Social Psychology Network

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Robert A. C. Ruiter

Robert A. C. Ruiter

I received my Masters degree in health sciences and my PhD degree in experimental psychology. My research is best situated in the field of applied social psychology and basically studies psychological and behavioural reactions to health education messages. More recently my research interest has shifted from predicting attitude and behavior change to processes of attention allocation and comprehension, two basic prerequisites for effective persuasion. In my research I use self-report measures as well as methods from the cognitive neurosciences including EEG/ERP and fMRI. Other projects I am involved in include experimental studies on the role of basic cognitive functions (work memory, response inhibition, attention) in the explanation and changing of health and safety behavior, and developing and testing behavior change programmes in the areas of blood donation, cancer prevention, safe sex, and traffic safety.

Besides my experimental research work at Maastricht University, I have a strong interest in research capacity building in sub-Saharan Africa. I am continuously involved in PhD projects in Southern and Eastern Africa, mostly related to the prevention of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. These projects have the goal to develop theory- and evidence-based health education materials while training young students to become fully qualified public health researchers.

Primary Interests:

  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Communication, Language
  • Health Psychology
  • Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Journal Articles:

  • Leerlooijer, J.N., Ruiter, R.A.C., Reinders, J., Darwisyah, W., Kok, G., & Bartholomew, K. (2011). The World Starts With Me: using intervention mapping for the systematic adaptation and transfer of school-based sexuality education from Uganda to Indonesia. Translational Behavioral Medicine. Published online 21 April 2011. doi: 10.1007/s13142-011-0041-3
  • Mevissen, F.E.F., Meertens, R.M., Ruiter, R.A.C., & Schaalma, H.P. (2012). Bedtime stories: The Effects of Self-Constructed Risk Scenarios on Imaginability and Perceived Susceptibility to Sexually Transmitted Infections. Psychology and Health, 27, 1036-1047 (IF:1.59). doi:10.1080/08870446.2011.648935
  • Nyembezi, A., Funani, I., Sifunda, S., Ruiter, R. A.C., Van den Borne, B, & Reddy, S. P. (in press). The psychosocial determinants of the intention to reduce the number of sexual partners among recent traditionally initiated and circumcised men in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 665-677. doi: 10.1177/1359105311424469
  • Riet, J. van ’t, Ruiter, R.A.C., & De Vries, H. (2012). Avoidance orientation moderates the effect of threatening messages. Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 14-25. doi 10.1177/1359105311403523
  • Rijsdijk, L.E., Bos, A.E.R., Lie, R., Ruiter, R.A.C., Leerlooijer, J.N., & Kok, G. (2012). Correlates of delayed sexual intercourse and condom use among adolescents in Uganda: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 12:817. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-817
  • Riet, J. van ‘t, Werrij, M.Q., Nieuwkamp, R., Vries, H. de, & Ruiter, R.A.C. (2013). Message frame and self-efficacy influence the persuasiveness of nutrition information in a fast-food restaurant. Food Quality and Preference, 29, 1-5. doi:
  • Riet, J. van ’t, Ruiter, R.A.C., & De Vries, H. (2012). Preaching to the choir? The influence of personal relevance on the effects of gain-and loss-framed health-promoting messages. Journal of Health Psychology 17, 712-723. doi: 10.1177/1359105311421047
  • ten Hoor, G.A., Peters, G.Y., Kalagi, J., de Groot, L., Grootjans, K., Huschens, A., Köhninger, C., Kölgen, L., Pelssers, I., Schütt, T., Thomas, S., Ruiter, R.A.C., & Kok, G. (2012). Reactions to threatening health messages. BMC Public Health, 12:1011. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1011
  • Peters, G. J. Y., Ruiter, R., & Kok, G. (2012). Address physical inactivity, but avoid stressing harms. The Lancet, 380 (9853), 1554. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61874-1.
  • Peters, G.J.Y., Ruiter, R.A.C., Kok, G. (2012). Threatening communication: a critical re-analysis and a revised meta-analytic test of fear appeal theory. Health Psychology Review. doi:
  • Kok, G., Van Essen, G. A., Wicker, S., Llupià, A., Mena, G., Correia, R., & Ruiter, R. A. C. (2012). Planning for influenza vaccination in health care workers: An Intervention Mapping approach. Vaccine, 29, 8512-8519. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.09.008
  • Onoya, D., Reddy, P., Sifunda, S., Lang, D., Wingood, G.M., Borne, B van den, Ruiter, R.A.C. Transactional sexual relationships, sexually transmitted infection risk, and condom use among young black women in peri-urban areas of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Women’s Health Issues, 22-3, e277–e282. doi:10.1016/j.whi.2011.11.006
  • Shilubane, H.N., Ruiter, R.A.C., Bos, A.E.R Borne, B. van den, James, S., & Reddy, P.S. (2012): Psychosocial determinants of suicide attempts among black South African adolescents: A qualitative analysis, Journal of Youth Studies, 15, 177-189. doi: h10.1080/13676261.2011.634400
  • Sifunda, S., Reddy, P., Braithwaite, R.L., Stephens, T., Ruiter, R.A.C., & van den Borne, B. (2012). Psychosocial determinants of risky sexual behaviour amongst South African male prison inmates in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 8, 151 – 162. doi: 10.1108/17449201211285021
  • van Keulen, H. M., Otten, W., Ruiter, R.A.C., Fekkes, M., van Steenbergen, J., Dusseldorp, E., & Paulussen, T. (2013). Determinants of HPV vaccination intentions among Dutch girls and their mothers: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health,13, 111. doi:

Robert A. C. Ruiter
Department of Work and Social Psychology
Applied Social Psychology Group
Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht
The Netherlands

  • Work: +31 43 3882413 /1908
  • Mobile: 31433882413
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