"Our research on perceived justice and uncertainty helps to further trust in law and society and to prevent polarization, violent extremism, and terrorism"

Kees van den Bos, Professor of Social Psychology, Professor of Empirical Legal Science


Societal Conflict and Justice

The research of Kees van den Bos focuses on conflicts in society. People are often uncertain about their role in society. They are therefore looking for information to remove this uncertainty. When they are treated in just ways by important societal authorities (such as judges or politicians but also civil servants and work supervisors) this can lead to interpersonal trust as well as trust in government, democracy, and the rule of law. In contrast, perceived injustice feeds societal conflict and can contribute to radicalization into violent extremism and terrorism.



In his research, Van den Bos integrates social psychology and empirical legal research. Together with colleagues, he developed a research program that (1) systematically addresses fundamental questions pertaining to the experience of (in)justice and (2) uses the basic insights thus obtained to understand complex social and societal phenomena that revolve around social conflict, trust and distrust in society, perceived fair and unfair treatment, morality, cultural worldviews, pro-social behavior, radicalization, extremism and terrorism. These insights are then applied in important societal contexts, especially in the domain of law, social conflict, and society. Topics that he studies include the issue of fair processes in government-citizen interactions, the role of group deprivation and breaches of morality in terrorism and radical behavior, and the psychological processes that lead people to trust government and important social institutions.


Short CV

Kees van den Bos is Professor of Social Psychology Including the Social Psychology of Organizations (since 2001) and Professor of Empirical Legal Science (since 2013). Van den Bos has published around 300 publications, including several publications in high-impact outlets. He received his Ph.D. cum laude at Leiden University in 1996, won a dissertation award of the Association of Dutch Social Psychologists, and obtained several competitive research grants, including VICI and Gravitation grants from the Dutch national science foundation, and several research grants from Dutch ministries. He was an associate editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the European Journal of Social Psychology, and Social Justice Research. A former chair of his department for several years, Kees was the Psychology Teacher of the Year in 2009, 2010, and 2018 at Utrecht University. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Kees is a first-generation student.


Some publications

  • The Fair Process Effect (2024, Cambridge University Press)
  • Social Psychology and Law (2021, Handbook of Basic Principles)
  • Unfairness and Radicalization (2020, Annual Review)
  • Empirical Legal Research (2020, Elgar)
  • Why People Radicalize (2018, Oxford University Press)
  • Inhibition of Benign Social Motives (2013, Advances)
  • Subjective Quality of Social Justice (2003, JPSP)
  • Uncertainty Management and Fairness Judgments (2001, Advances)
  • How do I Judge my Outcome (1997, JPSP)

(For highlights of more applied work, please see the Dutch version of this website)


Social Psychology Including the Social Psychology of Organizations; Empirical Legal Science