Torun Lindholm, porträtt.

Torun Lindholm

Professor, stf prefekt

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Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 40 72
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 14
Room 220
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Torun Lindholm is a professor in social psychology, and deputy head of the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University. Her research interests focus on topics in social and cognitive psychology. Among her projects are studies on gender differences in self-presentational strategies; accuracy markers in eyewitness testimony; memory distortions in legal and medical decision-making; decision-making forms and perceived justice; the role of individuals’ in-group/out-group status in perceptions and judgements across different contexts; prejudice and sensitivity to disgust; and childrens’ memory. Lindholm is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Psychology, member of the Swedish National Committee of Psychology, and a member of Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Daniel Conroy-Beam (et al.). Scientific Reports 9

    Humans express a wide array of ideal mate preferences. Around the world, people desire romantic partners who are intelligent, healthy, kind, physically attractive, wealthy, and more. In order for these ideal preferences to guide the choice of actual romantic partners, human mating psychology must possess a means to integrate information across these many preference dimensions into summaries of the overall mate value of their potential mates. Here we explore the computational design of this mate preference integration process using a large sample of n = 14,487 people from 45 countries around the world. We combine this large cross-cultural sample with agent-based models to compare eight hypothesized models of human mating markets. Across cultures, people higher in mate value appear to experience greater power of choice on the mating market in that they set higher ideal standards, better fulfill their preferences in choice, and pair with higher mate value partners. Furthermore, we find that this cross-culturally universal pattern of mate choice is most consistent with a Euclidean model of mate preference integration.

  • 2019. Daniel Conroy-Beam (et al.). Evolution and human behavior 40 (5), 479-491

    Mate choice lies dose to differential reproduction, the engine of evolution. Patterns of mate choice consequently have power to direct the course of evolution. Here we provide evidence suggesting one pattern of human mate choice-the tendency for mates to be similar in overall desirability-caused the evolution of a structure of correlations that we call the d factor. We use agent-based models to demonstrate that assortative mating causes the evolution of a positive manifold of desirability, d, such that an individual who is desirable as a mate along any one dimension tends to be desirable across all other dimensions. Further, we use a large cross-cultural sample with n = 14,478 from 45 countries around the world to show that this d-factor emerges in human samples, is a cross-cultural universal, and is patterned in a way consistent with an evolutionary history of assortative mating. Our results suggest that assortative mating can explain the evolution of a broad structure of human trait covariation.

  • 2019. Charlotte Alm, Nora Helmy Rehnberg, Torun Lindholm. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 16 (3), 201-212

    During forensic interviews, eyewitnesses are to retrieve correct information from memory. Cognitive load should be high, leading to risks of giving in to suggestive questions and difficulties in memory retrieval generally. Testifying in a non-native vs. native language may require even more cognitive effort due to the need to inhibit the interference of the native language. Such witnesses may also be more motivated to appear credible because they often belong to ethnic outgroups relative to forensic professionals, risking more scepticism. In this study, Swedish participants (N = 51) reported their memory of a simulated crime event either in English (non-native language) or in Swedish (native language) and were tested for suggestibility and accuracy. Results showed that English-speaking witnesses yielded to more suggestive questions, perceived themselves as less credible but were equally accurate. Results suggest that testifying in a non-native language is taxing cognitive resources, in turn increasing suggestibility and suboptimal memory search.

  • 2019. Marta Zakrzewska (et al.). Physiology and Behavior 201, 221-227

    Why are certain individuals persistent in opposing immigration? The behavioral immune system framework implies that a psychological mechanism, which adapted to detect and avoid pathogen threats, is also reflected in contemporary social attitudes. Moreover, prejudice towards outgroups might be partially driven by implicit pathogen concerns related to the perceived dissimilarity with these groups' hygiene and food preparation practices. Disgust, a universal core emotion supposedly evolved to avoid pathogen threats, as well as olfaction, both play a pivotal role in evoking disgust. In an online study (N = 800), we investigated whether individual differences in body odor disgust sensitivity (BODS) correlate with negative attitudes towards a fictive refugee group. The data analysis plan and hypotheses were preregistered. Results show that body odor disgust sensitivity is associated with xenophobia: BODS was positively associated with negative attitudes towards the fictive group. This relationship was partially mediated by perceived dissimilarities of the group in terms of hygiene and food preparation. Our finding suggests prejudice might be rooted in sensory mechanisms.

