Vector graphic of a puzzle, source: Colourbox
Vector graphic of a puzzle, source: Colourbox

Current Projects

DFG-Projects

The self-insight motive describes the dispositional tendency to strive for accurate self-knowledge. The present research program is the first to comprehensively investigate the nomological net, developmental antecedents and cognitive-behavioral consequences of the self-insight motive. Concerning the nomological net, we will validate the newly constructed self-assessment motive scale by testing its associations with other personality and self-concept variables. Concerning the antecedents, we will test the hypotheses that specific person factors (i.e., high epistemic curiosity, strong self-improvement motive) and environmental factors (i.e., unstable life circumstances, individualistic culture) lead to high levels of the self-insight motive. Concerning the consequences, we will test the hypotheses that the self-insight motive fosters self-monitoring and feedback seeking behavior, which then both lead to increased accuracy of self-reports among persons with a strong self-insight motive. The research program will involve a multi-methodological approach: In a set of seven empirical studies, self-reports, peer-reports, objective ability measures, and ambulatory assessment data will be gathered. Correlational, longitudinal, experimental, and cross-cultural designs will be implemented.

Narcissism is a personality trait with diverse, and potentially negative, consequences for interaction partners and society. This research program aims for a better understanding of these consequences. We take into consideration that the social consequences of narcissism might depend on moderating factors. We consider two classes of such moderating factors, narcissists’ objective qualities (Subproject I) and situational factors (Subproject II). In Subproject I we test the hypothesis that narcissists’ success in attaining desired social outcomes depends on whether or not they possess objective qualities that are beneficial for reaching these outcomes. In particular, we examine whether narcissists succeed in attaining wealth if they are intelligent, whether they succeed in gaining social influence if they possess socioemotional abilities and whether they succeed in attracting mates if they are physically attractive. To this end, we will conduct a laboratory round-robin study and a speed-dating study. Furthermore, we will analyze existing data from a large longitudinal panel dataset representative of the German population (N > 1500). In Subproject II, which deals with the moderating role of situational factors, we address two research questions. First, we investigate competitive intergroup situations and test whether narcissists are evaluated more positively by members of their ingroup than by members of an outgroup. We will address this question in two laboratory round-robin studies and a field study. This also includes an intercultural study testing whether the evaluation of German as opposed to Polish narcissists depends on the evaluator’s nationality (German vs. Polish). Second, we investigate situational influences on narcissists’ prosociality. We expect narcissists to show more prosocial behavior when such behavior is socially rewarded than when it is not socially rewarded, while we expect them to remain insensitive to the needs of the recipients. We address these questions in three experimental studies. The results of the research program will shed new light on narcissism and its effects on social outcomes. Furthermore, they will more generally lead to a better understanding of how social outcomes are shaped by the interplay between motivation, objective qualities, and situational factors.

PhD sponsorship position

The influence of age and special life events on personality change and stability

The central subject of personality psychology is the study of the aspects that make an individual person as such. This also includes how these very aspects change. This research project uses large and representative panel studies to investigate how human personalities can be shaped in the long term.

Further projects

In this project, we evaluate a new translation of some items from the Big Five Inventory 2 (BFI-2) personality test by Soto and John (2017). Data for this project are collected in a study where we give participants the opportunity to complete this questionnaire and receive feedback on their personality. Click here [LINK] to access this study (only in German).

PsyWeb is an online panel that was launched in 2010 as a collaborative effort between three research groups at the University of Münster. Over time, PsyWeb has grown steadily and today eight researchers (and associated teams) are involved in this joint project of the Universities of Münster, Munich and Leipzig and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. Click here [LINK] to go to PsyWeb.

Completed Projects

DFG-Projects

  • Funding: German Research Association (DFG) from 09/2017 to 08/2019 (KR 4702/2-1)
  • Head: Dr. Sascha Krause
  • Project employee: Lucie Nikoleizig

Evaluations of interpersonal attraction between members of small groups can affect the performance of these groups. In the last two decades, different meta-analyses have shown that small groups with a high degree of interpersonal attraction are on average more powerful than groups with a low degree of interpersonal attraction.

To date, self-report measures are widely used in psychological assessments of interpersonal attraction between group members. Although such questionnaire techniques are useful for predicting group performance, they are also subject to well-known limitations, including impression management tendencies and the limits of self-awareness. Moreover, selfreports cannot be used to assess the implicit (automatically activated) evaluation of a group member. Recently, my research (Krause, Back, Egloff, & Schmukle, 2014) showed for the first time that a group variant of the affective priming task (small group APT) can provide a reliable and valid assessment of implicit evaluations of other members.

