Prof. N. (Naomi) Ellemers

Social Psychology of Organisations, Leiden University, Spinoza Laureate 2010

Prof. N. (Naomi) Ellemers

Naomi Ellemers (1963) investigates the social psychology of organisations. How do people work together? What are the consequences of this for their motivation, performance and ability to innovate? Ellemers research mainly focuses on the role of status differences between groups. For example, by examining the career development of women and minorities. Ellemers combines her research in the everyday practice of organisations with laboratory experiments into the underlying psychological processes. A quite rare yet fruitful combination that yields new theoretical insights. With this approach, Ellemers has argued and demonstrated that individual commitment primarily depends on people’s ability to identify with the moral values of groups or organisations, instead of financial recompensations or the career perspectives these represent.

Ellemers studied psychology at Berkeley (US) and in Groningen. She graduated cum laude in 1987. In 1991, she gained her doctorate cum laude from Groningen for research into strategies that people from lower status groups can use to improve their position. From 1991 to 1996 she was a lecturer and from 1996 to 1998 senior lecturer at VU University Amsterdam. Since 1999 she has been a professor at Leiden University.

In 1991, Ellemers received the prize for the best VU University Amsterdam lecturer on the psychology degree course. In 2008, she received the Kurt Lewin Award, the triannual prize of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology. At the end of January 2010, in the presence of Prinses Máxima of the Netherlands, she received the first KNAW 'Merian prize for women in science'.

Ellemers has obtained numerous Dutch and international grants. For example, she supervised Dennis Bleeker and Serena Does, two Mosaic winners, and led a large research project into value conflicts. She also holds various key positions within international scientific associations and the editorial boards of academic journals. She evaluates grant applications for the national science funding bodies of the United States, Australia, South Africa and Israel. From 2004 to 2007 she was also a board member of the NWO Division for the Social Sciences.

Ellemers has developed various courses, including a two-year research master and career courses for female scientists. She has been a guest lecturer at the universities of Münster, Massachussets (Amherst), Canberra, Brisbane and Bologna.

Foreign experts praise Ellemers. She is cited two-and-a-half times more often than her colleagues. She is one of the world's top 10 scientists in her discipline. Ellemers adds new theoretical insights into the behaviour of individuals in groups and about how groups behave in relationship to each other. In brief, she is an excellent and exceptionally influential social psychologist. She definitely merits a Spinoza Prize. 

Spinoza Laureates

Information on the Spinoza Laureates dates from the year the award was granted.