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Four Tilburg researchers receive NWO Open Competition SSH XS funding

Published: 06th July 2023 Last updated: 06th July 2023

The awards of round 4 of the Open Competition SSH XS pilot programme are a fact. Four researchers of Tilburg University will start with a promising idea or an innovative and high-risk initiative. There is plenty of room for experimentation and innovation. We congratulate Alexandra Hering, Christine Liebrecht, Kevin van Schie and Inge Timmers with this grant.

Four researchers from two different schools receive a grant of a maximum of €50,000 each, with the following proposals:


  • In the project of Dr. Alexandra Hering, a new Virtual Reality environment called Virtual Day is being developed that stimulates real life with different daily goals to perform. Furthermore, Virtual Day will be used in an interventen study to improve prospective memory of older adults.

  • Dr. Kevin van Schie will test whether using a novel non-invasive brain stimulation technique – that stimulates brain areas crucially involved in thought suppression – will help individuals regain control over their unwanted thoughts and thereby their emotion regulation.
  • Dr. Inge Timmers speculates that stress-is-enhancing mindsets will be associated with a more positive experience when undergoing acute experimental pain, and that altering stress-mindsets by means of short digital interventions will in turn alter how people experience pain.


  • Dr. Christine Liebrecht will test a newly developed tool that aims to stimulate young voters to inform themselves about politics and hence going to the ballots. This tool consists of a digital influencer (a life-like embodied conversational agent of a known person) with whom young voters can discuss political topics within a voting advice application.

About the SSH Open Competition XS Pilot

The SSH Open Competition XS pilot is explicitly about curiosity-driven, cutting-edge research and the ability to rapidly analyze a promising idea. The proposed research should be groundbreaking and it should not be certain in advance whether the intended objective will be achieved. The aim is for each project to contribute to existing and new scientific insights.