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portrait of Dr Andreas Kappes

Dr Andreas Kappes

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Contact Information


Visit Andreas Kappes

D409, Rhind Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



I'm trying to understand the social behaviour of humans from the mundane to the magnificent, from the best to the worst and everything in between. Specifically, I'm interested in how the unavoidable uncertainty in all our social decisions affects our behaviour, how and when we are influenced by others, and how we learn about ourselves and others. I have a strong interest in evidence-based policy, especially in relation to infectious diseases and pandemics.

My approach is one that is situated between psychology, neuroscience, and behavioural economics. As a social psychologist, I focus on the circumstances: what are the situations when people are, for instance, likely to cooperate and what are the situations when people are likely to cheat? And I'm trying then to use my neuroscientific training to understand how the psychological mechanisms that support the behaviour are implemented in the brain. I often use economic decisions and experiments inspired by behavioural economic approaches to study social behaviours.


  1. Research Fellow, University of Oxford, May 2014 – Oct 2017
  2. Post-doc, University College London / New York University, Oct 2012 – Apr 2014


  1. Kappes, A., Harvey, A.H., Lohrenz, T., Montague, P.R. and Sharot, T. (2020). Confirmation bias in the utilization of others’ opinion strength. Nature Neuroscience, 23(1), pp. 130–137. doi:10.1038/s41593-019-0549-2.
  2. Kappes, A., Nussberger, A.M., Faber, N.S., Kahane, G., Savulescu, J. and Crockett, M.J. (2018). Uncertainty about the impact of social decisions increases prosocial behaviour. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(8), pp. 573–580. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0372-x.
  3. Kappes, A., Faber, N.S., Kahane, G., Savulescu, J. and Crockett, M.J. (2018). Concern for Others Leads to Vicarious Optimism. Psychological Science, 29(3), pp. 379–389. doi:10.1177/0956797617737129.

Journal articles (14)

  1. Wilkinson, D., Zohny, H., Kappes, A., Sinnott-Armstrong, W. and Savulescu, J. (2020). Which factors should be included in triage? An online survey of the attitudes of the UK general public to pandemic triage dilemmas. BMJ Open, 10(12). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045593.
  2. Wittleder, S., Kappes, A., Oettingen, G., Gollwitzer, P.M., Jay, M. and Morgenstern, J. (2019). Mental Contrasting With Implementation Intentions Reduces Drinking When Drinking Is Hazardous: An Online Self-Regulation Intervention. Health Education & Behavior, 46(4), pp. 666–676. doi:10.1177/1090198119826284.
  3. Kappes, A., Nussberger, A.-.M., Siegel, J.Z., Rutledge, R.B. and Crockett, M.J. (2019). Social uncertainty is heterogeneous and sometimes valuable. Nature Human Behaviour, 3(8), pp. 764–764. doi:10.1038/s41562-019-0662-y.
  4. Wittleder, S., Kappes, A., Krott, N.R., Jay, M. and Oettingen, G. (2019). Mental contrasting spurs energy by changing implicit evaluations of obstacles. Motivation Science. doi:10.1037/mot0000140.
  6. Kappes, A., Kahane, G. and Crockett, M.J. (2016). From risk to fairness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(42), pp. 11651–11653. doi:10.1073/pnas.1614111113.
  7. Park, G., Kappes, A., Rho, Y. and Van Bavel, J.J. (2016). At the heart of morality lies neuro-visceral integration: lower cardiac vagal tone predicts utilitarian moral judgment. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(10), pp. 1588–1596. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw077.
  8. Kappes, A. and Crockett, M.J. (2016). The Benefits and Costs of a Rose-Colored Hindsight. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(9), pp. 644–646. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2016.06.009.
  9. Kappes, A. and Oettingen, G. (2014). The emergence of goal pursuit: Mental contrasting connects future and reality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 54, pp. 25–39. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2014.03.014.
  10. Merkt, J., Singmann, H., Bodenburg, S., Goossens-Merkt, H., Kappes, A., Wendt, M. … Gawrilow, C. (2013). Flanker performance in female college students with ADHD: a diffusion model analysis. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, 5(4), pp. 321–341. doi:10.1007/s12402-013-0110-1.
  11. Kappes, A., Wendt, M., Reinelt, T. and Oettingen, G. (2013). Mental contrasting changes the meaning of reality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(5), pp. 797–810. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2013.03.010.
  12. Kappes, A. and Schikowski, A. (2013). Implicit theories of emotion shape regulation of negative affect. Cognition & Emotion, 27(5), pp. 952–960. doi:10.1080/02699931.2012.753415.
  13. Kappes, A., Singmann, H. and Oettingen, G. (2012). Mental contrasting instigates goal pursuit by linking obstacles of reality with instrumental behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(4), pp. 811–818. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.002.
  14. Kappes, A., Oettingen, G. and Pak, H. (2012). Mental Contrasting and the Self-Regulation of Responding to Negative Feedback. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(7), pp. 845–857. doi:10.1177/0146167212446833.

