Social and Personality Psychology Lab


Research Profile 

The chair of social and personality psychology brings together scholars whose research is dedicated to the understanding of the interplay between personality and social psychological processes. Our team members hold expertise in different fields of psychology and individually explore people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviors in the domain morality and justice-related issues. This includes studies on moral courage, emotional reactions to moral violations, moral decision making as well as interventions against at immoral actions. We study these topics at different levels of analysis including intra- and interpersonal and intra- and intergroup. Besides classical lab studies, we employ a wide range of research methods in our research undertaking: surveys, field experiments, interaction studies, game theory and more.

Justice and Morality

We investigate perceptions of and reactions to injustice from the different perspectives of victim, perpetrator or beneficiary, and observer; and systematic interindividual differences in these perceptions and reactions. This involves a specific interest in moral emotions and their motivational and communicative functions; processes of adherence to and disengagement from social norms and moral principles; as well as their active protection. Our research addresses these processes and behavior in various social contexts, including interpersonal and intra- and intergroup constellations, in online and offline settings, and in various life domains, such as political behavior, work, education, or everyday life.

Interpersonal Dynamics

Building social relationships with others is a crucial skill for a person's social, professional, and identity development. We consider the reciprocal influence of experience and behavior by considering the potential interaction effect between the target and perceiver.

In dyadic settings, we investigate preferences for whom we chose as romantic partners and whom we stay with. In longterm romantic relationships, how do we form judgements of relationship quality and satisfaction. Relating to the domain of morality, we explore how moral breaches are judged and reacted to within close relationships.

In doing so, we explore, on the one hand, the smallest possible unit of observation, a dyadic relationship, where we consider intrasexual and intersexual differences in the preferences for who we want to be in a relationship with. We also study how our romantic relationships influences our judgment and behavior in domains related to relationship quality or morality, which might play a role in maintaining the relationship. On the other hand, we also look at group-related processes and deal with issues such as group formation and group identity, For example, we examine the ways in which responses to experience of micro-aggressions from a minority can influence the majority groups’ behavior.

Intra- and Intergroup relations

Beyond the interpersonal level, we put a special focus on understanding social and moral issues at the intra- and intergroup level. We study how persons perceive and react to moral violations committed by their fellow group members or directed against their or other groups.

We look at norm violations, such as discrimination, prejudice and intergroup aggressions, manifested, for example, in online hate-speech and everyday micro-aggression. Considering the negative outcomes of behaviours that inflict harm on others, we test various interventions to reduce their emergence. Specifically, we address processes and conditions that facilitate or hinder that people confront or call out such violations, and the conditions that foster positive effects of such confrontations. In doing so, we examine individual differences such as justice sensitivity, group identification, and system justification. In addition, we look at prosocial behaviour and empathy in the context of social and economic inequality.

Personality and social psychology interplay

Across the different research foci, we are dedicated to understanding the interplay between personality and social psychological processes. We conceptualize personality as systematic interindividual differences in the ways psychological processes unfold, in dependence of the (social) context. We consider the systematic interactions and transactions between personality and social processes. Accordingly, we investigate how individuals select, subjectively construe, and actively shape their social situations, and how their experiences in turn shape their characteristic ways of processing and responding to social situations. We are particularly interested in how personality dispositions play out in intra- and intergroup constellations, and how these roles might differ (or not) from interpersonal constellations.

Applicability of our research

As a group, we strive towards producing research that can be applied to real-world issues, such as online hate speech or everyday moral courage. To this end, we investigate processes and try to identify causes and effects, which should enable us to come up with better tools for working towards a safe and just world. We also want to inform public discourse and policy with our insights into how we think, behave and react to our surroundings. This means that science communication and public outreach are central parts of our work within this research group.

Effects of modern communication technologies on our everyday life

Across different areas, our team investigates how modern communication technologies shape peoples’ everyday lives. For example, we investigate how Instagram posts affect self-perception and how people select news media online. We further explore the unique challenges to and facilitators of moral courage, that people are subjected to online, and how to leverage them against incivility and hate speech. In addition to effects that are contained in the online environment, we are further interested in the impact of modern communication technologies on offline interactions, such as how smartphones enhance or impede dyadic interactions.

Multiple data collection approach

In our research, we combine a broad range of methodological data collection approaches. Since each single approach is necessarily limited, we capitalize on phenomena that we can observe consistently across methods. The methods include self-report (e.g., online surveys, ambulatory assessment with intensive longitudinal designs), behavioral observation (e.g., field experiments, observations of interactions in the lab and field, economic games, facial emotion expression), behavioral traces (e.g., natural language processing, website scraping, social media data),  process tracing methods (e.g., mouse- and eye-tracking), reaction time based measuresment, as well as state of the art experimental approaches (e.g., bot interventions).

Chair Colloquium

Ongoing research projects in social psychology and personality psychology are discussed in the context of the regularly held chair colloquium.

Schedule (will be continuously updated)

Current third-party funded projects and cooperation partners

Personalized AI-Based Interventions Against Online Norm Violations: Behavioral Effects And Ethical Implications (Anna Baumert, Bergische Universität Wuppertal and Jens Grossklags, Technische Universität München)

Open Science Statement

We see the debate on replicability and transparency of psychological research as a great opportunity for social and personality psychology, but also for us personally, to rethink and readjust objectives, incentives and practical research procedures. In our research, we focus on theoretical acuity, ensuring reliability and validity of measurement and manipulation, sample size planning based on test power, (direct) replication, as well as so-called Open Science measures (Open Material, Scripts, Data) and pre-registration of hypotheses and confirmatory analyses.

These principles are guiding for us in teaching, for example in the context of internships, in the supervision of theses and dissertations.

They also guide us in our work at the institutional level, for example in selection committees, as reviewers or editors. We take an active part in the discussion about replicability and transparency.


German Reproducibility Network (GRN)

Netzwerk der Open Science Initiativen (NOSI)

Commitment to Research Transparency and Open Science

Last modified: 23.02.2023

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