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Social Psychology

The Social Psychology Programme is dedicated to studying human beings in their social context, investigating the cognitive, affective, and motivational processes underlying social behaviour.

We spend much of our lives surrounded by others, and our emotions, cognitions, and behaviours are profoundly shaped by the social environments in which we operate. Such environments can be construed at various levels of analysis, such as close relationships, small groups, larger collectives, intergroup relations, and the broader cultural or societal context. As we navigate our lives, our emotions, cognitions, and behaviours are shaped by interactions with other individuals as well as through exposure to social norms and belief systems.

Four research questions

The Social Psychology Programme covers all of these sources of influence in its research in order to contribute to a thorough understanding of the human condition. Current research centres around four overarching questions that link fundamental cognitive, affective, and motivational processes to human behaviour in its social context.

  • 1. How do people perceive and learn about others? 

    Human behaviour is shaped to a large extent by how people perceive and think about each other. We seek to unravel the mechanisms and contingencies of social perception and social information processing that underlie basic social cognition, the development of stereotypes and prejudice, and social behaviour. 

  • 2. How do emotions regulate social life? 

    Social life is inherently emotional. As critical linking pins between the individual and the social context, emotions provide a unique window into the human mind. Our research aims to illuminate how emotions drive social behaviour by investigating how people are influenced by their own as well as by others' emotions.

  • 4. How do people navigate today's increasingly complex world? 

    Social life can be highly complex, unpredictable, ambiguous, and uncertain. In the "age of anxiety," societal, man-made, and natural threats as well as increasing informational ambiguity make uncertainty an inherent part of our lives and render decision-making exceedingly difficult. We study how people cope with such uncertainty.