The goal of this DFG project is to be the first to investigate the consequences of implicit interpersonal attraction (compared with explicit interpersonal attraction) on group performance. Furthermore, on the basis of a new conceptual framework, this project aims to investigate which interpersonal behaviors mediate the relationship between interpersonal attraction and performance. The respective findings will be innovative in nature because previous small group research has not empirically investigated the influence of actual interpersonal behavior on group performance. The additional use of the small-group APT should—according to the assumptions of dual process models—lead to an improved (i.e., incremental) prediction of interpersonal behaviors.

A third aim of the DFG project is to investigate the reciprocal relationships between interpersonal attraction and group performance (Does interpersonal attraction more strongly affect group performance, or does group performance more strongly affect interpersonal attraction?). To answer this question, the project is planned as a longitudinal study in which interpersonal attraction and group performance will be measured on three separate occasions. On the one hand, the respective findings will be relevant for research on explicit interpersonal attraction and group performance because previous (explicit) research has not examined reciprocal relations between the pure interpersonal attraction facet (as one component of the cohesion construct) and group performance. On the other hand, it appears that this longitudinal study will be the first to investigate the reciprocal relationships between implicit interpersonal attraction and group performance.


Previous publications on this project:

In this project, the psychometric properties of various reaction time-based indirect procedures for measuring self-esteem are investigated. After an optimization of the presentation and evaluation procedures carried out in the course of the project so far, the reliability for a large part of the procedures is now in an at least satisfactory range. Despite the given reliability, however, almost no consistent correlations were found between the different groups of indirect procedures. As an explanation for this pattern of findings we assume that structurally different groups of indirect procedures capture different aspects of self-esteem. In the further course of the project, the differential validities of procedures for the measurement of propositional representations (self-esteem questionnaires), for the assessment of semantic-associative representations (Implicit Association Test; Extrinsic Affective Simon Task), and for the measurement of affective representations of self-esteem (priming procedures) will be examined in more detail. The criteria collected will be verbal and non-verbal behavior in a self-esteem interview situation as well as reactions after negative feedback in a performance situation and after social exclusion. In addition, the perspective will be broadened from the indirect recording of self-esteem to the indirect recording of interpersonal attraction.

 

Publications:

  • Krause, S., Back, M. D., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2014). Implicit interpersonal attraction in small groups: Automatically activated evaluations predict actual behavior toward social partners. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 671-679.
  • Krause, S., Back, M. D., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2012). A new reliable and valid tool for measuring implicit self-esteem: The response-window affective priming task. European Journal of Psychological Assessment28, 87-94.
  • Krause, S., Back, M. D., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2011). Reliability of implicit self-esteem measures revisited. European Journal of Personality, 25, 239-251.
  • Back, M. D., Krause, S. Hirschmüller, S., Stopfer, J. M., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2009). Unraveling the three faces of self-esteem: A new information-processing sociometer perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 933-937.
  • Funding: German Research Association (DFG) from 2008 — 2010 (BA 3731/2-1)
  • Head: Prof. Dr. Mitja Back

In this network, various scientists have joined forces to study the interplay between personality and social relationships. In real research contexts, most social phenomena cannot be understood without the influence of the personality of the persons involved. On the other hand, personality can only take shape in and develop through social interactions. On the basis of our own framework model, which is suitable to describe a) the effect of personality on social phenomena and b) the effect of social phenomena on personality, the state of the art of previous research, open questions and research problems as well as anticipated future developments will be dealt with within the framework of this scientific network.

Further information can be found on the homepage of this network at www.persoc.net.


Publications:

  • Back, M. D., Baumert, A., Denissen, J. J. A., Hartung, F.-M., Penke, L., Schmukle, S. C., Schönbrodt, F. D., Schröder-Abé, M., Vollmann, M., Wagner, J., & Wrzus, C. (2011). PERSOC: A unified framework for understanding the dynamic interplay of personality and social relationships. European Journal of Personality, 25, 90-107.
  • Back, M. D., Penke, L., Schmukle, S. C., & Asendorpf, J. B. (2011). Knowing your own mate value: Sex-specific personality effects on the accuracy of expected mate choices. Psychological Science22, 984-989.
  • Back, M. D., Penke, L., Schmukle, S. C., Sachse, K., Borkenau, P. & Asendorpf, J. B. (2011). Why mate choices are not as reciprocal as we assume: The role of personality, flirting, and physical attractiveness. European Journal of Personality, 25, 120-132.
  • Schönbrodt, F. D., Back, M. D., & Schmukle, S. C. (2012). TripleR: An R package for social relations analyses based on round robin designs. Behavior Research Methods, 44455-470.

