Research and Collaboration in Allgemeine Psychologie II


Prosocial Behavior and Cooperation

Motivational Basis of Altruism

Altruism is a form of prosocial behavior that benefits others but is costly to oneself. Understanding this type of social behavior is important in a world with rapidly growing human population and limited natural resources. In this series of projects, we are interested in different facets of prosocial behavior and their relation to each other. We try to understand their emotional, motivational, and neural underpinnings. [For further information please contact: Sabine Windmann]

The Extended Self

Individuals differ with regard to the “oneness” of their self concept, though this may not be conscious. Some people define themselves quite individualistically as a delimited unit, whereas others have a broader, more “distributed” sense of themselves. We wish to test the theory that the latter goes along with enhanced empathy, higher social and emotional intelligence, and enhanced observational learning. This association could help explain the evolutionary basis of “strong” altruism, a form of prosocial behavior that is costly to the actor without providing any direct or indirect benefit whatsoever. [For further information please contact: Sabine Windmann]

Moral Autonomy

In our experimental work, we conceptualize reactive moral autonomy as resistance against external or internal pressures during moral decision making. We relate such measures to self-reported traits and thinking styles to find out whether moral autonomy can be considered a personality trait. Additionally, we are looking into the differentiation between reflective and reactive (moral) autonomy. In a further project (grassroots project), a consecutive series of studies, we are looking into laypersons perception of autonomy using a mixed approach combining qualitative and quantitative methods. [For further information please contact: Elli Zey and Sabine Windmann]

Facets of Altruism

When investigating altruism, we distinguish between three different facets of altruistic behavior: (1) Sharing resources, (2) standing up for one's own moral convictions despite social costs, and (3) observing and punishing deviant behavior. Although these forms of behavior may seem very different, they all are costly for oneself but beneficial for others. We are interested in the relation between altruism and personality traits as well as behavior inside and outside the lab in order to examine the commonalities and differences of the three facets with regard to their underlying motives and societal impact. [For further information please contact: Lucie Binder]


International Collaborations

We are collaborating with:

Frances Chen (Vancouver, Canada) How the Facets of Altruism differentially affect health and wellbeing

Bin-Bin Chen (Shanghai, China) The effects of experienced unpredictability on altruistic behavioral traits

Anna Abraham (Georgia, US) Divergent Thinking and Autonomy