2017 – 2018

Supervisor: Jasmin Mahmoodi
Team: Christoph Henking, Jitka Curdova, Marvin Kunz, Karla Matic, Peter Mohr, Maja Vovko

Abstract: With the exponential growth of the digital economy, online services have permeated our everyday lives and users produce vast quantities of data. To use digital services and products, users often disregard privacy policies, which are usually written in permissive and legalistically confusing way making them lengthy to read and difficult to understand. As a result, users tend to outweigh the benefits and ignore the costs of using a certain service or product, causing a high acceptance of the policies, even though they run counter users’ privacy values. Applying insights from psychology and behavioural economics, this research aims to investigate valuation of personal data and privacy.

Supervisor: Amy Orben
Team: Natália Valkovičová, Jakub Krawiec, Augustin Mutak, Fabian Dablander, Marlene Hecht, Daina Kosite

Abstract: Social media is radically altering the human social landscape. Instead of engaging in direct and reciprocated contact, many social media users now scroll through other user’s posts on their newsfeeds. Is this changing our feelings of social connectedness? Are we becoming more alienated from our peers? To the contrary, previous research suggested a strong relation between intense Facebook use and feelings of connection towards other users, but it lacked the tools to untangle their causal direction. That is, does intense Facebook use increase social connectedness, or does increased social connectedness lead to more intense Facebook use? Our project investigates this causal link.

Using two studies and modern statistical techniques, we aim to further elaborate how social media has transformed relationship formation and maintenance. All our materials and data will be made publicly available to increase both the dissemination and scrutiny of our work.

Supervisor: Jérémy Lemoine
Team: Magdalena Hoszowska, Ralitsa Karakasheva, David lzydorczyk, Ayse Busra Topal, Aylin Köseoğlu, Felix Dübbers, Mafalda Fontinha Mascarenhas

Abstract: Identity leadership describes that by sharing decision-making and giving autonomy to group members, especially for those who have a high level of collective self-efficacy, leaders can create a shared sense of social identity. It may galvanize their followers and lead to more work commitment. Additionally, the relationship with the supervisor influences the well-being of the employees as well as motivation and performance of the workers. In two studies, we aim to explore the mechanisms through which a leader who creates a shared group identity can increase work commitment. The goal is to provide practical guidelines for leaders in organisations to increase commitment. Also, the model can be transferred to other non-organisational contexts such as education, sports, politics or NGOs.

Supervisor: Kaja Damnjanović
Team: Žan Lep, Tero Pulkkinen, Sara Morales, Sandra Ilić, Wing Yi Lam, Johanna Graeber, Loes Vingerhoets

Abstract: The decision on childhood vaccination is one of the most important concerns a parent encounters. Despite the fact that immunization prevents more than two million deaths annually and is one of the most cost-effective health investments (WHO, 2015), anti-vaccination movements are on the rise, and the bursts of vaccine-preventable diseases have been linked to their activities.
Our focal point is not whether vaccine hesitancy exists, but how it is conveyed via cognitive mechanisms, and to identify which factors influence childhood vaccination decision. We will set up two related studies: first, we will measure parents’ childhood vaccination decision, and test a set of both psychological and societal correlates. In the experimental study, we will measure parents’ susceptibility to outcome bias.

Supervisor: Kris Bevelander
Team: Inés Sanguino, Kris Bevelander, Markus Tünte, Catherine Kakoulakis, Anna-Lena Tebbe, Katharina Herte

Abstract: We look at other people’s food choices to determine what and how much we eat. The extent to which people are susceptible to social influence on eating varies. Pregnancy provides women a reason or an excuse to change their diets for better or worse. Studies show that so-called ‘social norm-based’ messages have potential to steer non-pregnant women to make healthy food choices. This project will investigate to what extent pregnant women are susceptible to social norms on their own eating behaviour. The research aims are to 1) understand how the perception of the social environment influences European pregnant women’s eating behaviour, and 2) test to what extent pregnant women are susceptible to social norm messages compared to non-pregnant women.

Supervisor: Nikola Erceg
Team: Jessica Lorimer, Alessia Cottone, Kiran Manku, Manou Willems, Denis Vlašiček, Matthias Burghart, Hannah Pütz

Abstract: To attract attention and funding, many charities opt for online advertising. The majority of their funds come from private donations, elicited through these advertisements. Seeing that morals have been shown to drive behaviour, we are asking whether framing the charitable advertisements in line with people’s moral foundations will increase donations of time and money. Additionally, we want to know if increasing the saliency of social norms within these advertisements increases charitable giving. To do so, we will collect Facebook data across countries through a custom-developed application. This data will help us to predict which framing would be most effective in nudging individual behaviour change. We hope that these findings will contribute to the effective action and sustainability of charities internationally.

