Charlotte Vrijen

Charlotte Vrijen

Assistant Professor

University of Groningen

Charlotte Vrijen is an assistant professor at the University of Groningen. Her main research interest is positive bias, i.e., the phenomenon that many people view the world more positively and brightly than it really is. Positive bias may protect us from developing mental health problems.

Charlotte’s current research focuses on investigating when and how individual differences in positive bias arise, and what role genetic vulnerabilities and parenting play. In 2022, she started her Veni project ‘The bright side of life - An intergenerational study into the origins of optimism’.

Charlotte is passionate about improving scientific practice. She is a member of the board of the Open Science Community Groningen. Examples of open science practices in her work are pre-registrations, sharing syntax and data, and publishing open access.

Download her CV.


  • Positive bias
  • Optimism
  • Mental health
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Social experiences
  • Developmental psychology


  • PhD in psychiatry, 2019

    University of Groningen

  • PhD in philosophy, 2007

    University of Groningen

  • Master in philosophy, 2001

    University of Groningen

Work experience


Assistant Professor

University of Groningen

Aug 2022 – Present The Netherlands
I recently started my Veni project ‘The bright side of life - An intergenerational study into the origins of optimism’ at the research unit Developmental Psychology at the University of Groningen.

Postdoctoral researcher

University of Groningen

Aug 2018 – Jul 2022 The Netherlands
My postdoc was part of a larger project on intergenerational transmission of social experiences. I coordinated the genetic part of the larger project, created polygenic risk scores, wrote a meta-analysis on outcomes of bullying perpetration for the perpetrators, and supervised a PhD student, bachelor students, master students, and interns.

PhD in psychiatry

University Medical Center Groningen

Dec 2013 – Aug 2018 The Netherlands
My second PhD was part of the ‘No fun no glory project’, a biopsychosocial investigation of loss of pleasure in young adults. This project involved an exploratory intervention study of lifestyle advice based on momentary assessments and a tandem skydive, preceded by a screening questionnaire among almost 3000 young people.

Researcher/policy maker

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Sep 2005 – Dec 2013 The Hague

PhD in philosophy

University of Groningen

Sep 2001 – Aug 2005 The Netherlands
My PhD in philosophy was part of the project ‘The Critique of Language in the Philosophy of the Later Middle Ages, Renaissance and the Twentieth Century. Patterns of Conceptual Similarity in Philosophical Argument.’ I wrote my dissertation on the published an unpublished writings of the Twentieth century Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle.


Statistical analysis

Multilevel meta-analysis, multilevel regression analysis, longitudinal data analysis, network analysis of ecological momentary assessments. Experience with R, Mplus, SPSS, Python (very basic)

Data collection

I currently collect data with surveys, momentary assessment tools, and behavioural tasks. I also have experience with biomarker collection and lifestyle interventions.

Genetics in social science

I use polygenic scores (indexes of genetic predisposition to specific phenotypes) to study intergenerational transmission.

Open science and ethics

From 2020-2022 I was a member of my department’s Ethics Committee and I am currently board member of the Open Science Community Groningen. Examples of open science practices in my work are pre-registrations, sharing syntax and data, and publishing open access.


I supervised a PhD student working on parent-child transmission of peer problems, and have supervised bachelor and master theses, as well as student interns and assistants. I designed a third-year bachelor course on how to perform a systematic literature review and I currently teach part of a master course on analyzing individual development.


Reviewer (on occasional basis) for the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, Frontiers in Psychology, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and Psychology Research and Behavior Management.


Veni grant

Received a Veni grant (280,000 EUR) for my project ‘The bright side of life - An intergenerational study into the origins of optimism’

Russell Sage Social Genomics Summer Institute

Selected for the fully funded prestigious Russell Sage Social Genomics Summer Institute, taking place in Vermont from 8-20 August 2021 (funding included all travel and accommodation expenses)

Travel award

Travel award (300 USD) to attend the biennial SRCD conference from 2019-03-21 until 2019-03-23 in Baltimore (USA)

Outstanding poster presentation award

Outstanding poster presentation award (150 USD) for my poster presentation ‘Measuring BDNF in saliva: not yet possible with commercial ELISA kits’ at the international 4th biennial conference of the Society for Ambulatory Assessment.



Recent Publications

Quickly discover relevant content by filtering publications.
(2023). Gene-Environment Interplay in the Development of Overweight. Journal of Adolescent Health.

PDF Project DOI

(2022). Bullying perpetration and social status in the peer group: A meta-analysis. Journal of Adolescence.

PDF Project DOI

(2022). Gene–environment interplay in externalizing behavior from childhood through adulthood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

PDF Project DOI

(2022). Intergenerational transmission of peer aggression. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

PDF Project DOI

(2022). Cohort Profile Update: The TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey-The Next Generation (TRAILS NEXT). International Journal of Epidemiology.

PDF Project DOI


  • 31 503635640
  • Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, Groningen, 9712 TS
  • Enter the Heymans building and take the stairs to Office H312 on the 3d floor
  • Monday-Friday 9:00 to 17:30
  • DM Me