completing his degree in Developmental Psychology at Leiden University.

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Padova joined the chat: Double the lab, double the insights!

padove lab meet

Last Friday, 18 February, the weekly Focus on Emotions lab meeting was a bit bigger than usual, joined by researchers in Developmental Psychology from the University of Padova, in Italy! 

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Who are we?

FOE group 2019 crop

Our team is located at the department of Developmental Psychology of Leiden University and at the Human Media Interaction at the technical University of Twente, both in the Netherlands. We work in close collaboration with the ENT department of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), the mental health organisations INTER-PSY (Groningen) and Curium-LUMC, the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), and TU Delft. Our group is dedicated to examining the development of emotional intelligence of children and adolescents from a very young age; with a strong focus on its impact on children's social development. Besides typically developing children and adolescents, we are interested in the development of those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH), with autism, or with a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). Currently, we have an ongoing project on social inclusion at schools that utilises sensor technology with DHH and autistic children. Since 2017, our team has also been working in close collaboration with a centre for DHH children in China.

On this site we will post regular news items about new publications, events, and other important news. You can also read more about our ongoing projects, read about/download questionnaires we have developed, peruse the list of our publications per topic, or learn about opportunities for students to join our team.