Lieke Asma

Our sixteenth alumni presented in this series of Alumni of Psychology is Lieke Asma. She graduated from the psychology master Cognition, Media, and Ergonomics at the University of Twente. Her masterthesis was in the area of cognitive neuroscience. She studied the influence of emotion on pain perception by means of EEG. In 2009 she started studying Philsoophy of Behavioral Science at the Radboud University which she finished in 2013. She currently works as a postdoctoral fellow at the Munich School of Philosophy.

How long did it take to find your first job?

I already had a job as teacher in Psychology and mediator at the Science Shop at the University Twente. Later I joined a research project as junior researcher, also at the University of Twente. We studied the attitudes of primary teachers towards science and technology. I was not completely sure what I wanted to do but enjoyed the atmosphere at the university a lot, so it was great that I could extent my stay.

What are your tasks and responsibilities?

Currently I work at the Munich School of Philosophy as a postdoctoral fellow. My research is part of a larger project that focuses on the relationship between implicit motivation and flourishing. I specifically focus on the relationship between implicit motives, intentional action, and flourishing. I work as a philosopher, which roughly means that I do not conduct empirical research but focus on the concepts and how they relate. I ask what for example implicit motives are, are they states of the brain, entities, dispositions? And how do they relate to intentional actions? Can they cause them or do they relate to them in a different way? This is philosophically interesting, and also has implications for psychological research. I use a lot of psychological and neuroscientific research to answer these questions as well, for which my background in psychology and neuroscience is very helpful.

What have you taken along your study which you now profit from?

In my project we cooperate with psychologists, and we integrate psychological research in our research. Because of that my background in psychology is an advantage. Not only because I can read and understand the articles quickly, but also because I have experience with the way in which the research is conducted and what the reasoning behind the experiments and the interpretation of the data is. Also, during my study I developed my academic skills, like presenting my work, integrating large amounts of literature, and managing and organizing my writing.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

I really enjoy doing research on the boundary between philosophy and psychology. I also think that a lot can be gained here, both philosophy and psychology can profit from more cross-fertilization. I think my aims when I started studying philosophy of behavioral science are still my aims today: integrate psychological and philosophical approaches to problems such as mental disorder, free will, autonomy, and get a better understanding of behavioral science as a discipline, its strengths and limitations. Concretely, that means that I want to read a lot, think a lot, write and publish my ideas, and of course hope that people will read my work.

If you think about you study time, which memory comes up first?

I really felt to be in the right place. This is the feeling that comes up when I think about my study time. We were the first group that studied psychology at the University of Twente, in 2002, and interaction with the teachers and the director of education, Jules Pieters, was very open and informal. We were given opportunities to contribute to the further development of the study. For example, after the course Psychological Design 2 Jules Pieters asked my fellow students and me to further develop and give a stress management workshop for first year students we worked on during the course. That was a great experience, and we learned a lot from that. I am very grateful for opportunities like these. Also my time as a board member of study association Dimensie has been unforgettable, I learned so much about myself and cooperating with others, and we also had a lot of fun.

Which tips and tricks would you like to give to current students?

Do not wait until after having finished your study to find out about what you want to do. This is the time to do that. Ask around, find out what you enjoy by trying out things, tell people about your plans, etc. Do not see your study time as merely passing all the required classes, but as a time to explore and develop yourself.

In her dissertation, Lieke Asma argues that often it is not made clear how unconscious influences and free will are related, and why these findings are threatening. She points out that these experiments might be threatening because they seem to show that we do not act intentionally. If we do not act intentionally, we lack conscious control and are not free. However, she also argues that these unconscious explanations of behavior do not exclude that agents act intentionally as well. Even though these experiments might show that our conscious intentions have neural precursors and the way in which we intentionally act can be influenced by all kinds of factors, it does not follow that we do not act intentionally and consciously control what we do. Read more about it here:

Any questions to Lieke?

This alumni has given the opportunity to answer questions about his/her work. If you have a question you are invited to mail this questions to Our moderator will bring you in touch with the alumni, who will answer your questions. For direct career opportunities you are advised to get in touch with the Human Resources department of the employer.

Get in touch!

Do you know someone who has a nice job, has an inspiring career of otherwise is interesting to join the Humans of Psychology series? Please get them in touch with us. To be able to keep this weekly series going more alumni are needed.

Published: April 7th, 2019