People

Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti
Professor of Social Psychology

My main research interests include intergroup relations with a focus on the identities, prejudice, racism, discrimination as well as immigrant integration. I obtained my doctoral degree in 2000 and my doctoral dissertation dealt with the acculturation and adaptation of Russian-speaking immigrant adolescents in Finland. Since then I have done extensive research on intergroup relations and immigrant integration in Finland and other European countries. Currently, I am leading the SOPU -project (“Reciprocal glocal neighbourhoods – Russian neighbors in Finland, Estonia and Norway”, Kone Foundation), which focuses on what (dis)courages people from trusting and investing in mutually respectful interaction both on- and off-line; and a comparative study on the role of religiosity in intergroup relations in Australia, Finland, Germany, and Norway. I am also happy to start a new PREVENT -project (Development of the neurobiologically and social scientifically informed approach to prejudice and its reduction), which is a collaborative research endeavour led by my colleague Prof. Iiro Jääskeläinen from Aalto University and which aims at uncovering the emotional side of prejudice. Apart from being an active researcher and member of the international research community including Fellowship in IAIR, I find it very important to contribute outside the academia. I have served for several years the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal and have been recently also appointed to represent ESSO in the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO) in Finland.

Recent publications and presentations.


Karmela Liebkind
Professor Emerita of Social Psychology

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).

Recent publications and presentations.


Tuuli Anna Renvik
University Lecturer (Open University, University of Helsinki)

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.

Recent publications and presentations.


Katarina Pettersson
University Lecturer (Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki)

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.

Recent publications and presentations.


Teemu Pauha
University Lecturer in Islamic Theology

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).

Recent publications and presentations.


Sirkku Varjonen
Postdoctoral researcher

In my doctoral thesis I have analysed immigrant life stories examining how immigrants construct their identities and negotiate their position in the Finnish society. I also collaborated with the INPRES and SINI projects led by Professor Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti.
I am a member of a Puhekupla (Speech bubble) working group formed by artists and researchers. Puhekupla has organized events in bars and care homes around Finland, using participatory theatre to inspire discussions around the topic of immigration and intercultural encounters. In this project our analysis focuses on the ways people argue for their points of view in these events. Another part of the research explores what it means for us as social scientists and performing artist to engage with the audience in this manner.
I also work as a senior researcher in the Finnish Rehabilitation Foundation on the issues of participation and integration of immigrants in Finland.


Satu Venäläinen
Postdoctoral researcher

My research focuses on social meaning-making and the construction of intersectional identities. In my postdoctoral research in 20172020 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.

Recent publications and presentations.


Florencia Sortheix
Postdoctoral researcher

Florencia is a research fellow at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, Finland and at RECSM, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain. She was awarded the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (Finland) grant to work on the project “The social divide: Examining the gaps in values and well-being among young people” (2019-2020). The study investigates the changes and polarization in subjective well-being (SWB) and personal values of young adults using comprehensive cross-cultural data sets from Europe (European Social Survey), Northern Africa and worldwide. Florencia is also an Adjunct Professor at EADA Business School in Barcelona. I have been working in the FinEdu project on the development of work values and their associations with career outcomes (work engagement, entrepreneurship) funded by the Academy of Finland. I’m also part of the reviewer board for the Journal of Vocational Behavior and Frontiers in Psychology and I have published several articles on the relationships between personal values and well-being from cross-cultural perspective. My research interests include personal and cultural values, well-being, cross-cultural psychology, and career development. I have also thought a course on values and sustainability and I’m developing some collaborations in this topic.

Recent publications and presentations.


Elina Turjanmaa
Postdoctoral researcher

My research focuses on family relationships in the context of migration. In my doctoral thesis, I studied adolescents’ experiences of intergenerational relations after migration in Finland. Currently I work as a Postdoc at the University of Oulu in a project “Postmemory of family separation: An intergenerational perspective” (Academy of Finland, 2019-2023). In this project, I study how forced family separation and family reminiscence relate to well-being of second and third generation Ingrians in the three national contexts (Finland, Sweden and Estonia).

Recent publications and presentations


Emma Nortio
Postdoctoral researcher

My research interests range from social psychology of intergroup relations to methodological questions. In my doctoral dissertation, which was a part of SINI and SOPU projects, I examined the Finnish lay discourse of multiculturalism through critical discursive analysis of focus group and online discussions. I have also examined the ways in which immigrant integration and national identities are discussed online. Currently, I work as a postdoctoral researcher in Puhekupla (Speech bubble) project that combines the perspectives of social psychology, social pedagogy and participatory theater to look for dialogic encounters in the context of immigration and intercultural encounters.

Recent publications and presentations.


Matthias Aulbach
Postdoctoral researcher

Before starting my PhD, I made use of my psychology degree by working in addiction counseling and therapy, intensifying my interest in impulsive behavior and behavior change. Thus, my main research interest is in dual-process models and in my PhD I examined interventions aiming to change impulsive determinants of eating behavior using computer-based tasks. In my research, I have used meta-analytical and experimental methods, including an excursion to the wonderful world of EEG-measurement, but also data from a smartphone-delivered real-world intervention (See more here). As of January 2021 I work as a Postdoc in the Academy of Finland-funded PREVENT project in which we will examine the role of emotions in intergroup contact with different stereotyped groups. Using this knowledge, we aim to develop interventions to reduce prejudice and foster positive intergroup relations.

Recent publications and presentations


Göksu Celikkol
Doctoral student in Social Psychology

My research focus is on people’s understandings of cultural diversity in everyday life and their strategies in dealing with it. Specifically, I am interested in studying the subjective understandings of cultural diversity in relation to the actual numerical diversity, and their role in determining intergroup relations in neighborhoods and contexts that are culturally diverse to a certain degree. With a special focus given to Finland, I will examine the intergroup relations in contexts with considerable amounts of Russian immigrants in their society (Estonia and Norway), as well as with samples from different age groups (adolescents and adults).

Recent publications and presentations


Viivi Mäkinen
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.

Recent publications and presentations


Viivi Eskelinen
Doctoral student in 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.

Recent publications and presentations


Matilde Tassinari
Doctoral student in Social Psychology

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.

Recent publications and presentations


Aleksandr Zamiatin
Doctoral student in Social Psychology

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.

Recent publications and presentations


Zea Szebeni
Doctoral student in Social Psychology

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.

Recent publications and presentations


Anastasiia Volkova
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.

Recent publications and presentations