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Associate Professor Jesse Bering

JesseBering

Director

Email jesse.bering@otago.ac.nz
Tel 64 3 471 6147

Jesse Bering is an award-winning science writer specialising in human behaviour. His first book, The Belief Instinct (2011), was included on the American Library Association's Top 25 Books of the Year. This was followed by a collection of his previously published essays, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? (2012), and Perv (2013), a taboo-breaking work that received widespread critical acclaim and was named as a New York Times Editor's Choice. His latest book is Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves and will be released in 2018. All of his books have been translated into many different languages. 

Bering and his work have been featured in numerous documentaries, TV shows, and radio programs, including Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Conan, Chelsea Lately, Q&A (Australia), NPR's "All Things Considered," and the BBC. In addition to writing extensively for Scientific American and Slate magazines, his essays and opinion pieces have also appeared in PlayboyThe New York Times, The Guardian, Discover, Vice, The New Republic, and many others. 

An experimental psychologist by training, Bering's primary research area is the cognitive science of religion and he has published extensively in that field. He began his career at the University of Arkansas as an Assistant Professor of Psychology (2002-2006). He then served as Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at the Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he was Reader in the School of History and Anthropology (2006-2011). Presently, he is the Director of the Centre for Science Communication.

To learn more about Jesse's work, visit www.jessebering.com


Current Teaching


Research Interests


  • Cognitive science and religion
  • Human sexuality
  • Suicidology
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Social psychology and science communication

Potential Postgraduate Projects


  • Communicating controversial scientific topics in conflict with religious ideologies  
  • Development of efficacious science communication practices in prisons
  • Experimental (lab-based) approaches to social psychology and science communication 
  • Evolved psychological functioning applied to biases in science communication 

Current PhD Students


  • Evan Balkcom - The maintenance of unbelief in light of experiences that challenge it 
  • Susan Hamel - The creation and use of e-learning material in science communication
  • Emma Harcourt - The use of scientific language by anti-abortion groups
  • Manon Knapen - How do homeopathy users perceive homeopathy?
  • Bonnie Scarth - Perceptions of suffering, suicide, and physician-assisted suicide
  • Daniel Silva-Luna - Awe in science communication 

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Publications

Bering, J. M., Curtin, E. R., & Jong, J. (2017). Knowledge of deaths in hotel rooms diminishes perceived value and elicits guest aversion. OMEGA. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0030222817709694

Bering, J., Medvecky, F., & Curtin, E. (2016). Scientists behaving badly. Proceedings of the 14th International Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference. (pp. 148). Retrieved from http://pcst-2016.org/

Bering, J. (2015). [Review of the book Fuckology: Critical essays on John Money's diagnostic concepts]. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 41(6), 693-694. doi: 10.1080/0092623x.2015.1064636

Heywood, B., & Bering, J. (2014). “Meant to be”: How religious beliefs and cultural religiosity affect the implicit bias to think teleologically. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 4(3), 183-201. doi: 10.1080/2153599X.2013.782888

Shackelford, T. K., Liddle, J. R., Bering, J., & Shalkoski, G. (2014). Unbidden confession as an evolved pre-emptive strategy against punishment: A preliminary investigation with prisoners. Personality & Individual Differences, 61-62, 86-90. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.01.010

Journal - Research Article

Bering, J. M., Curtin, E. R., & Jong, J. (2017). Knowledge of deaths in hotel rooms diminishes perceived value and elicits guest aversion. OMEGA. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0030222817709694

Heywood, B., & Bering, J. (2014). “Meant to be”: How religious beliefs and cultural religiosity affect the implicit bias to think teleologically. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 4(3), 183-201. doi: 10.1080/2153599X.2013.782888

Shackelford, T. K., Liddle, J. R., Bering, J., & Shalkoski, G. (2014). Unbidden confession as an evolved pre-emptive strategy against punishment: A preliminary investigation with prisoners. Personality & Individual Differences, 61-62, 86-90. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.01.010

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Journal - Professional & Other Non-Research Articles

Bering, J. (2015). [Review of the book Fuckology: Critical essays on John Money's diagnostic concepts]. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 41(6), 693-694. doi: 10.1080/0092623x.2015.1064636

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Bering, J., Medvecky, F., & Curtin, E. (2016). Scientists behaving badly. Proceedings of the 14th International Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference. (pp. 148). Retrieved from http://pcst-2016.org/

More publications...