Nelli works in the social psychology of behaviour change, in varied applied domains. She is interested in methods of developing theory-based interventions, and rigorously evaluating them to develop better theories of behaviour change. Read more about Nelli here.

Projects: Argumenta, Let's Move It, Self-determined motivation for work and health, Psychosocial processes of behaviour change
Twitter: @nhankonen
Personal webpage:
Other links: Google Scholar, ResearchGate, Publons and PlumX Altmetrics.

Associate Professor
Social Psychology
Field of science Social psychology, Psychology

Ari Haukkala is University lecturer in social psychology. His research program focuses on three main areas, 1) psychosocial factors in health and well-being, 2) theory-based behavior change interventions, and 3) psychosocial aspects in genomic research.

His current research projects include Public Understanding of Genomics where the aim is examine how health related genetic information is understood among lay people and what people do with genetic information. He is also involved with study by National institute of Health and welfare and Finnish Lynch syndrome study.

Another current project is related to mHealth, where it was examined how theory-based behavior change techniques are possible to embed to mhealth application in EU funded PRECIOUS project.

He teaches courses related to social psychology, behaviour change and quantitative research methods.

Projects: Pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of ge­net­ics and ge­netic risk com­mu­nic­a­tion in the era of whole gen­ome sequen­cing, PRECIOUS

University Researcher
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Field of science Social psychology

Keegan is a health psychologist with interests in the motivational processes that underlie health behavior change, and in understanding how individuals make use of interventions to change their behavior. He currently works in the motivation self-management (Moti) project, which aims to understand how the quality and quantity of motivation fluctuate over time, in order to identify ideal moments to deliver motivational interventions.

In the past, Keegan has worked on several meta-analyses to identify intervention components associated with increases in motivation, physical activity and weight loss maintenance.  He has also developed interventions to promote physical activity among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and among people with excess risk of cardiovascular disease. These projects involved developing (mhealth) behavior change tools for patients and developing interventions to train healthcare providers to deliver motivational interviews in practical settings.

Projects: Self-determined motivation for work and health

University Researcher
Social Psychology
Field of science Social psychology

Elina's main research interests lie in the fields of interaction, agency, motivation, well-being and behaviour change.

Her current research focus is primarily on motivational interaction and the changing of motivating style. She analyses the data from LMI key project that disseminated and implemented evidence-based intervention strategies into practice. She coordinates the Argumenta network. Disseminating social psychology research is close to Elina's heart.

Elina has worked extensively in the field of alcohol research. Her doctoral dissertation discusses attitudes toward alcohol screening and counselling in social work. Her future research topics in this area involve the construction of alcohol-related problems.

Projects: ArgumentaLet's Move It

Postdoctoral researcher
Social Psychology
Field of science Social psychology

Katri Kostamo is a postdoctoral researcher in the Social Psychology discipline at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Having previously been employed in the areas of health promotion, quality assurance, and knowledge management, she currently applies various mixed methods (triangulation, realist evaluation, and a qualitative survey) for process evaluation of interventions targeting people’s life style changes. This work has been funded by Juho Vainio Foundation and by a collaborator funded by Business Finland. 

Katri is especially interested in improving research effectiveness by evaluation, implementation and dissemination, thus increasing research relevance for policy and practice. Her doctoral dissertation explores physical activity by identifying critical incidents related to behaviour change. Focusing on critical incidents in storytelling can facilitate making conclusions about important components in behaviour change interventions. 

Projects: Let’s Move ItEvaluating intervention reception and the path toward successful lifestyle change: Qualitative longitudinal study 

Postdoctoral researcher
Social Psychology
Field of science Social psychology

Marleena Vornanen works in the area of public’s perspectives on genomics. She studies how lay people make sense of genetic risk information, and how this modifies their health-related choices. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how scientific advances in genomics integrate into society, social relations, and individual lives. Her doctoral research is part of the project Public Understanding of Genomics, funded by the Academy of Finland. Marleena is fascinated by the interaction of embodied experiences and cultural meanings that are attached to scientific knowledge. She is also involved with study by National institute of Health and welfare and Finnish Lynch syndrome study.

Projects: Pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of ge­net­ics and ge­netic risk com­mu­nic­a­tion in the era of whole gen­ome sequen­

University Lecturer
Open University
Field of science Social psychology

Before starting his PhD, Matthias Aulbach worked in addiction counseling and therapy, intensifying his interest in impulsive behavior and behavior change.

