Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, PhD

Senior lecturer in psychology, director of Prejudice Lab at Goldsmiths University

Summary of research

Psychology of intergroup relations; intergroup conflict, political violence and prejudice; collective narcissism; embodiment of prejudice

Research interests

In my research I have developed a specialized research agenda driven by a question: What makes people prejudiced and what makes them fight in conflicts. I have developed the concept of collective narcissism – exaggerated emotional investment in an in-group – that predicts intergroup hostility, prejudice, unforgiveness, political radicalisation and belief in conspiracy theories. I also examine how prejudice towards essentialised out-groups is embodied. In particular, in recent projects I look at effects of smell on prejudice and the link between physical contacts with out-group members and need for physical cleansing. I have also examined the cognitive and motivational underpinnings of political beliefs related to intergroup conflict and prejudice (e.g. political conservatism, nationalism and patriotism, religious orientations). I examined how such ideological orientations interact with the complexity of political reasoning; motivated closed-mindedness (e.g. need for cognitive closure), and death anxiety in inspiring intergroup hostility.

Areas of supervision

My research interests and expertise lie in the areas of social and political psychology. I am particularly interested in predictors of political radicalisation, violence and prejudice. I am interested in collective and individual narcissism and their social consequences. I am also interested in how prejudice is embodied. For example – why do we use a metaphor of cleansing when we mean exterminating others (e.g. ´ethnic cleansing´). I also research the role of olfaction (smell) in intergroup relations. I have examined how intergroup attitudes are shaped by the interaction of ideological orientations – such as political conservatism, nationalism or religious fundamentalism – and epistemic motivations (need for cognitive closure, death anxiety, uncertainty avoidance). I will welcome students interested in research in any of those areas.


Phone:+44 (0)20 7078 5074

PhD candidates

Karolina Dyduch-Hazar

Karolina completed her MA in Psychology in 2016 at University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. She is currently a PhD candidate at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, under the supervision of dr. Golec de Zavala. Her research interests are concentrated in the field of social psychology, particularly individual and collective narcissism and intergroup processes.  In her research Karolina focuses on the role of beliefs in hedonistic function of revenge in the relationship between collective narcissism and intergroup aggression.


Dorottya Lantos

Dorottya completed her BSc in Psychology in 2015 at Goldsmiths, University of London, with First Class Honours. She first started working together with dr. Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, founder of the Prejudice Lab, here during her undergraduate studies. She completed her MSc in Research Methods in Psychology at UCL in 2016, where her dissertation focused on the topic of dehumanization. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program at the Psychology Department of Goldsmiths, University of London, under the supervision of Dr. Golec de Zavala. Dorottya’s main research interest lie primarily in the field of social psychology, including topics such as dehumanization, collective narcissism, and intergroup processes, but she is also involved in research relating to positive psychology.


Master students

Elena Artamonova

Elena completed BA in Anthropology, BSc in Psychology, MA in Political Science, MSc in Psychology of Social relations at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests concentrate on social psychology, specifically collective narcissism and leadership. She has recently submitted work on collective narcissism and support for protective leaders: does intergroup threat matters? Results only partially confirmed the hypothesis that the relationship between collective narcissism and support for Putin’s leadership strengthened in the presence of perceived threat what suggests that there is an underlying factor that would need to be investigated in the future studies.


Jean-Noel George

Jean-Noel graduated from Goldsmiths, University of Lonon with a BSc in Psychology. He is particularly interested in implicit cognition and its influence on behaviour, specifically those behind interpersonal and inter-group interactions. He is currently working on how perceived racial threat modulates the accuracy of collision judgments for looming faces (similar to what a car would look like when directly approaching you). He found that Black faces were judged as colliding sooner than White faces.