Professor of Social Psychology
My main research interests include intergroup relations with a focus on the identities, social inequalities, prejudice, racism, discrimination as well as immigrant integration. Currently, I am closely involved in two collaborative projects. Together with prof. Jääskeläinen (Aalto University), I am co-leading the PREVENT-consortium (funded by the Academy of Finland), which aims at developing a social scientifically and neurobiologically informed understanding of prejudice and of the ways to reduce discrimination in social encounters off-line and in virtual reality. In addition, I am involved in the SRC funded DECA-project led by prof. Pantti (UH). Our study within DECA focuses on collective epistemic rights and capacities among cultural majority and minority groups in Finland. In ESSO, we find it very important to contribute outside the academia. I have served for several years the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal and currently represent ESSO in the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO) in Finland.
My research focuses on political rhetoric, which I mainly approach from critical discourse analytical perspectives. Thematically, my core areas of interest lie in nationalist and radical right-wing political rhetoric, political hate-speech, and political communication and persuasion in the online sphere. Through my research, I examine, for example, how politicians draw upon various social identities (e.g. ethnicity, nationality, gender) in their discourse, and what societal implications this discourse may have. I am also interested in combining discursive and visual analytical approaches in order to methodologically advance social psychological research into the multi-layered (political) communication in the online sphere.
My research interests encompass intergroup relations and contact, ethnic identity, racism/xenophobia and acculturation processes. I have studied various immigrant, refugee and other minority members and the attitudes (prejudice) and behaviour (discrimination) of majority members towards these. My research interests also includes finding ways to implement social psychological knowledge of intergroup relations in practice, e.g., in practice, e.g., in research projects developing a theory-driven prejudice-reduction intervention for schools (MONNI – Monikulttuurisempi koulu, 2009-2013 and Wise choices, 2015-2018).
I research immigrant integration and intergroup relations between ethnic majorities and minorities, with a special focus on attitudes, contacts, social identities, perceived discrimination and support for social change. Recently I have also studied intergroup relations between groups with different worldviews. I am especially interested in taking a reciprocal perspective to intergroup relations: how actual and perceived interaction with outgroups shapes the way we see and treat others. While most of my research utilizes a socio-cognitive approach, I have also studied multiculturalism and immigrant integration from a discursive psychological perspective.
By background, I am a psychologist and religion scholar with a focus on the social psychological study of religious identity and interreligious relations, primarily in the context of Islam in Europe. In my current project, I study the the ways in which young Shia Muslims in Finland use the Qur’an in negotiations of identity and authority. Besides these topics, I have also published on anti-Muslim attitudes in Finland, interreligious attitudes among atheists, Finnish mosque debates, moral psychology of Islamic sermons, and apostasy from Islam. Since 2014, I have authored or co-authored the Finnish section in the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe (Brill).
My research focuses on social meaning-making and the construction of intersectional identities. In my postdoctoral research in 2017–2020 I examined discursive and affective dynamics in meaning-making around violence, gender and ethnicity by analyzing online discussions and focus group interviews among welfare state professionals. In August 2020 I started working on by second postdoctoral research project entitled “Young people and sexual harassment: meanings and intersectional negotiations in diversifying socio-cultural contexts”. The project focuses on interlinkages between intersectional inequalities –such as those based on age, gender and sexual identities, ethnicities, and class – and sense-making and experiences of sexual harassment among young people. Theoretically and methodologically I draw upon approaches such as social constructionism, feminist poststructural theorization, intersectional theory, affect theory, and discursive methodologies with the aim of developing new ways of variously applying these perspectives in qualitative research aligned with critical social psychology.
My doctoral dissertation is devoted to the cross-cultural comparison of the role of religiosity in intergroup relations among national majorities in Finland, Germany, Norway and Australia. These contexts are all characterised as immigration-receiving countries with relatively homogeneous and secularised Protestant Christian populations looking for means to improve an interreligious dialogue with increasing Muslim minority groups. I have also dedicated one study to investigate the religiosity patterns and religious out-group attitudes of recent asylum seekers to Finland.
