Dr Leor Zmigrod is a political neuroscientist and psychologist. Her research combines methods from experimental psychology, cognitive science, political science, criminology, and neuroscience to investigate the psychology of ideological extremism and group identity formation. In particular, she investigates cognitive characteristics that might act as vulnerability factors for radicalization and ideologically-motivated behaviour.
She completed her PhD at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. Leor’s doctoral research, funded by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, explored the psychological processes underpinning political, religious, and nationalistic beliefs. She was a Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge between 2019-2022.
Leor was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Science & Healthcare category, and received MHP's 30ToWatch in British Politics Gold Winner Award in the Unifier of the Year Category. She was awarded the ESCAN 2020 Young Investigator Award by the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and the Glushko Dissertation Prize in Cognitive Science by the Cognitive Science Society. Leor recently won the 2020 Women of the Future Science Award and the 2022 Women in Cognitive Science Emerging Leader Award, as well as the 2022 Distinguished Junior Scholar Award in Political Psychology by the American Political Science Association.
For the academic year 2020-2021, Leor held the Gretty Mirdal Junior Chair in ’Brain, Culture and Society’ at the Paris Institute for Advanced Study. She was also the Director of Studies for the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos at Churchill College, Cambridge and for Clare College, Cambridge.
For the academic year 2022-2023, Leor is a Fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study.
Her research has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, TIME, New Scientist, Financial Times, LSE British Politics and Policy, The Times, amongst other international outlets. In 2022 Leor gave a talk at the Hay Festival.
Leor is an Editor for the recently-published Theme Issue in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, titled “The Political Brain: Neurocognitive and Computational Mechanisms Underlying Ideological Behaviour”.
As of 2022, Leor sits on the Editorial Board of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. She has written and spoken to the Royal Society about promoting diversity in science.
She holds a B.A. in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, and has published work on the neuroscience of agency, creativity, and hallucinations. Leor has also conducted research at Stanford University, Harvard University, and University College London. Leor was recently shortlisted for a Student-Led Teaching Award by the University of Cambridge's Student Union.
Leor is passionate about encouraging young people to pursue STEM and recently founded the Cambridge Cognitive Science Research Assistantship Scheme to offer research experience and mentoring to young people (aged 16-21) interested in a scientific approach to the human mind. Between March and August 2020, she mentored over 45 students. The scheme particularly values critical thinking, accessibility, and a passion for learning. No one is too young to fall in love with the scientific research process.
She enjoys public engagement and has presented at TEDx, BBC Radio, and the United Nations. You can contact her about consulting work and public engagement via email (leor dot zmigrod at gmail dot com).
Leor is currently writing a popular science book, The Ideological Brain, on how ideologies coerce human brains and how minds can unchain themselves from toxic dogmas. For updates on publication dates and sneak peeks, sign up to the mailing list here.
1. Zmigrod, L. (2022). A Psychology of Ideology: Unpacking the Psychological Structure of Ideological Thinking. Perspectives on Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/17456916211044140. See paper here and preprint here.
2. Zmigrod, L. (2022). Susceptibility to violent extremism and cognitive rigidity: Registered replication, corroboration and open questions for criminological research and practice. Legal and Criminological Psychology. doi:10.1111/lcrp.12225. See paper here.
3. Zmigrod, L., & Robbins, T.W. (2022). Dopamine, Cognitive Flexibility and IQ: Epistatic COMT:DRD2 Gene-Gene Interactions Modulate Mental Rigidity. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01784. See paper here and preprint here.
4. Zmigrod, L. (2022). Mental Computations of Ideological Choice and Conviction: The Utility of Integrating Psycho-Economics and Bayesian Models of Belief. Psychological Inquiry. 33:2, 107-116. See paper here or here, and preprint here.
5. Ramakrishnan, S., Robbins, T. W., & Zmigrod, L. (2022). Cognitive Rigidity, Habitual Tendencies, and Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms: Individual Differences and Compensatory Interactions. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13. See paper here and preprint here.
6. Zmigrod, L., Eisenberg, I. W., Bissett, P., Robbins, T. W., & Poldrack, R.A. (2021). A Data-Driven Analysis of the Cognitive and Perceptual Attributes of Ideological Attitudes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 376: 20200424. See paper here and preprint here.
7. Zmigrod, L. & Goldenberg, A. (2021). Cognition and Emotion in Extreme Political Action: Individual Differences and Dynamic Interactions. Current Directions in Psychological Science. See paper here and preprint here.
8. Zmigrod, L. & Tsakiris, M. (2021). Computational and Neurocognitive Approaches to the Political Brain: Key Insights and Future Avenues for Political Neuroscience. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 20200130. See paper here.
