Research in our department investigates processes of cognition, affect/emotion, learning, and motivation from an action perspective on human functioning. According to this view, micro-processes of psychological functioning (e.g., perception; attention; reasoning; conditioning; memory) are tuned to the demands of "superordinate", personal levels of functioning (goal pursuit and goal adjustment; coping with threats and challenges; stabilization of self-concept and personal identity). In turn, "subordinate" levels of functioning are important for the regulation of behavior and can also have a backward effect on personal orientations and goal pursuit.
To investigate these questions, we make use of paradigms that were developed in Cognitive Psychology and Social Cognition research (e.g., semantic, affective, negative priming; task switching; evaluative conditioning; Stroop and Simon paradigms, IAT). Current research focuses on the following topics: (a) Action-regulation in affective processing (effects of opportunites and threats on the processing of positive and negative stimuli), (b) emotional action regulation (effects of valent stimuli on approach/avoidance behavior; moderating conditions and mediating mechanisms), (c) the self in motivation and cognition (the self as a source of personal motivation; self-serving biases in cognition, evaluation, and perception), (d) basic mechanisms of cognitive functioning (spreading activation, selective attention, inhibition, binding of features and responses, episodic memory retrieval), (e) theories and measures of implicit cognition (automatic activation of evaluations and associations), (f) cognitive representations of mental categories (automatic stereotype activation; moderating mechanisms; changing stereotypes).