A little research group with big plans (10.08.2021)

We may be a small group, but we definitely have big plans.  These past two days, we held a seminar to kick off the fall, welcome our newest members Annet Ragó (Associate Professor) and Ingebjørg Mai Olaussen (Forskerlinjestudent), and reboot.  Thursday was spent (re)orienting people about what trips our triggers about research, what we are working on now, and what we imagine for ourselves five years down the road.  After a self-published pizza night, we returned the next day to systematize our shared areas of interest, make plans for this semester’s EPIC meetings, and prepare ourselves to talk budget (see the program below for details).

For the 20 minute presentations and 10 minutes of discussion, everyone was tasked with summarizing their work however they liked by touching on: (1) What kinds of research questions are particularly titillating for you?, (2) What kinds of variables, mechanisms or processes are you particularly interested in?, (3) What kinds of things have you worked on (or are you working on now) that support that?, and (4) What kinds of things do you want to work on but haven’t yet, or haven’t for a while and would like to circle back to? Everyone also talked about how they like working with others and what they could imagine collaborating on in the next couple of years.  Finally, everyone looked into their academic crystal ball and took on this task: “Looking 5 years into the future, what would you ideally like to have as a part of your research life then?  Summarize it in one memorable sentence.”

The days were rich, thanks to everyone’s good work sharing what they are passionate about and looking for ways to support each other’s scientific growth and output.

Thursday, September 9th

Research warm-up

9.00-9.15  Tripping our research triggers.  My one-minute answer to: What is it about research that really trips my trigger?

How research is my thing

9.15-9.45 Anett Ragó, Knowledge acquisition

9.45-10.15 Ellen Nierenberg, Learning information literacy

10.15-10.45 Magnus Ingebrigtsen, Learning to learn…?


11.00-11.30 Jon-André Dalbakk, Looking back and looking ahead

11.30-12.00 Rannveig Grøm Sæle, How students learn, thrive and become good citizens


12.45-13.15 Frode Svartdal [Title — Something with procrastination, perhaps?]

13.15-13.45 Ingebjørg M. Olaussen, Succeeding as a student: The role of interest

13.45-14.15 Efim Nemtcan, When studying goes wrong


14.30-15.00 Torstein Låg, Adjusting for publication bias to improve meta-analytic estimates  OR Why I am passionate about research synthesis

15.00-15.30 Tove I. Dahl, Deep and wide with purpose, fuel and guts

15.30-15.45 “Avrunding” and looking ahead to dinner and tomorrow (Tove, 15 min)

18.00 Welcome to Tove’s place to make and enjoy a self-published pizza dinner together.

Friday, September 10th

12.00 Lunch

12.30  EPIC flourishing



PhD candidate Ellen Nierenberg’s first PhD article was published in June! (10.09.2021)

How do you measure information literacy?

Before Ellen could embark on her journey to explore how information literacy skills evolve over the course of a university experience, she had to develop tools to measure it.  In June, two years of hard work finally paid off with the work for the first of two of her tools being published in the Journal of Information Literacy.  This is the first of four planned publications for Ellen’s thesis. Wanting only the best, she worked hard to develop a tool that passed strict standards for validity and reliability.  Now, she has what she needs for the next steps of her research. click on the link above to learn more!


UiT hosted the Creating Knowledge Conference on June 3 and 4, 2021 (17.08.2021)

EPIC members Torstein Låg and Ellen Nierenberg were on the conference organizing team and did a terric job organizing it not just once, but twice. Because of COVID, the original conference scheduled for June 2020 was moved to this June. Though they had looked forward to hosting participants “live” in Tromsø, along with the date change, the conference was changed to be online.  A bonus with that change was to also make it free for everyone who wanted to participate. The result was over 500 participants from around the world! Torstein and Ellen were a part of all the organizing and coordinating behind the scenes for two full years.  Torstein and Mariann Løkse were then the online hosts who guided participants around Tromsø and all the resulting talks and keynotes.  EPIC member Tove I. Dahl was invited to speak on the sendoff topic of “WHAT IF BEING OR BECOMING INFORMATION LITERATE WERE AN ADVENTURE?” — combining several of her research interests into one question/challenge for the audience to take home with them as they reflect on how they inspire students to care about being or becoming responsible, information literate citizens.

It was a demanding but fruitful experience overall. Best of all, it was a wild success, and Torstein and Ellen now have valuable experience to offer the EPIC group for those who might be considering organizing successful conferences in the future.


EPIC affiliate number 1, Isabel Viola Kreis has defended in her thesis and published a new article! (18.07.2021)

Isabel has been working hard on publishing and finishing touches, and it all paid off! December 28th, the thesis was turned in, and on the 13th of April she defended her thesis! You can find the three articles of her thesis below. Happy reading!

Spared performance but increased uncertainty in schizophrenia: Evidence from a probabilistic decision-making task

Overestimation of volatility in schizophrenia and autism? A comparative study using a probabilistic reasoning task

Objective Versus Subjective Effort in Schizophrenia


Anett Ragó from ELTE will be joining our research group on August 1st, 2021! (10.12.2020)

We are delighted that Anett Ragó will be joining our research group this fall. Check her out on our members page.