Thus, his main research interest is in dual-process models and in his PhD he is aiming to change impulsive determinants of eating behavior using computer-based tasks. In his research, he uses meta-analytical and experimental methods, including an excursion to the wonderful world of EEG-measurement. Matthias’s PhD project has received funding from the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation.

In addition, Matthias has worked in Ari Haukkala’s project on public understanding of genetics and genetic risk communication as well as Nelli Hankonen’s Let’s Move It project where he was mainly occupied with data analysis and such.

Projects: Pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of ge­net­ics and ge­netic risk com­mu­nic­a­tion in the era of whole gen­ome sequen­cing, Let’s move it

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Currently, Marguerite is researching the psychological mechanisms behind uptake and maintenance of well-being enhancing behaviors, e.g., mindfulness practice, among adolescents. She has previously worked with a variety of subjects in social psychology including subjective well-being, culture, income inequality, justification theory, moral and political psychology, motivation for physical activity, the role of literature in evoking sympathy/empathy, self-enactable motivation and behavior change techniques, and experimental frameworks for governments.

Projects: Healthy Learning Mind

Field of science Social psychology

Prior to academia, Matti worked in media, sales and marketing research. Now, as a cargo-cult complexity scientist, he is examining how complexity theory can contribute to helping people change their health behaviour. More specifically, he is working on how to evaluate the effects of intervention field trials, along with a more idiographic approach to studying and changing motivation. He balances PhD-ing with meditation and combat sports, and blogs about scientific methodology.

Projects: Self-determined motivation for work and health

Twitter: @Heinonmatti
Personal blog:
Other links: Publons, Google Scholar, LinkedIn

Doctoral Student
Social Psychology
Field of science Psychology, Social psychology, Public health care science, environmental and occupational health, Sport and fitness sciences

Johanna got intrigued by the opportunities that digital technologies offer for behavioural sciences while developing online courses within the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research (WHO collaborating centre). At the University of Helsinki, she worked for an Let's Move It intervention programme for adolescents’ physical activity and a three-year doctoral project designing, developing and testing a digital health platform as part of a multidisciplinary, EU funded consortium PRECIOUS.

Johanna is currently analysing intervention data of smartphone interventions with n-of-1 multilevel models and qualitative evaluations. She has conducted research with systematic review and meta-analysis, psychophysiological measures, surveys, interviews, and usability studies with think-aloud methods.

Johanna is interested in factors that support behaviour change, including motivational and self-regulatory elements related to self-determination theory and motivational interviewing. She enjoys developing gamified solutions to support engagement in health behaviours through challenges and fun.

Doctoral Student
Social Psychology
Field of science Social psychology

Otto Halmesvaara currently works in the project Public Understading of Genomics and is involved in the study as part of Ari Haukkala's team. Otto's expertises include quantitative methods and experimental study of emotions.

Melina is a licensed psychologist and qualified occupational health psychologist, in addition having a background in sport and exercise psychology. Before starting with her PhD, Melina has been working as an occupational health psychologist with experience in multiple health-related issues.

Melina is especially interested in motivation and behavior change, and she shares a passion for sport psychology. Currently, Melina is working with her PhD on motivational interaction and professional's behavior change in the context of exercise and sports. Melina is a part of Nelli Hankonen's research group.

Nils Sandman is postdoctoral researcher interested in sleep, dreaming and well-being. He has studied epidemiology of nightmares and sleep quality of adolescents and is also interested in promoting better sleep with interventions based on behavioral insight.

In 2020 Nils is visiting Behaviour change and wellbeing research group to work on ideas about sleep promoting interventions.

Minttu works as a research assistant in the Let’s Move It project team. She studies at the Master’s level and is highly interested in various fields of social psychology, especially in health behaviour, behaviour change and motivation. Prior to her social psychology studies she worked in sports coaching, recruiting and corporate communications, as well as competed on an international level in synchronized skating.

Recent research visits to the group and/or our key collaborators:

  • Professor Falko Sniehotta, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
  • Senior Lecturer Vera Araújo-Soares, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
  • Professor Leen Haerens, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Nathalie Aelterman, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Associate Professor Nina Hallowell, Oxford University, UK
  • Dr Wendy Hardeman, University of East Anglia, UK
  • Dr Marta Marquez, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Professor Tatiana van Strien, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & Radboud University Nijmege, The Netherland