  • 2019. Marco Tullio Liuzza (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 10

    Detecting pathogen threats and avoiding disease is fundamental to human survival. The behavioral immune system (BIS) framework outlines a set of psychological functions that may have evolved for this purpose. Disgust is a core emotion that plays a pivotal role in the BIS, as it activates the behavioral avoidance motives that prevent people from being in contact with pathogens. To date, there has been little agreement on how disgust sensitivity might underlie moral judgments. Here, we investigated moral violations of “purity” (assumed to elicit disgust) and violations of “harm” (assumed to elicit anger). We hypothesized that individual differences in BIS-related traits would be associated with greater disgust (vs. anger) reactivity to, and greater condemnation of Purity (vs. Harm) violations. The study was pre-registered ( Participants (N = 632) rated scenarios concerning moral wrongness or inappropriateness and regarding disgust and anger. To measure individual differences in the activation of the BIS, we used our recently developed Body Odor Disgust Scale (BODS), a BIS-related trait measure that assesses individual differences in feeling disgusted by body odors. In line with our predictions, we found that scores on the BODS relate more strongly to affective reactions to Purity, as compared to Harm, violations. In addition, BODS relates more strongly to Moral condemnation than to perceived Inappropriateness of an action, and to the condemnation of Purity violations as compared to Harm violations. These results suggest that the BIS is involved in moral judgment, although to some extent this role seems to be specific for violations of “moral purity,” a response that might be rooted in disease avoidance. Data and scripts to analyze the data are available on the Open Science Framework (OSF) repository: Planned analyses are available at

  • 2019. Torun Lindholm, Fredrik Jönsson, Marco Tullio Liuzza.

    We investigate whether retrieval effort cues are related to eyewitness accuracy, and the relative role of effort cues and witnesses’ confidence in predicting memory. The results demonstrate that verbal and paraverbal retrieval effort cues are strongly related to witnesses’ accuracy. Moreover, subjective confidence in memory rests on these cues.

  • 2019. Philip Gustafsson, Torun Lindholm, Fredrik U. Jönsson.

    Do sincere eyewitness testimonies contain objective markers of accuracy? We show that expressions of effort in memory retrieval predict eyewitness accuracy. Incorrect memories are recalled with greater effort than correct memories.

  • 2019. Peter Esaiasson (et al.). British Journal of Political Science 49 (1), 291-314

    Procedural fairness theory posits that the way in which authoritative decisions are made strongly impacts people's willingness to accept them. This article challenges this claim by contending that democratic governments can achieve little in terms of acceptance of policy decisions by the procedural means at their disposal. Instead, outcome favorability is the dominant determinant of decision acceptance. The article explicates that while central parts of procedural fairness theory are true, outcome favorability is still overwhelmingly the strongest determinant of individuals' willingness to accept authoritative decisions. It improves on previous research by locating all key variables into one causal model and testing this model using appropriate data. Findings from a large number of experiments (both vignette and field) reproduce the expected relationships from previous research and support the additional predictions.

  • 2019. Marco Tullio Liuzza (et al.).

    In this preregistered study, we investigated how different types of moral violations elicit disgust vs. anger, and the role of disgust sensitivity in responding to moral violations. Our results show that purity violations primarily elicit disgust reactions, and individual differences in body odor disgust sensitivity moderates reactions to purity violations.

  • 2019. Torun Lindholm (et al.).

    We examined how men’s and women’s self-presentational choices influenced perceived suitability for a senior position. We confronted applicants to job interview questions preferred by men or women. Regardless of their gender, applicants received better evaluations when they received questions initially selected by men than questions initially selected by women.

  • 2019. Philip U. Gustafsson, Torun Lindholm, Fredrik U. Jönsson. Frontiers in Psychology 10

    Evaluating eyewitness testimonies has proven a difficult task. Recent research, however, suggests that incorrect memories are more effortful to retrieve than correct memories, and confidence in a memory is based on retrieval effort. We aimed to replicate and extend these findings, adding retrieval latency as a predictor of memory accuracy. Participants watched a film sequence with a staged crime and were interviewed about its content. We then analyzed retrieval effort cues in witness responses. Results showed that incorrect memories included more “effort cues” than correct memories. While correct responses were produced faster than incorrect responses, delays in responses proved a better predictor of accuracy than response latency. Furthermore, participants were more confident in correct than incorrect responses, and the effort cues partially mediated this confidence-accuracy relation. In sum, the results support previous findings of a relationship between memory accuracy and objectively verifiable cues to retrieval effort.

  • 2019. Philip Gustafsson, Torun Lindholm, Fredrik Jönsson. Book of Abstracts, 327-327

    Evaluating eyewitness testimonies has proven a difficult task. We investigated if incorrect memories are more effortful to retrieve than correct memories. Participants watched a simulated crime and were interviewed as eyewitnesses. We then analysed retrieval effort cues in witness responses. Results showed that incorrect memories included more “effort cues” than correct memories, and also partially mediated the relationship between confidence and accuracy.