2016 – 2017

Supervisor: Atar Herzinger, University of Cologne, Germany
Team: Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes, Felicia Sundström, Amel Benzerga, Jana Berkessel, Matija Franklin, Niken Linda Dinartika

Abstract: Excessive consumption is on the rise, which heavily impacts financial, ecological and social aspects of life. A new social media trend on YouTube promotes consumer Minimalism, also known as voluntary simplicity—a lifestyle choice of reduced consumption and sustainable consumer behavior. However, voluntary simplicity is unpopular and difficult to adopt. The proposed research project will test a method of promoting voluntary simplicity via YouTube Minimalism videos. This intervention will test both self-transcendence and self-enhancement values and goals as motivators of voluntary simplicity. The project is expected to contribute to the limited literature on voluntary simplicity, online behavioral change interventions, and the use of social marketing principles in consumer interventions.

Supervisor: Dr Alina Cosma, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
Team: Jelisaveta Belić, Darija Petrović, Maria Teresa Stella, Filip Murar, Manying Lo, Frederike Fenski, Ondřej Blecha

Abstract: The promotion of positive mental health is a worldwide priority. Despite all the efforts invested in preventive and curative work, it is estimated that one if four persons will experience at some point in their lives a mental health condition. What is even more worrying is the fact that up to half of the mental health problems have their onset before the age of 14. Recent statistics (national & international surveys, meta-analysis, international reports) point out to the fact that child and adolescent mental health problems are on the rise. But is that really the case? If so, what could explain this. This research project will try to explore these questions. We will start by looking at recent trend data (from 2002 onwards) on some main adolescent mental well-being indicators from your countries. Next based on these results, we will seek to explore if and how mental well-being problems among adolescents are really on a rise.

Supervisor: Jennifer Grau-Sánchez, University of Barcelona, Spain
Team: Renata Hlavová, Méabh Foley, Bodil Hundevad, Andrijana Radukić, Olatz Ojinaga Alfageme

Abstract: Music plays an important role in several aspects of everyday life in all cultures across the lifespan. However, only few studies have addressed the meaningfulness of music in the elderly. This project aims to investigate the role of music in everyday life and its relationship with emotional well-being in elderly people across different countries of Europe. For this purpose, musical activities and preferences as well as emotional well-being will be assessed. The findings may provide a deeper understanding of the role of music in ageing. This advanced knowledge could help develop therapeutic applications, such as musical recreational programmes for older people living in the community or in residential care.

Supervisor: Peter Edelsbrunner, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Team: Demet Soyyilmaz, Laura Griffin, Miguel Hernandez, Nina Vaupotič, Šimon Kucharský, Ekaterina Peycheva

Abstract: Scientific thinking is a predicate for scientific inquiry, and thus important to develop early in psychology students as potential future researchers. The present research is aimed at fathoming the contributions of  formal and informal learning experiences to psychology students’ development of scientific thinking during their first year of study. We hypothesize that informal experiences are relevant beyond formal experiences. First-year psychology student cohorts from various European countries will be assessed at the beginning and again at the end of the second semester. Assessments of scientific thinking will include scientific reasoning skills, the understanding of basic statistics concepts, and epistemic cognition. Formal learning experiences will include engagement in academic activities which are guided by university authorities. Informal learning experiences will include non-compulsory, self-guided learning experiences. Formal and informal experiences will be assessed with a newly developed survey. As dispositional predictors, students’ need for cognition and self-efficacy in psychological science will be assessed. In a structural equation model, students’ learning experiences and personal dispositions will be examined as predictors of their development of scientific thinking. Commonalities and differences in predictive weights across universities will be tested. The project is aimed at contributing information for designing university environments to optimize the development of students’ scientific thinking.

Supervisor: Dr Annika Nübold, Maastricht University, Netherlands
Team: Gerhard Prinz, Helena Eidast, Romil Depala, Elisabeth Johannessen, Nera Božin, Josef Bader

Abstract: How far would you go to reach the top? How superior do you feel? How careless are you towards others feelings? The dark triad of personality consists of three universal, toxic personality traits, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy, all sharing the same callous core. Recent corporate scandals have evidenced detrimental social and economic consequences of dark personality at work. However, the emphasis on the stability of personality has prevented further exploration into the situational causes of dark personality expressions. This project aims to identify these causes in order to help organizations to systematically target and reduce their effect with interventions, thereby preventing employees from breaking bad. What takes you over the edge?

