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Personal information

Jan Theeuwes graduated cum laude in Experimental Psychology and Ergonomics from Tilburg University. In 1988, he was employed by the TNO Human Factors Institute in the traffic behaviour group and conducted applied human factors research for various national and international government agencies, automotive companies, and the EU. In 1992, he received a PhD cum laude from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Andries F. Sanders, advisor). In 1999 he became a full professor at this University, where he built a new research group. Currently, his ERC group focuses on statistical learning and attention and emotion. He employs among classic psychophysics, techniques such as EEG, fMRI, patient work and modeling. In 2010 he was elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science (KNAW). He received an European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant of 2.5 million euro on reward processing in 2013 and a second ERC advanced grant in 2019 on attention and statistical learning. He was President of ESCoP (European Society for Cognitive Psychology). His work has had a large impact on the research community see https://scholar.google.nl/citations?user=iRgckZsAAAAJ&hl=nl

Jan Theeuwes mentored more than 25 PhD students, 6 of which received their degree with the highest honor (cum laude). Many PhDs have academic appointments: for example, vd Stigchel (Utrecht), Martens (Eindhoven), Hickey, van Zoest (both at Birmingham), Mathot (Groningen), Mulckhuyse (Leiden), Pinto (UvA), Munneke (London).

In 2016, Jan Theeuwes founded the Institute for Brain and Behavior Amsterdam (iBBA), an institute bringing together excellent interdisciplinary research into the psychological, neurological and cognitive aspects underling human behavior. In 2007, Jan Theeuwes established a highly recognized, international two-year research master named Cognitive Neuropsychology, which continues to attract excellent master students from all over the world.

Currently, Jan Theeuwes is the director of iBBA and is Distinguished Visiting Research Professor at the William James Center for Research (WJCR) at ISPA, Lisbon.

In addition to basic research, he is also an expert in human factors in applied settings. In 1995 he published a paper suggesting a new approach to road design known as “Self-Explaining Roads”, indicating that roads should be designed in such a way that road users immediately know how to behave and what to expect on these roads. This notion became the leading principle in road design worldwide. This year he wrote an overview paper describing how this concept developed over the last 25 years. With two colleagues, he wrote a book called “Designing Safe Road Systems” (Theeuwes et al., 2012), which is used as a handbook at many DOTs worldwide. Since 2004, Jan Theeuwes has been one of the principal advisor to the Dutch Department of Transportation (DOT/RWS) on road design issues. He is consulted several times per year to advise on human factors issues regarding perception, attention, road and tunnel design. With his students Mathot and Schreij, in 2012 he launched a new open-source graphical experiment builder called Open Sesame, which is used all over the world as the standard for building experiments (Mathot, Schreij & Theeuwes, B Res Methods, 2012 https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13428-011-0168-7. With a former PhD student, Bucker, Theeuwes started a company named Attention Architects Home | Attention Architects conducting research for companies involving applied—in the wild—eye tracking. In recent years, Theeuwes was awarded two NWO start-up grants to test the feasibility of recording eye movements in applied settings, and the feasibility of predicting eye movement behavior through deep neural networks.

Ancillary activities

  • Theeuwes Consultancy | Leiden | Adviseur | 2004-10-01 - present
  • Koninklijke Hollandse Maatschappij der Wetenschappen | haarlem | lid | 2016-05-01 - present
  • Attention Architects | Amsterdam | Partner | 2018-06-01 - present
  • Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen | Amsterdam | Lid van de KNAW | 2020-01-01 - present
  • William James Center for Research (WJCR) at ISPA | Lissabon | Distinguished Visiting Research Professor | 2021-09-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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