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Department of Psychology Sozial- und Gesundheitspsychologie

Sexual health

The primary prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a genuine area of application for social and health psychological theories and research. As the transmission of HIV takes place today practically only during interpersonal interactions (engaging in unprotected sex and needle sharing), the central issue in this research area is what factors lead people to expose themselves (or not) to the risk of transmission. Here, not only individual characteristics such as knowledge, attitudes, and convictions play a role but also the immediate context of the interactions, the prevailing norms, and the wider social environment and group affiliation (for example, immigrants, women, gay men).

However, sexuality must not be viewed as a health risk only; instead, it is an area of experience and behavior that involves individual physical, cognitive, emotional, and social and cultural aspects and that accompanies people throughout their entire lives. Here we are interested not so much in clinical or developmental psychology issues as we are in learning more about how sexuality is experienced and handled by individual groups or collectives, what connections there are with other areas of life (such as health), what societal pictures and norms exist, and how these influence the experiences and behaviors of individuals.

Students studying Social and Health Psychology can write literature papers, do research projects, and write Master’s theses in the area of HIV prevention and sexual research. Students may develop their own proposals or collaborate in ongoing research projects at the Interdisziplinäre Forschungs- und Koordinationsstelle für Sexualwissenschaften der Universität Zürich [Interdisciplinary Research and Coordination Office for Human Sexuality Studies at the University of Zurich].

Currently working in this research area:
Rainer Hornung; Yvonne Traber

Weiterführende Informationen

Head of Social and Health Psychology