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Research Focus

In the social psychology group, our main research and teaching areas are intra- and intergroup relations, social inequality and social change, and identity processes. These topics are outlined in more detail below. We are always particularly interested in taking an intercultural perspective on our research questions. Our research methods inculde laboratory studies and experiments as well as field studies. 

Intra- and intergroup relations

Intragroup relations refer to our relationships with members of our own social groups. People differ in their perceptions of others and in the way they deal with conflicts within their groups. We are currently investigating whether people in different cultures have different approaches to confict resolution and whether interpersonal relationships affect the accuracy of person perception.

Intergroup relations describe our attitudes and behaviors directed towards other groups. Examples of negative attitudes and behaviors towards outgroups include sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism. We investigate how and when prejudices and discriminatory behaviors occur, and how members of discriminated groups cope with this experience. An important research area is the active confrontation of prejudice. Here, too, we are interested in cultural differences in confrontational styles.

Social inequality and social change

Our society is hierarchically structured. It consists of privileged groups as well as groups that are severely disadvantaged. We are exploring how people deal with this inequality. What are the psychological processes that initiate or prevent social change? Why is it that the most disadvantaged people often do not oppose social injustice? We are also investigating the psychological consequences of participating in protests. At the moment, we are particularly interested in the role of allies (cooperators) in this context. We want to find out why and when people who are not directly affected by an issue take part in protests as an act of "solidarity".

Identity processes

People have different relationships with their various social groups. We identify strongly with some groups that we belong to, but at the same time we may not identify, or even actively disidentify, with others. In the area of identification, one thing we look at is the role of national flags, nationalism and patriotism in people's prejudice against immigrants and those with other nationalities. Recently, we conducted a cross-cultural study comparing what people from different countries around the world associate with their national flags. In the area of disidentification, we are currently comparing the concept across different cultures and investigating the psychological consequences of identification and disidentification processes.