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Department of Psychology Applied Social and Health Psychology


This page will provide you with our research interests as well as the main research activities associated with current and completed research projects. 

Our research is focused on questions relevant in health psychology, and in particular, on the application of health psychology in daily life. For this reason, our research interests lie in the change of health-related behaviour (e.g. the increase of physical activity, the cutting back of unhealthy snacking habits, and the cessation of smoking), as well as stress and disease management (e.g. in people with multiple illnesses). The research into individual self-regulation plays an equally important role as the research into social exchange processes. For this reason, we have several research projects focusing on dyads (e.g., couples), in order to be able to not only examine individual self-regulation but to more precisely consider the perspectives of both partners in their interaction and their relation to our topics of interest. Another important element of our research is the application and development of research methods which allows research in longitudinal designs, within and between persons, in a natural environment. This includes, for example, experience sampling, diary entries, and intervention studies in everyday life (ecological momentary interventions). 

Areas of Research Interest

  • Health behaviour change and health promotion
  • Stress and disease management
  • Decision-making research

Health behaviour change and health promotion

Unfavourable health behaviours (e.g. smoking or physical inactivity) are central factors in the development of disease as well as also being responsible for premature deaths (mortality). Thus, research into the conditions for the successful change of health behaviour and the long-term maintenance of these changes remains a central concern in the successful prevention of disease and mortality. On the one hand, the question about which factors play an important role in health behaviour can be answered at the individual level. A central point to this topic is research into which abilities of individual self-regulation (e.g. planning) favours health behaviour change. On the other hand, we also consider social exchange processes (e.g. social support, social control) and their role in the successful change of health behaviour. In addition, the interplay between both individual and social factors is of great interest to us.

Currently working in this field: see German page

Stress and disease management

In line with cooperation projects in the areas of transplant medication as well as within the context of dementia, this research area is focused, on the one hand, on the relevance of social exchange processes within dyads for stress and stress management processes. On the other, we also investigate the meaning of individual self-regulation strategies in the area of behaviour regulation (e.g. planning) in the context of stress and stress management. Furthermore, we also focus on the stabilisation of health and quality of life despite stress or maladies that are due to illness. Another focal point in this area is the interaction processes between doctor and patient within the diagnostic process, treatment recommendation and adherence to medication. This is looked at within mono- and multimorbidity, as well as in curative and palliative settings.

Currently working in this field: see German page

Decision-making research

Research on decision-making In an applied form of classical research on decision making, we research naturalistic decision making, i.e. how people use their previous experience in order to make good decisions regarding a specific work or decision-making situation. This could include, amongst others, the areas of diagnostic decision-making from doctors or decisions regarding health, and so on. The process of decision-making therefore is our main area of interest, which consists of the following phases: the creation of decision options, the search for relevant information, the evaluation of the decision, and the implementation of the chosen decision. An important role is played by an individual’s Desired Level of Confidence, which is the subjective certainty with which an option in a decision-making situation is finally chosen under uncertainty. The research in this field also deals with the development of methods of data collection and visualisation of naturalistic decision making processes (such as with help from decision matrices, confidence profiling, and so forth), and the development and validation of the decision making test (SDTO). Furthermore, out of the perspective of social psychology, we are also interested in how decision-making within doctor-patient relationships proceeds, or more specifically, how it can be optimised. This may include dyadic data and shared decision making, for example in emergency units or curative-palliative settings.

Currently working in this field: see German page

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