Rianne Kok awarded ERC Starting Grant for study on lying

Wetenschapper Rianne Kok

Researcher in Clinical Child and Family Studies Dr Rianne Kok of Erasmus University Rotterdam has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant worth €1.5 million for her research project on lying in child-rearing and its effect on children’s development. The Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) has a great track record in submitting successful ERC grant applications. Dr Rianne Kok is the first person at the Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies to be awarded an ERC grant.

Kok’s study focuses on the various types of lies told to children and which research methods are best suited to gaining a proper understanding of lies and their consequences. In addition, the project is the first of its kind to focus on a paradox in child-rearing: some parents teach their children not to lie, but do lie to their own children themselves. The question Dr Kok seeks to answer is what this inconsistency does to parents and children. What is unique about the project is the focus on ‘lying out of self-interest’ and ‘lying for the other person’s sake’. In other words, the study focuses on egoistic lies versus social lies, as well as their consequences (both positive and negative) on children’s development. The (often contradictory) parenting advice on lying to children that can be found on the Internet and elsewhere generally lack a proper evidence base. Rianne Kok’s study will contribute to such an evidence base.

Innovative and relevant

The European Research Council (ERC)’s jury was full of praise for the study proposal. “The proposal is highly innovative and relevant. The proposed projects will deploy, in an original manner, several research methods that will go a long way towards helping us understand this subject, which has so far attracted little attention from scientists. The interdisciplinary approach, which will include insights from Clinical Child and Family Studies, clinical psychology and cognitive psychology, will allow Rianne Kok to generate new insights into this societally relevant subject.”  

“Rianne’s ERC grant is high-level recognition of her creative and innovative research on the controversial subject that is ‘lying’,” said Prof. Semiha Denktas, ESSB’s director of research. “We are exceptionally proud of her.”

Rianne Kok will use the grant awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) to set up a five-year research project involving one postdoc, two PhD students and several teaching assistants.

About the ERC Starting Grants 

The European Union established its ERC Starting Grants to support talented heads of research teams who are about to establish their own independent research teams.

The Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) has a great track record in submitting successful ERC grant applications. Dr Rianne Kok is the first ESSB-affiliated researcher in Clinical Child and Family Studies to be awarded a starting grant, but previous recipients include the ESSB-affiliated sociologists Prof. Renske Keizer, Prof. Willem Schinkel and Prof. Maurice Crul. In 2012 the sociologist Prof. Pearl Dykstra was awarded an Advanced Grant.

About Rianne Kok

Dr Rianne Kok, born 1985, is an assistant professor at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB)’s Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies (DPECS). She was awarded a doctorate by Leiden University in 2013 for a dissertation entitled, “Do as I Say! Parenting and the Biology of Child Self-Regulation”. She seeks to answer the question as to how children learn to function in social contexts. She received an Erasmus Fellowship in 2016 and was one of several applicants for a grant for a research project that was part of the Vital Cities and Citizens Erasmus Initiative. 
Dr Kok’s research has been published by prominent academic journals, including the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Child Neuropsychology, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, press officer ESSB, kooistra@essb.eur.nl, + 31 6 83676038

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