Posted September 29, 2020
Tina Sundelin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University. Her research integrates lab-based experimental studies with field-based research to answer questions regarding sleep, social interactions, and wellbeing. She received her PhD from Stockholm University in 2015, focusing on social perceptions of sleep loss. In 2016, she received an International Postdoc Grant from the Swedish Research Council, working with Dr. Tessa West at New York University.
Can you recall a moment, experience or person that influenced you or led you to decide that personality and social psychology was the path for you?
I remember my intro to social psychology class, when the professor pointed out that many of the things we would learn might make us think “well that’s obvious, common sense, everyone knows that”, but that actually almost any finding could be considered obvious in hindsight. I found that really intriguing, and wanted to know more. Then one day in my last year of undergrad, when I had gone on one of my usual rants about all the interesting things I had learned that day, a friend said “You should become a professor, you’re so passionate about this stuff!” It made a lot of sense, but before then, the thought of pursuing a career in Academia had never even occurred to me.
If you weren’t in your current job, what would you be doing?
I would love to be a travel writer. Fortunately, being a researcher lets me both travel and write as well.
Do you have a favorite course to teach and why?
Introductory social psychology. Partly because I get to imbue my students with the same wisdoms that my intro social psych Prof gave me, but also because the students are often new to the whole university setting and the things they learn in that class will (hopefully!) be applied in future studies as well as everyday life.
What are your current research interests?
I am especially interested in how sleep loss affects social interactions; to what extent can we compensate for, or hide, a lack of sleep and what role does motivation play? For all the cognitive abilities that sleep loss impairs, we know surprisingly little about how this manifests in social situations. In a similar vein, I am currently studying sleep in parents with young children, looking at the extent to which sleep imbalance plays a role in relationship satisfaction and wellbeing. In addition, I am interested in how people detect sickness in others and have a few projects focusing on identifying sickness through facial features/expressions and body motion.
Outside of psychology, how do you like to spend your free time?
I like to dance, travel, and play games. Using Taboo as a task for participants was one of the best suggestions I’ve gotten, as it meant we always had it around the lab for social events (and lunch breaks).
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Being angry at someone or something likely affects you more than it affects them. (This includes unreasonable reviewers!)