The quality of social relationships has significant positive effects on well-being, life satisfaction and health. Accordingly, an analysis of the psychological processes of getting to know and forming new relationships is of great importance. Impressions towards strangers take place automatically, quickly and on the basis of minimal information. At the same time, they represent the central basis for our social decisions, i.e., for how we react to others in general, with whom we interact, and with whom we form short- and long-term relationships.

A first focus of the project is to investigate the determinants of first impressions of strangers - spontaneous interpersonal attraction. In any attraction judgment (e.g., person A about person B), three basic components can be distinguished: the perceiver effect, i.e., the general judgment tendency of the judger (how much does A like other people in general), the target effect, i.e., the tendency of the judger to be judged positively or negatively in general (how much is B liked in general), and the relationship effect, i.e., the specific judgment independent of these general tendencies (how much does A specifically like B). These components can now be related to personality traits. Accordingly, three sets of questions are examined: Who spontaneously likes strangers? Who is spontaneously liked by strangers? Who specifically likes whom during first encounters? Using a combination of the Social Relations Model (Kenny, 1994) and the Lens Model (Brunswik, 1956), we will also analyze which mediators - perceptual externalities and behaviors - mediate the connections between personality and attraction components (Back, Schmukle & Egloff, in press).

A second focus of the project is to investigate the stabilities and changes in interpersonal attraction that occur during the process of getting to know each other. These questions will be analyzed by means of longitudinal studies in which, in addition to spontaneous judgments, evolving relationships between real persons will be considered. First, the stability of the components of interpersonal attraction will be analyzed (e.g., to what extent spontaneously popular persons are also more popular during long-term acquaintance). The second is to analyze how the intercorrelations of the components of interpersonal attraction and meta-perceptions change over time. Here, we address issues of reciprocity (reciprocity) and assumed reciprocity (assumed reciprocity) of attraction and the accuracy with which individuals can estimate their popularity (meta-accuracy). In a first study, the significance of situational factors of the first encounter on friendship development could be demonstrated (Back, Schmukle & Egloff, 2008).

 

Publications:

  • Back, M. D., Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2008). Becoming friends by chance. Psychological Science, 19, 439-440.
  • Back, M. D., Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2010). Why are narcissists so charming at first sight? Decoding the narcissism-popularity link at zero acquaintance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 132-145.
  • Back, M. D., Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2011). A closer look at first sight: Social relations lens model analysis of personality and interpersonal attraction at zero acquaintance. European Journal of Personality, 25, 225-238.

Social behaviors in real life situations are influenced by both controlled and impulsive processes (Strack & Deutsch, 2004). The typical action of controlled processes should be reflected in explicit representations of the self, which can be assessed by means of direct personality tests (questionnaires). In contrast, the typical functioning of impulsive processes should be reflected in implicit representations of the self, which can be measured by means of indirect procedures. The development of indirect personality tests to measure implicit representations of the self is therefore associated with the hope of improving the prediction of relevant behavior.

In this project, an Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz, 1998) was developed to measure five key personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness). In a first phase of the project, the psychometric prerequisites and the self-reliance of this Big Five-IAT were tested. The following key findings were obtained: (1) the five-factor structure established for the domain of direct personality tests could also be confirmed for implicit representations of self-image. (2) The Big Five-IAT we developed showed good internal consistency for all dimensions. In contrast, two different adaptations of the Extrinsic Affective Simon Task showed only maximal moderate internal consistencies. (3) Despite similar intercorrelations of the five dimensions, the indirect measures proved to be largely independent of explicit procedures.

A second project phase aimed at validating the new procedure. In particular, it was to be examined to what extent the Big Five-IAT can predict variance in relevant behavioral criteria in addition to direct procedures. To this end, self-reported everyday behaviors were first collected. An extensive behavioral study was then conducted in which a number of real behaviors assigned a priori to the individual Big Five dimensions were recorded and aggregated into relevant behavioral criteria. These validation studies yielded the following additional results: (4) Direct procedures predicted the aggregated behavioral criteria for each of the Big Five dimensions. (5) Indirect procedures measuring neuroticism and extraversion also predicted the behavioral criteria. (6) The predictive validity of these indirect procedures remained even when controlling for the direct procedures, thus proved to be incremental.

The results are consistent with a separate personality-oriented development of two-process models of social cognition and social behavior and demonstrate that implicit personality measures can substantially improve the prediction of relevant social behavior.


