Anneke Sools is Assistant Professor at the department of Psychology, Health and Technology at the University of Twente (Enschede, The Netherlands). She is also Program Director of the Storylab (research group with expertise in narrative psychology, health, and technology connected to the University of Twente). Sools is the recipient of the 2018 Early Career Award from AERA (American Educational Research Association) Narrative SIG (Special Interest Group).
Her PhD dissertation at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht concerned narrative research methodology in the context of health promotion. She received a MSc Degree in Psychology of Culture and Religion from the University of Nijmegen. Her MSc thesis was awarded the Professor Halkes Thesis Award in 2001. For some years she has been a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Narrative Research (University of East London) and a member of the science committee of the international conference Narrative Matters. In 2010 she founded the Network for Narrative Research Netherlands together with Floor Basten from Campus Orléon.
Sools' experience in leading interdisciplinary projects at the crossroads between computational linguistics and the social sciences includes research on Digital patient stories (75k with the Rathenau Institute), Machine-based Mapping of Innovation Journeys (75k with colleagues from Databases and Innovation Management), What Works When for Whom (500k funded by NWO-eScience).
For her current research on how people construct hopeful, possibility-rich futures in situations where possibilities are under pressure (e.g. chronic illness, precarious employment, and early closure of developmental potential among prevocational youth) she collaborates with researchers, professionals and artists in the Netherlands, Greece, the UK, Finland and Israel.
Human imagination has traditionally attracted interest from psychologists, philosophers and art scholars. Although gradually more attention has been paid to how people use the imagination to shape their own lives more creatively, science struggles with finding methodology for good empirical research into this topic. A central problem is that creativity presupposes a form of uniqueness. The current empirical methods, however, focus on discovering patterns of commonalities, not on identifying human uniqueness.
Narrative psychology focuses precisely on how people give meaning to their lives via stories in unique ways. However, as Sools argued, narrative psychology has largely focused on how people give meaning to past difficulties. Therefore, she developed an approach that makes it possible to investigate how people via stories construct new possibilities for their future lives. In doing so, she is embarking on new grounds, because this leaves behind the use of stories as a mere knowledge tool: telling what might, should or could happen sets in motion a meaning-giving process that invites people to change. For the way in which Sools deals with this tension between induced future imagination as research method and intervention method, she received the AREA Early Career Award.
Over the past few years, Sools researched the potential of future stories in different contexts where a promising future is under pressure (unemployment, chronic illness, reintegration of ex-delinquents, political turmoil). She is now working on a new challenge, namely how computerized and interpretative approaches can be combined in research into the development of (future) imagination that strengthens the unique power of people. In an ever-changing knowledge society, where creativity is seen as an engine for innovation, this research can make a difference.
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- Advanced Research Methods for Psychology, Health and Technology (Msc)
- Supervision of Master theses
- Supervision of Bachelor theses
- Coordination of Msc thesis master track PHT
- Coordination of Bsc thesis PHT
Affiliated Study Programmes
What Works When for Whom
Mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, are among the leading causes of the global burden of disease. E-mental health (EMH) interventions, i.e., web-based psychotherapy treatments, are increasingly used to improve access to psychotherapy for a wider audience. Whereas different EMH interventions tend to be equally effective, the responsiveness to a specific treatment shows large individual differences. Therefore, the personalization of treatments is seen as the major road for improvement. Because most EMH interventions use language for communication between counselors and clients, assessing language use provides an important avenue for opening the black box of what happens within therapy. Moreover, EMH makes data of the linguistic interactions between client and counselor available on an unprecedented large scale. The objective of this interdisciplinary proposal is to use e-science methods and tools, in particular natural language processing, visualization and multivariate analysis methods, to analyze patterns in therapy-related textual features in e-mail correspondence between counselor and client. By connecting patterns of known change indicators to therapy outcome, the question What Works When for Whom? can be answered, which will greatly improve the effectiveness of EMH. The core of the project concerns the development of integrated, modular software for the Dutch language, using data from six EMH-interventions with a total of 10.000 e-mails. These data are sufficiently large and varied to allow for computer-based modelling, and testing of use cases with varying complexity. At the end of the project, the step toward English language software will be made to increase the impact of the project.
Funding Agency: NWO/eScience
Principle Investigator: Anneke Sools
PhD-candidate: Wouter Smink
Postdoc Researcher: Erik Tjong Kim Sang
Project duration: 2016-2020
Narratives of bodily difference research project
The research project Narratives of bodily difference, funded by the Academy of Finland, aims at illuminating the challenges entailed by bodily difference from the perspective of those, who are different. Its starting point is a model of narrative circulation, according to which a person constructs in their mind an "inner narrative" of their life, taking into account the confines of their life situation and deploying model stories available in the cultural stock of stories. Moreover, a person attempts to enact thier inner narratives as "lived narrative" and shares parts of their stories with other people. Bodily difference hampers the narrative circulation in several ways. The constraints inherent in a certain form of difference in a certain social situations restrict the visions of what kind of life is possible, and the cultural stock of stories offers a limited array of story models for those with bodily differences. In addition, the experiences of being different are often difficult to narrate, and the "normal" audience is often reluctant to listen.
The project tries to identify the points in which the narrative circulation is hindered or constrained. At the first phase, it uses the life story data collected by Kynnys ry (Being disabled in Finland 2014), as well as philosophical texts on suffering and difference. Later on new data will be collected by interviews, focus group discussions and by narrative futuring workshops.
Funding Agency: Akademy of Finland
Principle Investigator: Vilma Hänninen
Postdoctoral researchers: Elisa Aaltola, Merja Tarvainen, and Hanna Pohjoja.