10. Zmigrod, L., Ebert, T., Götz, F. M., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2021). The Psychological and Socio-Political Consequences of Infectious Diseases: Authoritarianism, Governance, and Nonzoonotic (Human-to-Human) Infection Transmission. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 9(2), 456-474. See paper here and preprint here.
11. Zmigrod, L. (under review). Individual-Level Cognitive and Personality Predictors of Ideological Worldviews: The Psychological Profiles of Political, Nationalistic, Dogmatic, Religious, and Extreme Believers. doi:10.31234/osf.io/srgup. See preprint here
12. Zmigrod, L. (in press). Ideological Mind-Shaping or Brain-Shaping: Fusing Empirical Biopolitics and Political Philosophy of Mind. Journal of Philosophy of Emotion. See preprint here.
13. Gaffney, D., & Zmigrod, L. (in press). Historicising creativity: an interdisciplinary perspective between the social and natural sciences.
14. Ramakrishnan, S., Robbins, T.W., & Zmigrod, L. (2021). The Habitual Tendencies Questionnaire: A Tool for Psychometric Individual Differences Research. Personality and Mental Health. See paper here.
15. Zmigrod, L. (2020). The Role of Cognitive Rigidity in Political Ideologies: Theory, Evidence, and Future Directions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 34, 34-39. See paper here.
16. Zmigrod, L., Rentfrow, P.J., & Robbins, T.W. (2020). The Partisan Mind: Is Extreme Political Partisanship Related to Cognitive Inflexibility? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 149(3), 407-418. See paper here and preprint here.
17. Rollwage, M., Zmigrod, L., De-Wit, L., Dolan, R.J., & Fleming, S.M. (2019). What Underlies Political Polarization? A Manifesto for Computational Political Psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. See paper here.
18. Zmigrod, L., Rentfrow, P.J., & Robbins, T.W. (2019). Cognitive Inflexibility Predicts Extremist Attitudes. Frontiers in Psychology (Special Issue: Neural Perspectives on the Moral Psychology of Violent Conflict). 10, 989. See paper here.
19. Zmigrod, L., Zmigrod, S., Rentfrow, P. J., & Robbins, T. W. (2019). The Psychological Roots of Intellectual Humility: The Role of Intelligence and Cognitive Flexibility. Personality and Individual Differences, 141, 200-208. See paper here.
20. Zmigrod, L. (2019). Cognition and religiosity: Who is most likely to believe? Quarterly Journal of the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (British Psychological Society), 111, 22-24. See paper here.
21. Ebert, T., Gotz, F. M., Obschonka, M., Zmigrod, L., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2019). Regional Variation in Courage and Entrepreneurship: The Contrasting Role of Courage for the Emergence and Survival of Start‐Ups in the US. Journal of Personality. See paper here.
22. Zmigrod, L., Rentfrow, P.J., & Robbins, T.W. (2018). Cognitive underpinnings of nationalistic ideology in the context of Brexit. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201708960. See paper here.
23. Zmigrod, L., Rentfrow, P. J., Zmigrod, S., & Robbins, T. W. (2018). Cognitive flexibility and religious disbelief. Psychological Research, 1-11. See paper here.
24. Zmigrod, S., Zmigrod, L., & Hommel, B. (2018). The relevance of the irrelevant: Attentional distractor-response binding predicts performance in the Remote Associates Task. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. See paper here.
25. Khalighinejad, N., Schurger, A., Desantis, A., Zmigrod, L., & Haggard, P. (2018). Precursor processes of human self-initiated action. NeuroImage, 165, 35-47. See paper here.
26. Zmigrod, L., Garrison, J. R., Carr, J., & Simons, J. S. (2016). The neural mechanisms of hallucinations: A quantitative meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 69, 113-123. See paper here.
27. Zmigrod, L. & Zmigrod, S. (2016). On the Temporal Precision of Thought: Individual Differences in the Multisensory Temporal Binding Window Predict Performance on Verbal and Nonverbal Problem Solving Tasks. Multisensory Research, 29(8), 679-701. See paper here.
28. Zmigrod, S., Zmigrod, L., & Hommel, B. (2016). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affects stimulus conflict but not response conflict. Neuroscience, 322, 320-325. See paper here.
29. Zmigrod, S. & Zmigrod, L. (2015). Zapping the gap: Reducing the multisensory temporal binding window by means of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Consciousness and Cognition, 35, 143-149. See paper here.
30. Zmigrod, S., Zmigrod, L., & Hommel, B. (2015). Zooming into creativity: Individual differences in attentional global-local biases are linked to creative thinking. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:1647. See paper here.
leor dot zmigrod at gmail dot com