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I am currently an MSc Psychological Research student in the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group (SENRG), headed by Professor Robin Dunbar, and the Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict, headed by Professor Miles Hewstone. 

I have completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of St Andrews, where I worked closely with Dr Akira O'Connor, who also supervised my Senior Honours Project investigating the processes contributing to memory retrieval. I moreover enjoyed assisting dementia care fellow Dr Maggie Ellis and primatologist Dr Catherine Hobaiter in their research alongside my studies.

Originally from Germany, I became interested in experiencing life in other countries. An exchange year in the US, my undergraduate degree in Scotland and my current studies in England have allowed me to cherish both new cultures and their traditions as well as my home country and its customs. Observing how frequently relocating shapes one's personal social network as well as how whole communities of temporary members form and develop motivates my research interests.

Maria Kempnich


Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict (Hewstone Lab)

Investigating how social networks adapt to mobile societies
Research Summary

research interests

I am interested in how social networks adapt to mobile societies. Whether moving for educational, professional or personal purposes, relocating domestically or internationally is an almost expected part of life in our globalised world.

A person who moves will thus have to update their pre-existing network, replacing some members but not others. Tracing these changes over time allows examining whether certain relationships are more robust than others and how the overall network composition is affected.

Facing a new environment might also offer opportunities for contact with members of different social groups. If seized, such opportunities can lead to changes in attitude towards these out-groups.

My research focuses on how the personal networks of relocating individuals change and how networks primarily made up of temporary members form.