  • 2019. Gruneau Brulin Joel, Lindholm Torun, Granqvist Pehr.
  • 2018. Torun Lindholm, Fredrik U. Jönsson, Marco Tullio Liuzza. Journal of experimental psychology. Applied 24 (4), 534-542

    Previous research has documented that correct eyewitness memories are more rapidly recalled and recognized than are incorrect ones, suggesting that retrieval ease is diagnostic of memory accuracy. Building on these findings, the current research explores whether verbal and paraverbal cues to retrieval effort could be used to determine the accuracy of honestly reported eyewitness statements about a crime event. Moreover, we examine the relative role of such effort cues and witnesses’ subjective confidence in predicting memory accuracy. The results of 2 studies demonstrate that objectively verifiable verbal and paraverbal cues to retrieval effort are strongly related to honest witnesses’ memory accuracy and that several of these cues contribute uniquely to predict accuracy. Moreover, we show that subjective confidence in a memory rests on these effort cues and that the cues mediate the confidence−accuracy relation. Given research showing that most people have vast difficulties in judging the quality of others’ memories, combined with the scarcity of research on predictors of genuinely reported memories, these initial findings suggest unexplored alternatives that may prove highly useful for improving accuracy judgments, with potentially far-reaching significance not the least in the legal context.

  • 2018. Torun Lindholm, Vincent Yzerbyt.

    Research shows that the two fundamental dimensions of social perception, warmth and competence, are often negatively related in our perceptions of others, the so-called compensation effect. The current experiments investigate people’s use of such compensation when self-presenting strategically to reach a desired goal. In Experiment 1, participants applying for a qualified job emphasized their competence while downplaying their warmth. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants role-playing as crime witnesses similarly attenuated their warmth relative to their competence. In contrast, in Experiment 3, participants in the role of suspects of a severe crime chose to downplay their competence. Results suggest that self-presenters are sensitive to warmth-competence dynamics in social perception as a means to promote the optimal self-image given their specific goals.

  • 2018. Sebastian Cancino-Montecinos, Fredrik Björklund, Torun Lindholm. PLoS ONE 13 (12)

    The aim of this study was to clarify how positive and negative emotions are related to the common attitude-change effect in cognitive dissonance research. Drawing on appraisal theories of emotion, and emotion-regulation research, we predicted that negative emotions would be inversely related to attitude change, whereas positive emotions would be positively related to attitude change in the induced compliance paradigm. In two studies, participants (N = 44; N = 106) wrote a counter-attitudinal essay under the perception of high choice, and were later asked to state their emotions in relation to writing this essay, as well as to state their attitude. Results confirmed the predictions, even when controlling for baseline emotions. These findings untangled a previously unresolved issue in dissonance research, which in turn shows how important emotion theories are for the understanding of cognitive dissonance processes.

  • 2018. Sebastian Cancino-Montecinos, Fredrik Björklund, Torun Lindholm. European Journal of Social Psychology 48 (1), 100-107

    This study investigated the effects of cognitive conflict on abstract thinking. According to action-identification theory, an ambiguous and unfamiliar situation might propel an individual to a more abstract mindset. Based on this premise, cognitive conflict was hypothesized to put people in an abstract mindset. The induced compliance paradigm, in which participants are asked to write a counter-attitudinal essay under either low choice (producing little dissonance) or high choice (producing more dissonance), was employed. Results showed that an abstract mindset was in fact activated in the induced compliance paradigm, and this effect was more pronounced for participants having a more concrete mindset to begin with. The results suggest that the experience of cognitive conflict is closely related to increased abstraction.

  • 2018. Marco Tullio Liuzza (et al.). Royal Society Open Science 5 (2)

    Authoritarianism has resurfaced as a research topic in political psychology, as it appears relevant to explain current political trends. Authoritarian attitudes have been consistently linked to feelings of disgust, an emotion that is thought to have evolved to protect the organism from contamination. We hypothesized that body odour disgust sensitivity (BODS) might be associated with authoritarianism, as chemo-signalling is a primitive system for regulating interpersonal contact and disease avoidance, which are key features also in authoritarianism. We used well-validated scales for measuring BODS, authoritarianism and related constructs. Across two studies, we found that BODS is positively related to authoritarianism. In a third study, we showed a positive association between BODS scores and support for Donald Trump, who, at the time of data collection, was a presidential candidate with an agenda described as resonating with authoritarian attitudes. Authoritarianism fully explained the positive association between BODS and support for Donald Trump. Our findings highlight body odour disgust as a new and promising domain in political psychology research. Authoritarianism and BODS might be part of the same disease avoidance framework, and our results contribute to the growing evidence that contemporary social attitudes might be rooted in basic sensory functions.

Show all publications by Torun Lindholm at Stockholm University

Last updated: December 5, 2019

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