Dr Miguel Farias began his academic career at the University of Lisbon, where he studied psychology and psychotherapy, before moving to Oxford to do his doctorate with Dr Mansur Lalljee and Prof Gordon Claridge. His doctoral research focused on the attitudes, values and personality of people attracted to alternative spiritual ideas and practices.

Following his DPhil, Miguel was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre and the Oxford Centre for Science of the Mind, where he worked with philosophers and neuroscientist on a brain imaging study of the analgesic effects of religious beliefs. He moved back to the Department of Experimental Psychology as a Lecturer and carried out new research on conspiracy beliefs, pilgrimage, and the stress-buffering effects of believing in science.

Around 2010, in collaboration with the Prison Phoenix Trust, he embarked on the first randomized-controlled trial of the effects of yoga and meditation in prisons. This eventually led him to write, together with clinical psychologist Catherine Wikholm, a book that examines the science and myths about the effects of meditation, including its potential for healing and harm. In 2014, he joined Coventry University to lead the Brain, Belief and Behaviour research group, where he is carrying out new research on the modification of beliefs.

Other interests: Miguel is an amateur musician, currently trying to learn the 12-string Portuguese guitar given to him by his grandfather.

He writes regularly for proper musicians and has also written a short illustrated children’s book.


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