Dr Rebecca Koomen

Portrait photo of Rebecca Koomen
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Hailing originally from a small town in upstate New York, I am a citizen of the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. I completed a BSc in psychology and zoology at the University of Toronto, Canada. I then pursued conservation work with children in Tanzania, working the TZ branch of the Jane Goodall Foundation's Roots & Shoots programme. Following this, I completed a MSc in comparative & evolutionary psychology from the University of St Andrews, UK. I then earned a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's comparative & developmental psychology department in Leipzig, Germany, followed by a postdoc in the same lab. Following this postdoc, I worked as a senior behavioural scientist at The Behaviouralist, a London-based behavioural science firm, where I specialised in testing applied behavioural solutions for reducing impact from resource use behaviours. I then returned to academic research at the University of Dundee as a Lecturer in the psychology department.


I am an evolutionary and comparative psychologist researching social dilemmas and delay of gratification, with particular focus on common-pool resource (CPR) dilemmas. I study CPR and other social dilemmas experimentally from comparative, developmental, and cross-cultural methodological perspectives. I am also interested in applied methods for redesigning policy and social group characteristics to reduce resource use or increase sustainable behaviours in the real world.

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Media availability

I am available for media commentary on my research.

Dr Koomen’s research focuses on the evolutionary, developmental, and cultural roots of our social cognitive abilities to sustain resources collectively. She also has experience conducting applied environmental behaviour change research and has consulted on sustainability and behaviour programmes for private and public enterprises.

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Areas of expertise

  • Climate change
  • Environment
  • Psychology