Supervisor: Robert Blakey, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Team: Adrian Askelund, Matilde Boccanera, Johanna Immonen, Nejc Plohl, Cassandra Popham, Clarissa Sorger, Julia Stuhlreyer

Abstract: Neuroscience has identified brain structures and functions that correlate with psychopathic tendencies. Since people are not truly responsible for their brains, it has been argued that psychopaths should not be blamed for their actions. This experimental research aims to evaluate the impact of communicating this theory of psychopathy on the moral behaviour of lay people. If psychopathy is blamed on the brain, people may feel less morally responsible for their own psychopathic tendencies and therefore may be more likely to display those tendencies. We will also assess public recognition of these potential negative consequences of neuroscience communication. This field and online research could inform the integration of neuroscience into policy in a way that is sensitive to potential negative consequences.

2015 – 2016


Supervisor: Angelos Kassianos, University College, London – United Kingdom
Contact: Tobias Wingen
Team: Victor Estal Muñoz, Silvana Mareva, Pietro Marenco, Barbara Schmidt, David Thomson, Caroline Ott

Abstract: Currently, Quality of Life is assessed using retrospective questionnaires that arguably compromise the validity of data and results. The current evidence on the efficacy of using smartphones for assessment is sparse for a topic that is increasingly visible in scientific literature. This study’s primary research question is whether collecting real-time QoL data using a smartphone app offers better validity as a method compared to retrospective questionnaires, further considering utility, feasibility and cultural differences.

Supervisor: Elena Canadas, University of Lausanne – Switzerland
Contact: Kim Majoranc
Team: Lindsey van Bokhorst, Lenka Knapova, Zea Szebeni, Dragana Tomic, Adam Taborsky

Abstract: This project evaluates the cognitive and interpersonal capabilities linked to accurately assessing performance where the nonverbal behavior transmitted by the athletes plays an important role in the program. The purpose of this project will be to understand how those abilities may affect subjective scoring and, with such knowledge, promote evidence-driven training for judging in such sports.

Supervisor: Rocio del Pino, University of Deusto – Spain
Contact: Lea Jakob
Team: Nienke DeBles, Annet Dijkzeul, Alexandra Sarafoglou, Lana Bojanic, Desislava Tsvetanova, Eike Buabang

Abstract: The Normacog Brief Battery is a new battery that offers a brief cognitive profile adjusted by the sociodemographic characteristics of Spanish people. NBB evaluates primary cognitive domains and students will collect real data in several countries to inform the potential of wider application. Producing such adaptations that lead to evidence-backed standards has major implications for use in a variety of contexts, not least of which being continental policies for education. Team members will gain skills in translation, adaptation and standardisation of major neuropsychological tests, each with the ability to fit activities to their own interests.

Supervisor: Yvonne van den Berg, Radboud University Nijmegen – The Netherlands
Contact: Melis Cetincelik
Team: Zarina Hogekamp, Asli Bursalioglu, Claudia Calin, Lauge Haastrup, Johanna Blomster

Abstract: Teachers are important for children’s cognitive development, but also for their social relations. Yet, research on teachers’ influence on students’ social relationships is limited. Recently, the term ‘the invisible hand of the teacher’ was introduced to describe the relatively understudied teacher practices and processes that impact classroom social ecology and peer relationships.This study will be looking at the affective bond of teacher-student relationship using sociometry, which considers the relatedness and interactions between students in a classroom.

Supervisor: Daniel Morillo, Autonomous University of Madrid – Spain
Contact: Barbora Hubena
Team: Rui Mamede, Iulia Cioca, Slobodan Golusin, Eline Van Geert, Altan Orhon

Abstract: Assessing personality through traditional questionnaires can be prone to eliciting socially desirable responses from participants. Forced-choice questionnaires are alleged to be resistant to such bias, with more reliable outcomes. This format prompts the respondents with several block items that reduces social desirability found in traditional versions. In this project, we will test if FCQs are a robust, reliable alternative for online use when applied in various cultures and languages

Supervisor: Zorana Jolić-Marjanović, University of Belgrade – Serbia
Contact: Hannes Jarke
Team: Nika Cermak, Emma Talvitie, Paula Wicher, Irena Arslanova, Margo Janssens, Jovana Gjorgjiovska

Abstract:  Since its debut in early 1990’s, emotional intelligence has been a star of both popular and scientific journals. However, the future empirical and theoretical validation of EI is seriously compromised by lack of appropriate measurement procedures in a time when Big Data makes such issues doubly critical to address. This study will seek to propose and empirically evaluate a testing battery of several maximum performance instruments to see if it can offer comprehensive EI assessment.

Comments are closed