Jean-Louis van Gelder


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Personal profile

Research interests

My work focuses on the use of novel methods, such as virtual reality, to study phenomena related to crime and public safety. Using these and also more traditional research methods, I study what factors render people shortsighted and how this shortsightedness results in self-defeating behavior. Furthermore, I am interested in the role of emotions and personality factors in risky and criminal decision making.


Time & Crime
I was recently (2017) awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant for my project ‘Crime and Time: How short-term mindsets encourage crime and how the future self can prevent it’. The aim of the project is to outline a new theoretical perspective on criminal behavior that integrates dispositional theories, which argue that stable factors within the individual, such as lack of self-control, lie at the roots of criminal conduct, with sociogenic perspectives which put the locus of study outside the individual and point towards contextual factors such as rough neighborhoods, parental unemployment, and deviant peers views. My theory is premised on the idea that short-term mindsets encourage crime and specifies how both individual dispositions and sociogenic variables can encourage such mindsets. I test this theory using a combination of longitudinal research and behavioral field experiments. On this project I collaborate with various research inside and outside the Netherlands including (Sven Zebel, University of Twente), Hal Hershfield (UCLA), Margit Averdijk, Denis Ribeaud and Manuel Eisner (University of Zurich).

The FutureU project (with Dr. Liza Cornet) is also part of the ERC Consolidator Grant and is co-funded by the Innovation Fund of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Safety and involves an intervention for offender rehabilitation that is being developed in collaboration with the Probation Service (Reclassering Nederland). Using a combination of virtual reality and a smartphone application the intervention aims to acquiant young offenders with their future self.

The Virtual Burglary Project
The Virtual Burglary Project (with Dr. Claire Nee, Marco Otte, Dr. Zarah Vernham, Prof. Paul van Lange, Dr. Jan Willem van Prooijen, Iris van Sintemaartensdijk (PhD candidate), Amy Meenaghan (PhD candidate) and Matthew Talbot (PhD candidate) is a collaboration between the the University of Twente, the University of Portsmouth and VU University and involves the use of virtual environments that can be used to study the behavior of burglars. The project is led by Dr. Nee and myself and aims to learn more about how burglars choose and attack targets, how their behavior varies with levels of expertise, and how it adapts to varieties in risk and reward through the use of virtual reality. Results of the project will help answer fundamental questions related to criminological theory and help develop prevention strategies. The project is co-funded by Dutch Ministry of Justice and Safety and a Police & Science (Politie&Wetenschap) Grant.

I have a longstanding and ongoing collaboration with Dr. Margit Averdijk, Prof. Manuel Eisner (PI) and Dr. Denis Ribeaud from Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood Adulthood z-proso (Jacobs Center, University of Zurich) which follows the life-course of 1,400 youths and the pathways that lead to violence and delinquency.

External positions

External Research Associate, University of Portsmouth

Visiting Research Fellow


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