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(In)Focus series

Dr Ilka Gleibs

A spotlight on our people, research and projects across social psychology & behavioural science

I most like the interaction with people from all over the world, who bring their own experiences and ideas that help to rethink theories and practises that we teach.

Dr Ilka Gleibs

Dr Ilka Gleibs is an Associate Professor in Social and Organisational Psychology at LSE. In this interview Ilka tells us about her recent trip to the 20th Norwegian Conference on Social Psychology & Community Psychology, her current work on identity in the workplace, and what it is like to teach in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at LSE. 

November 2019

Dr Ilka Gleibs. Photo by Nigel Stead, LSE

You were recently at the 20th Norwegian Conference on Social Psychology and Community Psychology, can you tell us more about why you were there?

I was invited to present in a symposium at the 20th Norwegian Conference which was held in at the University of Tromsø, which is the most Northern University in the world. I presented some work that I conducted with Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington and an MSc student Sophie Brinkmann. I presented work in which we aimed to understand how lower social economics status influences cognitive performance. In particular, we were interested in understanding whether making bias in cognitive testing explicit as having been corrected (hence in the past) or being ongoing (hence in the future) would have consequences for cognitive performance. Unfortunately, our results did not yield conclusive results, which could be due difficulties in replicating previous work on stereotype threat or in using a relatively invariant measure of cognitive performance. 

What are you currently working on?

I have two main projects at the moment. One is on religious identities in the workplace; we published a systematic literature review scoping the literature and are now in the process of analysing qualitative and collecting quantitative data on the topic (read the paper here.. My second larger project is in collaboration with Neela Muehlemann and we work with the London Fire Brigade to examine how team/group dynamics influence stress and well-being.

What do you like most about teaching in the department?

I most like the interaction with people from all over the world, who bring their own experiences and ideas that help to rethink theories and practises that we teach.  

(In) Focus series in full

PBS Research Officer, Dr Natalia Concha

November 2019 

Dr Natalia Concha is a Research Officer working on the UKRI-Colciencias Newton grant “Pathways to Reconciliation”

You are working on the Pathways to Reconciliation project, can you tell us about that? 

The Pathways project comprises a UK-Colombian partnership, with a team of academics, researchers, professionals, NGO activists and practitioners from Fundación para la Reconciliación, Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá in Colombia and us (PBS at LSE). The project is rich and challenging because we are reaching out to communities in remote Colombian territories, which were often the battleground of the internal armed conflict that battered the country for decades. In terms of the research, we adopt a socio-cultural approach to human development under contextual adversity, where we are directly exploring experiences, meanings and narratives of young people and adults from five rural municipalities across the country. The project is centred on looking at the impact of the Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ES.PE.RE), a third-sector programme run by our NGO partners, on the psychological and social wellbeing of people living in these communities. We focus on mental health, social capital and lifetracks through a mixed method longitudinal design.

The project involves a lot of fieldwork and travel to Colombia, what do you enjoy about carrying out research abroad?

To me, carrying out research in Colombia is both a heartening and much needed experience, as it brings you out of the ‘WEIRD’ (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) bubble. By working in the global south, I get confronted with the palpable realities of how context shapes life trajectories, keeping me grounded on the contradictions and difficulties that so many people face on a daily basis to overcome adversity. On a personal dimension, it enables me to explore and encounter my country differently, visiting remote territories that I had only heard about, where I get to witness first-hand their exuberant environment and life.

What is your favourite place in London to visit?

I don’t have a favourite place per se, London is vast so I feel I would need to take it borough-by-borough but when I am walking around the city itself, say from Monument towards the Tower Hill area, there is a delightful little ruined medieval church almost submerged in the greyness of modern buildings that is St Dunstan’s in the East. It carries the city’s history, having been damaged by the great fire and centuries later by the Blitz; yet today it stands adorned by the vines and foliage that embrace its leftover walls, offering a bench of tranquillity in its secluded garden, a place away from the frenetic urban energy to simply be. 

The Pathways to Reconciliation project is currently underway with fieldwork in different locations in Colombia. To keep up to date with the research follow Pathways to Reconciliation on Twitter and visit the Pathways website.


Dr Sandra Obradovic, LSE Fellow & Amena Amer, PhD student


October 2019


Dr Sandra Obradovic & Amena Amer present their misrecognition framework


Dr Sandra Obradovic, LSE Fellow & Amena Amer, PhD student talk to us about their 'misrecognition' framework and their tips for anyone thinking about doing a PhD.

You recently presented work on a misrecognition framework. Can you tell us more about it?

Identity recognition (or lack thereof) plays an important role in our experiences of belonging and exclusion, equality and inequality, and cohesion and polarisation within our social contexts. Social psychology however has failed to explicitly incorporate recognition into a theoretical framework which ensures our acknowledgement of its importance in understanding identity and intergroup processes. 

How is this related to the work you currently do?

Amena: My PhD (‘Being a White British Muslim: Experiences of identity (mis/non) recognition and strategies of identity performance in response’) draws on two studies that examine the experiences of identity recognition and negotiation of white British Muslims. These studies explore their perceived and actual ethnic and religious recognition by both British Muslims and British non-Muslims.

The first study uses qualitative data to understand the experiences of, and strategic performative responses to, identity (mis/non)recognition.  

The second study uses experimental design to explore the role of identity markers e.g. English or Arabic names, wearing hijab, having a beard, or no marker influence behaviours toward that person.

Sandra: The misrecognition framework links to my interest in how the nature of identities shape perceptions of politics, and the important role of ‘what we think other people think’ in these contexts. In particular, the role of recognition (or lack thereof) has emerged in my work on citizens ambivalence to EU integration in Serbia and the role that more ‘powerful’ others play in creating that ambivalence, and more recently, my work on perspective-taking among ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’, and how people turn the opinions of ‘the other side’ into reflections of who they are.
What advice would you give a student thinking of doing a PhD?
Speak to PhD students (especially those in the department in the university they are thinking of applying to because it can be very different across universities/departments) about the process to get a feel for what it's like. To think about who they want their supervisor to be and to speak to them about their idea. Also, I would suggest really thinking about what they want to do before they approach a supervisor. This doesn't need to be a finished PhD proposal, but some specifics are good because it allows you to have a constructive conversation with your potential supervisor.

Dimitris Thomopolous


September 2019

Dimitris_Thomopoulous_200 x 200
Dimitris Thomopolous



Our moments of happiness and fulfillment mostly come from the ‘stuff’ we cannot see, our emotions and our thoughts. Taking time for self-care and investing into our mental health can make these moments even more appreciable, as well as help us find solace during the moments when things might not be going exactly the way we would like them to.

Mental health is often overlooked but is so extremely vital, especially during your studies. Meet Dimitris: Yoga teacher, PBS staff & department alumnus, LSE Mental Health First Aider and all-round healer & calming presence. Dimitris is trained to spot mental health issues and provide first-step support. If you have a problem that you want to discuss, please email Dimitris on so he can find the best way to help.

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, so why not join Dimitris for an ashtanga yoga class right here on LSE campus.

Every Tuesday and Friday, 13:00-14:00, 2nd floor of the SU building, step away and take some time for yourself. Email before your first class for a brief description on what to expect.

Classes are £5 each.