Mind, Body, Cultural Evolution Lab

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Team members


Ron Fischer. I am a Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. I was born in East Germany, but have spent much of my adult life exploring remote corners of the world, carrying a laptop and camera. My main academic interests are in the interplay between culture and human functioning in diverse ecological settings and the role of evolution for human well-being. I am a bit of a geek at heart, so I love tackling these big questions about culture and evolution by applying multivariate statistics while also daydreaming about more powerful multilevel models. I have published more than 100 articles and book chapters, and I have been named as one of the top 10 most cited researchers in culture and psychology. When not teaching or researching, I am serving as Associate Editor for Applied Psychology and am helping our research community by serving on various psychology and business journal editorial boards.

To find more info and publications, please visit my Google Scholar, ResearchGate and Academia.edu pages. My books are available via Amazon.


Rita Anne McNamara I am a Cultural Psychologist and Lecturer in Cross-cultural Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. My work combines social and developmental psychology with cultural anthropology. My work focuses on how we come to understand other minds (both human and non-human, real and imagined) and how we use this information to make decisions about cooperation, right vs. wrong, and whom to learn from. I do fieldwork with small communities of Indigenous iTaukei Fijians and run lab-based studies at Victoria University of Wellington; I conduct community-based and direct the Mind in Context Lab.

You can find out more about me here.

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Reneeta Mogan. Reneeta recently completed her PhD candidate in cross-cultural psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests are rituals and culture, prosocial behaviour, group dynamics and industrial-organisational psychology. Her thesis investigated how rituals affect people socially and cognitively. Specifically, Reneeta used different methodologies to examine how synchronous movements (a specific element of rituals) have positive social outcomes on social cohesion and potentially detrimental negative outcomes on creative thinking. Reneeta is also an intercultural communication trainer and has experience working with several organisations in New Zealand.

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Johannes Karl. Johannes completed his Masters in Cross-Cultural Psychology and currently is studying for his PhD. His MSc thesis focused on the interplay between rituals and anxiety, using psychophysiology, skeletal tracking, and recurrence quantification analysis, which is going to be published in Human Nature. His current research interests include mindfulness, awe, environmental and evolutionary influences on behaviour, adaptation of novel (food) technologies, and personality-environment interactions.


Megan Chrystal. Megan completed her Honours degree and volunteer research assistant at Victoria University of Wellington. Her primary interest is clinical psychology and she is currently focused on values and how behaving in accordance with (or against) our values affects our well-being. Specifically, her Honours research project was investigating how people feel after they become aware of the inconsistency between their behavior and the values they identify as important.


Joseph Bulbulia. Joseph is a Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has taught in the Religious Studies Programme at Victoria since August 2000. Broadly, he is interested in how religion evolved and how it continues to affect people. Visit his website here.



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Hazel Godfrey. Hazel completed her PhD. Ron was her secondary supervisor. People who experience chronic pain (pain lasting more than 6 months) experience trouble thinking. Hazel tested whether a bias in attention underlies some of these cognitive deficits. That is, whether pain experience motivates attention towards signals of pain and threat. Specifically, Hazel used cognitive psychology methods to test if there are different patterns in attention to visual stimuli related to pain and body tissue threat, in people experiencing chronic pain compared to controls.

Portrait Moritz Fischer

Moritz Fischer. Moritz is studying  in the masters program in Economic, Organizational and Social Psychology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. Before moving to Munich in 2016, he lived in Hamburg for four years where he received his bachelor degree in psychology from the University of Hamburg. His bachelor’s thesis focused on gaze motion towards the eyes of faces from different ethnicities. His current project is to identify social psychological mechanisms that are related to the development of radical political attitudes and the association between personal values and political attitudes.

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Kyle Simpson. Kyle completed his BA in Psychology & Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington in 2018. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Cross-Cultural Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. His research interests center around Cognitive and Evolutionary Psychology of Supernatural Belief, Personal and Cultural Narratives, Indigenous and Environmental Psychology, and Philosophy of Mind & Language. He can be contacted at simpsokyle@myvuw.ac.nz