When we invited Anett to introduce herself to the group, we asked her to tell us why she chose UiT for her next station in life.


Why I chose UiT?

When I realized that I wouldn’t be a fine artist, I decided to study psychology. I was 17 then, and as I always liked puzzles and watching people, this decision seemed to be a perfect carrier choice. I did not want to be a therapist, though. I was interested in research despite the lack of competitive drive in me.

I soon realized that research and publication are pointless without teaching, sharing my thoughts, and getting inspiration from the students. I like motivating people to learn and not being afraid of asking questions. Especially in this extremely competitive research field as cognitive psychology, we must not forget the relevance of discussing ideas and learning from seemingly non-related topics.

I have many former students all around the world, which is a nice feeling. One of my former students invited me to Tromsø to give a talk. I don’t typically fall in love with countries, but Norway got to me immediately. I felt somehow close there: not only because of the environment and the co-educated bathrooms but also because of the university’s cozy and friendly atmosphere.

I have only preconceptions toward Norway and the Norwegians, but I am eager to experience reality. I am also afraid to leave the good old university where I have spent half of my life. Still, I believe in the importance of learning and finding new challenges for development.

I envision a balanced researcher-teacher professional life here at UiT with new colleagues and a friendly research group.


We look forward to seeing you in a few short months, Anett!



The very first publication for forskerlinje student and new Phd candidate Efim Nemtcan is out!

Congratulations Efim and fellow EPIC group authors!



Our research team is also home to excellent educators: Congratulations Elisabeth Norman! (30.11.2020)

We are so proud to announce The University of Bergen’s recognition of EPIC member Elisabeth Norman’s outstanding teaching. Her hard work has been acknowledged through a high-level review, and she has been awarded the distinction of Teacher of Merit.  A lot of work and recognition for long-term commitment to developing both one’s own teaching and the quality of teaching programs in general lies behind this distinction.  Gratulerer Elisabeth!

How fortunate for us that in her Professor II capacity with us, she shares her teaching talents with our students in her PSY- 3027 Affect and cognition course and our research group.

You can read more about Elisabeth’s accomplishment in Khrono (November 30th, 2020)

Elisabeth joins two other EPIC colleagues with this distinction:  Frode Svartdal and Tove I. Dahl, two of the first in the Department of Psychology and one of the very first at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

Epic, indeed!



How are we contributing to Covid research? Through feeling free. (11.11.2020)

When and how do people feel free during times of unprecedented, worldwide social constraint? With the appearance of Covid-19, the dominant response was to limit the spread of the virus through significant mandates that greatly limited people’s movement, professional and personal daily routines, and interactions with others. In the flurry of medical and doomsday-laced research that commenced early on, little attention was paid to how people under these new conditions sought positive psychological outlets, like escape, in their everyday lives.  Therefore, in this study, people from all over the world were invited to tell their stories about recent examples of when they felt free. Responses were collected in the spring of 2020 and will be collected from a new cohort in the spring of 2021. The stories will be analyzed from both philosophical and psychological perspectives that we hope will shed new light on a positive kind of lived experience, even in the time of Covid.

UiT project collaborators:  Tove I. Dahl, Professor in the Department of Psychology (; Ida Solhaug, University Hospital of Northern Norway Pain Clinic and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology (; Jonas Jakobsen, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and First-Year Studies (

P.S. We would love help in reaching more people in our next round of data collection. Contact us if you have interesting channels we can use to recruit adults of all ages from around the globe.



First article in the hopper! (11.02.2020)

Ellen Nierenberg’s first article has been accepted for publication with accolades.  Read more about this great achievement in her blog Becoming a researcher. Gratulerer Ellen!



Our work to find our next new colleague continues (03.09.2020)

This summer the committee that reviews the formal qualifications of the applicants to our new position in Cognitive Psychology was completed. We thank the committee for their thorough work. The next stage of the process has begun. The interview committee has been set, the qualified applicants are being contacted, and they will all soon make their public presentations to the department and have their interviews with the interview committee. We look forward to meeting these new potential colleagues in this next stage of the process. What will the final decision mean for our group’s work and collaborations in the years ahead?  We are anxious to find that out ourselves!



Kent Nordby will be defending his thesis on June 17th (09.06.2020)

10:15 Trial lecture “Research on procrastination: State of the art and possible future directions”

12:15-15:00 The oral defense “Student procrastination: Measurement, reduction and environmental factors

It will be streamed live. Join us here!



We have a pioneer in our group! (15.06.2020)

Efim Nemtcan defended his Forskerlinje project in Cortex today.  He and Linda Johansen are the very first cohort to ever complete the “Research Track” education in our department… and even in psychology here in Norway!

Congratulations to Efim for great work and for a well-presented and thoughtful mini-defense.  Well done – we are EPIC proud!



Connie Villemo Nilsen’s newest publication. Gratulerer! (09.06.2020)


Using snus (Swedish moist snuff) is less harmful than smoking, but health warning labels (HWLs) on snus products do not reflect this relation. There are few studies on the effects of comparative risk information in snus warning labels. The purpose of this experiment is to examine whether risk perceptions differ after exposure to non-comparative vs. comparative risk information in snus warning labels.