Doctoral student in Social Psychology
In my doctoral research I am aiming to reduce prejudice among adolescents by developing and assessing school interventions that are based on first-person stories of intergroup friendship told by youth who act as a peer models for attitude change. The theoretical background of my research lies in indirect intergroup contact, more precisely in the model of vicarious contact. The purpose of my doctoral research is twofold: On the theoretical level I will contribute to the academic discussion on indirect intergroup contact by defining the preconditions under which vicarious contact works and for whom, as well as by specifying different socio-cognitive and affective mechanisms of vicarious contact. On the practical level, my research aims to provide a tool for anti-discriminatory education that can be used independently in schools.
My doctoral research focuses on disinformation and political polarization online, especially in the context of hybrid regimes. My focus is on how people perceive news online and how it relates to their identities and political decision-making. I am also interested in the visual and performative strategies of online political communication and conspiracy narratives.
My research area revolves around better understanding the emotional side of prejudice, specifically how it influences everyday interactions with minorities from an intergroup relations perspective. I am part of the PREVENT project, which aims at overcoming the methodological issues of studying emotional reactions to intergroup contact by adopting a multidsciplinary approach. I have also studied how socioeconomic inequality is influenced by group identification and perceived justice.
Doctoral student in Social Psychology
My doctoral research focuses on the discursive construction of intersectional identities. In my research I am particularly looking into how intersections of gender, nationality and religion are mobilised in online discussions about (violent) conflicts and how nation and belonging, Otherness and morality are constructed within these discussions.
Doctoral student in Gender, Culture, and Society
I am interested in multidisciplinary studies and more practical work. My research interests are relevant to gender-based violence, victims ’intersectional experiences, and the legal response to them. My doctoral research examines adolescent Asian girl victims ’narratives of acquaintance sexual violence and the Finnish and UK’s criminal justice systems. I will understand the victims ’collective victimhood and identities in the European postcolonial context, examine the power relation of acquaintance sexual violence, and also disclose social, cultural, political, and criminal influences on the Finnish and UK’s criminal justice systems.
In my doctoral research, I explore the interplay between religiosity, morality, and social integration outcomes within the context of Muslim immigrants in Finland. I also investigate how religiosity within this community relates to attitudes toward personal freedoms (blasphemy, apostasy, and homosexuality) and out-groups that align with these freedoms. Furthermore, I delve into the experiences of closeted ex-Muslims, examining how factors such as social isolation, dual identities, and societal pressures affect their mental and emotional well-being.
My research interests focus on ethnolinguistic identities and ethnic relations. In my doctoral research, I study strategies of adaptation of Finno-Ugric migrants coming from Russia to Finland and Estonia in the light of ethnolinguistic identity transformations. I use two levels of analysis: on the micro level, I employ an ethnographic approach and study how individuals construct and negotiate their ethnic identities; on the macro level, I study how Finno-Ugric and ‘kindred’ minority identities are constructed in the official discourses of Finland, Estonia and Russia.
Doctoral student in Social Data Science and Social Psychology
My research focuses on the perception of debatable issues such as abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and prostitution as immoral and/or illegal. It is based on the claim that the potential discrepancy between what citizens justify and what is defined as legal by the state is shaped by the changing social, political, and cultural context. The study uses a mixed-method approach to investigate the role of existing social structures in framing moral issues on individual and group-levels in a broad cross-national perspective.
Doctoral student in Social Psychology
My doctoral research aims to study facets of social belonging that are of particular salience when focusing on minority populations, such as collective psychological ownership, measures of integration and the effects of linguistically segregated information environments. More broadly I study intergroup relations between minority and majority groups, and sociopolitical acculturation and integration. In addition to my doctoral research I’ve studied youth and young people from a wide array of perspectives, such as the consequences of restrictions enacted during the COVID pandemic, relationship with nature, and leisure activities. I approach research through multiple theoretical frameworks, disciplines and methods of analysis, with an aim of producing transparent and actionable information.