Professional Life

I am a senior scientific researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Social Research (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau) as well as an Associate Professor of Health Psychology at Leiden University. Over the past 20 years I have worked Portrait of Winnie gebhardton the development of theory related to the study of health behavior change. My theoretical framework and accompanying empirical work are among the very first to underscore the importance of contextualizing health behavior within the personal goal structure. As such, my work focuses on 1. underlying motives for (health) goals, and 2. other important and potentially conflicting or facilitating goals, that may influence behavioral change.

My substantial number of well-cited publications support the relevance of underlying motivations, goal processes, and of applying intervention techniques to reduce goal conflict and ambivalence. More recently my research concerns self‐ and group‐identity processes during the process of health behavior change. In this, I explore new intervention techniques to link a health goal to central self-views, and by boosting “transitional identities”.

I collaborate with many scholars in Leiden, in The Netherlands and around the world (see collaboration). My theoretical insights have been applied to a broad range of behaviors and people. These include safer sexual practices, exercise, smoking and alcohol behavior among adolescents, the elderly and those with a lower SES background. In addition, I have evaluated the effects of (governmental) interventions to encourage healthier lifestyles, and have been concerned with improving the process of implementation of interventions.

Read more about me in my curriculum vitae.

Personal life

I am married to Marc, and mother of Douwe (1997) and Tess (1999).

I  like to spend time with family and friends, singing with our choir Decadent (here you can see us on youtube), and playing my beautiful new flute. I try to meditate on a daily basis, take Yoga and Pilates lessons, love to walk outdoors, and to relax at home in our garden, or in the nearby spa. I work voluntarily as a bereavement counselor for the bereavement support group at hospice Issoria in Leiden and used to work as a Humanistic Speaker at memorial services. I also was a volunteer at the Leiden bereavement cafe.


You can reach me at: Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, Leiden University, PO Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands. Email: gebhardt[at]