Mind, Body, Cultural Evolution Lab

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Team members

RonRon FischerI 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 ScholarResearchGate and Academia.edu pages. My books are available via Amazon. You can find my CV here.


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.

Reneeta photo 1Reneeta Mogan. Reneeta is a 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 investigates how rituals affect people socially and cognitively. Specifically, Reneeta uses 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.

Johannes Karl LinkedinJohannes Karl. Johannes is currently a Master student in Cross-Cultural Psychology. His thesis focuses on the interplay between rituals and anxiety, using psychophysiology, skeletal tracking, and recurrence quantification analysis. His research interests also include, environmental and evolutionary influences on behaviour, adaptation of novel (food) technologies, and personality-environment interactions.

MeganPictureMegan 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.

30959_REC009Joseph Bulbulia. Joseph is a Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University in Wellington, 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.



Hazel Godfrey Profile PicHazel 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.


Amelie Effelsberg. Amelie is currently an intern at the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research and Ron is her supervisor. She wrote her master thesis on the benefits of a specific humour training for chronic pain patients, which was developed, applied and analysed by her and fellow students from the University of Regensburg in Germany. Her current research interests include: pain, bonding, intercultural differences, humour and dance-/movement therapy.


Alexandra Quintus. Alexandra is a student from Germany and is in the final year of her bachelor’s degree . Alexandra is currently an intern for the Centre of Applied Cross- Cultural Research. Her interests are intercultural psychology as well as clinical psychology.







Line Vestergaard is from Denmark where she studies at the University of Copenhagen. She is in her 6th semester of anthropology and since June has called New Zealand my home. Her adventure started in Dunedin where she was on exchange. She is an adventurer by heart and her curiosity for exploring different understandings of the world led her to find and apply for the internship at CACR. Her main academic interests are the aspects of life that we tend to take for granted but whose interpretations can actually vary across cultures. She has previously worked with social and cultural views on belonging, norms, health, death and happiness. Her supervisor is Prof Ronald Fisher and both his current and previous research touches similar fields of interest. Being a professor in psychology, his approach to these subjects are somewhat different from the way that she has been working as an anthropology student. For her, doing this internship with Ronald as her supervisor, it is a great opportunity to learn and practice different academic methods and explore new ideas on the world.