A total of 254 Norwegians aged 19–69 were exposed to pictures of snus packages in one of four HWL conditions: non-comparative EU-based (“Snus is damaging to your health”), control (the text “Snus” only), general comparative risk (“Snus is less damaging to your health than smoking”), or percentage comparative risk (“Snus is 90% less damaging to your health than smoking”). Perceptions of risk from snus use and smoking were measured before (pre) and during (post) exposure to the HWL. Changes from pre to post in (1) perceptions of risk from snus use and (2) perceptions of risk differences from snus use versus smoking were tested in repeated measures ANOVAs with current snus and cigarette use as covariates.


Both the perceived risks from snus use and its perceived risk difference to smoking decreased more in the control and the percentage HWL conditions than in the EU-based HWL condition. When comparing the general comparative risk and the EU-based HWL, a similar difference was found for the perceived risk difference, but not for the separate measure of snus risk. Both the snus risk and risk difference perception decreased more for the percentage than for the general relative risk HWL.


The non-comparative EU-based HWL claiming that “Snus is health damaging” maintains a high level of perceived risk from snus use, while no HWL and the suggested comparative HWLs adjust perceptions of risk in the direction of lower harm from snus use. An HWL describing snus as 90% less harmful than smoking was more effective than a general claim.


This is what an EPIC “Yay!” looks like (14.05.20)

We had good reason to celebrate at our research group meeting today. Ellen Nierenberg (upper right) submitted the first of her PhD articles for review to a scientific journal just five minutes before we met!

Tomorrow, Efim Nemtcan (lower right) will submit his final manuscript (and perhaps first article) as a part of his work as a pioneer Forskerlinjestudent at IPS. This is one of the last things he will before going over to the two-year PhD position that he was recently awarded to continue his work. Efim is on a roll!

While your here, we recommend reading Ellen’s latest blog on the woes of “Fake News” in the Corona Era“.  It’s a problem.  Just the definition.  Don’t fall into the fake news trap. Be a good academic and take the high road.


Applicants for the new cognitive position are in (14.05.2020)

We are delighted to announce that we garnered a good pool of applicants for the recently advertised cognitive position. A strong committee is now in place to review the applicants and their work.  We look forward to meeting those who make it to the interview round.


Deadline April 30th!

We are looking for a new colleague to join our group! Check out this position in Cognitive Psychology. Deadline for applications is April 30th, so either get your application in soon, or spread the word to other worthy candidates!


March 5th, 2020

We just came back from a four-day writing seminar at Sommarøy, an hour’s drive from Tromsø.  The drive out took us through every possible form of winter —

from this:   to this:  and this:    and finally this:

Once we arrived, we clarified our tasks,  found our rooms,  , and writing nooks to write and write and write, regularly checking in with each other on our progress,  

In between, we were well taken care of by the Sommarøy hotel staff who made sure that we ate well, slept well, and in every other way found what we needed to be comfortable and effective.      We also made sure to spice things up with opportunities to stretch, and a bit of fun to relax and work out those laughing muscles.

We celebrated in the end with a fine meal and headed back to Tromsø the last day with clear writing plans for tomorrow, the remainder of the semester and the year ahead.     


February 28th, 2020

And it’s a wrap! Dr. Connie Villemo Nilsen completed her dissertation Abridged risk information: Effects of warning labels on snus packages (supervisors Frode Svartdal and Oddgeir Friborg) and successfully defended it today. Her thesis was about product warning labels for snus (Swedish smokeless tobacco).

Snus use has increased in Norway, in parallel with decreased smoking rates. Product warning labels inform about risks from using a product, but there are few studies on effects from warnings on snus and smokeless tobacco products. Graphic warnings may be stronger than text-only, but snus warnings in Norway and the European Union are text-only, and recently removed “can” from the warning: “Snus can damage your health and is addictive”. How do Norwegians perceive the common text-only warning, and what about warnings that compare snus and smoking? In two experiments, removing “can” strengthened the risk message a little, but perhaps not enough to have practical implications. The perceived risks from snus dropped a lot more when the warning stated “Snus is 90% less health damaging than smoking”, which is what some experts agree and think should be communicated to smokers. Importantly, intentions to use snus did not increase from seeing the 90% statement, in our mostly non-smoking sample.

Connie’s trial lecture was titled “Utbredelsen av snus i Norge: Hva betyr risikopersepsjon for oppstart, slutting og bytting mellom tobakksprodukter?”. After skillfully delivering it, Connie then defended her work for her official PhD title with intelligence and calm.

It was a great day for everyone in the EPIC group who had been a part of Connie’s journey from Day 1 to this last day of intellectual sparring.  Her opponents did a wonderful job of testing her (Katharina Wolff from UiB and Tord Finne Vedøy from Folkehelseinstituttet), and Connie did a wonderful job of hanging in there with them, too. Her responses to their questions were thoughtful and solid.  All and all, the celebration led by Department Chair Ingunn Skre at the end of the day for family, friends and colleagues was rich and well-deserved. Gratulerer Connie!