Dr Valerie van Mulukom
Valerie van Mulukom, PhD, is an assistant professor at Coventry University (UK). Her cognitive science research takes place at the intersection of imagination, memory, and belief, combining methods from cognitive neuroscience and social and experimental psychology.
She has done extensive work on how partaking in rituals and other significant experiences together with others contributes to social bonding, from Christian church rituals to psychedelic trips and raves. A particular aspect of interest of these experiences are the transcendental emotions (e.g., awe) that may lead to feelings of connectedness to something bigger (e.g., God, the universe, etc.) and/or to others.
In addition, she is interested in the evolution of imagination, for example how narrative, supported by imagination, allows humans to make sense of the world, and how our capacity for imagination allows us to construct social realities and live together in large societies. This research strand includes an interest in how we come to endorse certain narratives (incl. conspiracy theories), and what contexts we do so.
Valerie has a BA in Language and Culture Studies and an MPhil in Linguistics (Utrecht University, the Netherlands), and a PhD in Psychology (the University of Auckland, New Zealand). Her doctoral work focused on the cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory and imagination.