Other Activities

Media appearances (4)

  1. Coronavirus: From China to the US, consumer behavior radically altered as world retreats into ‘survi. South China Morning Post
  2. Italy made its own entertainment on coronavirus lockdown (NBC).
  3. Tutti pazzi per la carta igienica. Perché? Lo abbiamo chiesto allo psicologo.
  4. The Best Response to the Coronavirus? Altruism, Not Panic (New York Times).

    My correction on Twitter:

Radio programmes (3)

  1. Why don’t we care about facts? BBC Worldservice, The Inquiry Listen here:

    We have a great capacity to ignore facts and only believe what we want to believe – particularly if those facts clash with our convictions. Why is that and is it getting worse? It’s an area that is being intensely studied by psychologists, political scientists and neuroscientists.

    Ruth Alexander explores why we ignore facts, even if it’s bad for us. Though she also hears how, in some circumstances, it can be good for our mental health.
    But our casual attitude towards facts can have serious consequences. According to experts this is happening across the world, in politics, in health and in our daily lives. This behaviour is not the preserve of any particular political group – everyone does it when it suits them.

    Presenter: Ruth Alexander
    Producer: John Murphy
  2. Sportler haben ein besonders starkes Gefühl der Unverwundbarkeit. Deutschlandfunk Professionelle Sportler hätten einen langjährigen Selektionsprozess hinter sich. Ein gewisses psychologisches Profil helfe dabei, diesen zu überstehen. Deshalb seien Sportler besonders optimistisch, hätten besonders starke Kontrollüberzeugungen und ein besonders starkes Gefühl der Unverwundbarkeit und Unverletzlichkeit, sagte Psychologe Andreas Kappes im Dlf-Interview.
  3. Would I lie to you, baby? - Life in the post-truth era. Deutsche Welle Sweet little lies, or big massive whoppers? Either way, truth is a flexible concept in politics these days. So this week we're talking dodgy facts and fake news. Can Dundar, Nanjira Sambuli and Andreas Kappes join Damien McGuinness and Kate Brady for a special edition of Stammtich, live from the Global Media Forum in Bonn.

Television programmes (3)

  1. Coronavirus: How do we protect our mental health? Al Jazeera Link:

    The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the entire world into a state of uncertainty that is taking a toll on people with existing mental health conditions. And as millions face sickness, isolation, financial hardship and information overload it is likely to trigger a whole new set of conditions.

    One group particularly at risk during this time are people with anxiety disorders, which approximately 264 million people around the world suffer from. Another highly vulnerable group are those that suffer from depressive disorders. As we are forced into social distancing, feelings of isolation can have a fatal fallout.

    As WHO and health authorities across the globe act to contain the outbreak, advice on safeguarding mental health, has been developed by the UN health agency’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use. This includes coronavirus updates from reliable sources only, taking time to exercise, spending time outside and staying connected to family and friends via social media.

    In this episode we’ll speak to experts about the impact of coronavirus on our collective mental health. Send your questions for our panel.
  2. What can we learn from Italy's coronavirus crisis? Al Jazeera Link to watch:

    Hospitals and morgues overwhelmed, bodies piling up in churches and just under 800 deaths in one single day.
    That's the shocking reality in Italy which has become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
    And a symbol of the enormous challenges facing Europe's public health systems.
    The Italian government is struggling to keep up with the spread of the virus.
    It has sent in the army to enforce the lockdown in Lombardy, the northern region at the centre of the outbreak
    And it's tightening already strict controls on daily life.
    Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte has ordered all but the most essential businesses to close until April 3.
    But will that reduce the number of people dying?
    And what lessons can other countries learn from Italy?
  3. How to maintain your mental health during a global pandemic? I Inside Story. Al Jazeera Link to watch:

    Our world is experiencing an extraordinary health emergency.
    Hundreds of millions of people have been told to stay home and limit their contact with others.
    The Coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 11-thousand people and cases continue to rise.
    And the situation is creating panic and anxiety for some.
    Health experts are now warning our mental health is at stake.
    Nearly 264 million people suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder.
    And the global health crisis is leading to a loss of sleep, concentration and stress for many.
    Doctors say they're treating patients who have been affected by the constant bombarment of information about the virus and the uncertainty it brings.
    So how do you protect your mental health while in self-isolation? And what measures can be taken to lessen its impact?