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My primary interests are in the cognitive underpinnings of religious belief, which I examine using methods from experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience. I’m also particularly interested in the overlap between how we mentally construct events (either in the past or future) and religion. For example, I do research in the interaction between religion and episodic memory (e.g., religious rituals) and religion and episodic future thought (e.g., future predictions), and how we use those mentally constructed events to construct life narratives or to create a sense of control. Finally, my interest in imagination and religion extends to counterfactual thinking, fluency and creativity.
Valerie completed her doctoral studies at the School of Psychology, the University of Auckland, New Zealand in 2014. There, she did research in the cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory and future event imagination. After her PhD, she completed a postdoctoral project at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she investigated the intersection between religious ritual and episodic memory. She then joined the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, where she worked on religion, memory and group processes as part of the Ritual, Community, and Conflict project. Valerie joined the Brain, Belief and Behaviour group at the Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University, as Research Associate at the beginning of 2016.
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