Psychology is the science that deals with the analysis of perception, of thinking, of experiencing, and of the behavior of human beings. In doing this, it applies different scientific methods (e.g. experiments, questionnaires, case studies, observations). Scientific psychology is divided into different subfields, such as general psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, business psychology, work and organizational psychology, clinical psychology, educational psychology, to name just some examples.
Social psychology is that area of psychology that deals with the scientific analysis of a person´s influence on their social environment and vice versa. Thus, it tries to answer questions such as, "Why do we perceive people from different social groups in different ways?", "What is our idea of ourselves?", "Under which conditions do conflicts between groups arise?", "What do we mean by stereotypes and biases, and how does pigeonhole thinking come about?", "Why do we help other people in certain circumstances, and when don´t we do this?"
An additional aspect of the research in social psychology is communication. Whenever people work on tasks together, whenever they develop an understanding of their social environment, whenever they make decisions, then they draw on communicated knowledge, or they communicate it themselves. Communication is also the tool people use whenever they influence one another - consciously or unconsciously - in their experiences and behavior, and thus it is an object of social psychology.
A further major research area that plays an important role in social psychology (but also in general psychology) is that of motivation. In this area, questions such as the following are addressed, "What are the conscious and unconscious reasons for human behaviors and judgments?", "When do we say that somebody has a high achievement motivation?", "Are there fundamental motives of human beings?", "Why do some people with average skills manage to perform better than others with higher skills?", "What is meant by self-control or self-regulation?"
The research area of self-regulation generally addresses topics that in the everyday use of the term are discussed as "self-control" or "self-discipline". Modern approaches to research on self-regulation understand self-control or self-regulation to mean a basic function of the human mind that is characterized by the ability to control one´s own thinking, feeling, behavior, and performance at will. Thus it is analyzed under which conditions we are able to resist temptations, to control emotions, or to ignore distractions – thereby allowing us to concentrate on the currently important tasks. As we all know, we manage to do this at different times to a different extent, and the ability of self-control often depends on the respective situation. Research on this field has also shown huge inter-individual differences.
Economic psychology analyzes the subjective experience and behavior of people in an economic environment. Here we try to gain insights into human decision making by combining psychological and economic methods and theories. Questions such as the following are addressed, "Which psychological processes are the bases of human behavior in economic contexts?", "Which biases are people prone to in decision making and what can be done to reduce them?", and „Which motives drive behavior in negotiations?"
The chair addresses research questions from the following areas:
The research is oriented both towards fundamental research (laboratory experiments) and towards applied research (e.g. field studies in schools and companies). Generally, the research at the chair has a strong interdisciplinary orientation. Thus, there are cooperations with researchers from the areas of economics, empirical educational research, and neuroscience.
The education of the students, as well as the research is focused on the following contents: decision making, motivation, self-regulation, social cognition.
The individual aspects in these areas that we research at the Chair of Social & Economic Psychology (Professor Dr Anja Achtziger) are listed below:
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NYU Abu Dhabi