Publications:

  • Back, M. D., Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2009). Predicting actual behavior from the explicit and implicit self-concept of personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 533-548.
  • Schmukle, S. C., Back, M. D. & Egloff, B. (2008). Validity of the five-factor model for the implicit self-concept of personality. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 24, 263-272.
  • Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2006). Assessing anxiety with Extrinsic Simon Tasks. Experimental Psychology, 53, 149-160.

Questionnaire procedures, which enjoy great popularity as a direct approach to the recording of personality traits, are subject to some error factors (intentional misrepresentation, response styles) which may limit their usefulness in some contexts. Moreover, an argument in favor of supplementing explicit self-reports with so-called implicit measures is that human information processing involves not only explicit (conscious) processes, but also implicit (automatic) processes that are thought to determine a range of behaviors, especially spontaneous ones. The Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz, 1998) was introduced as a reaction-time-based procedure for the implicit measurement of traits that promises potential for personality psychology and psychological diagnostics.

In this project, an IAT adapted to measure anxiety was developed and evaluated. The following key findings were obtained: (1) The IAT Anxiousness exhibits high internal consistency and moderate temporal stability (longest time interval studied: 1 year). (2) This discrepancy between internal consistency and stability cannot be explained by variations in state anxiety. (3) The IAT anxiety has a significantly lower falsifiability than questionnaire procedures. However, it cannot be concluded that the IAT is generally unfalsifiable. (4) The IAT predicts spontaneous behaviors both during a speech situation and after negative feedback that cannot be predicted by questionnaire procedures. These findings are consistent with two-process models of social cognition. Overall, the IAT represents a very interesting and promising indirect method for assessing personality traits, although it should not yet be used in individual diagnostics.


Publications:

  • Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2002). Predictive validity of an Implicit Association Test for assessing anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1441-1455.
  • Egloff, B., Schwerdtfeger, A. & Schmukle, S. C. (2005). Temporal stability of the Implicit Association Test-Anxiety. Journal of Personality Assessment, 84, 82-88.
  • Gamer, J., Schmukle, S. C., Luka-Krausgrill, U. & Egloff, B. (2008). Examining the dynamics of the implicit and the explicit self-concept in social anxiety: Changes in the Implicit Association Test-Anxiety and the Social Phobia Anxiety Inventory following treatment. Journal of Personality Assessment, 90, 476-480.
  • Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2004). Does the Implicit Association Test for assessing anxiety measure trait and state variance? European Journal of Personality, 18, 483-494.
  • Schmukle, S. C. & Egloff, B. (2005). A latent state-trait analysis of implicit and explicit personality measures. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21, 100-107.

Further Projects

In this project, we examined the question of whether birth order influences personality in several studies with data from different countries. We could not find any evidence for such an effect in our studies.


Publications:

  • Rohrer, J. M., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2017). Probing birth-order effects on narrow traits using specification curve analysis. Psychological Science, 28, 1821–1832.
  • Rohrer, J. M., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2015). Examining the effects of birth order on personality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 112, 14224–14229 Commentary on this article by Damian, R. I. & Roberts, B. W. (2015). Settling the debate on birth order and personality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 112, 14119–14120.
  • Botzet, L. J., Rohrer, J. M., & Arslan, R. C. (2020). Analysing Effects of Birth Order on Intelligence, Educational Attainment, Big Five, and Risk Aversion in an Indonesian Sample. European Journal of Personality. 


In this project, we examined the negative effects of higher social class and/or higher income on prosocial behavior reported by Piff and Keltner in various publications (see, e.g., Piff, P.K., Kraus, M.W., Côté, S., Cheng, B.H., & Keltner, D., 2010: Having less, giving more: The influence ofsocial class on prosocial behavior. J Pers Soc Psychol, 99, 771-784). We were unable to replicate this effect in various studies and analyses. This was also true for the modification of this effect that it only occurs in states with high economic inequality which was postulated later (see Côté, S., House, J., & Willer, R., 2015: High economic inequality leads higher-income individuals to be less generous. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112:15838-15843). We were also unable to replicate this moderation effect.


Publications:

  • Korndörfer, M., Egloff, B. & Schmukle, S. C. (2015). A large scale test of the effect of social class on prosocial behavior. PLOS ONE, 10, e0133193.
  • Schmukle S. C., Korndörfer, M., & Egloff, B. (2019). No evidence that economic inequality moderates the effect of income on generosity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 116, 9790-9795.
  • Schmukle S. C. & Egloff, B. (2020). New replication attempts provide no evidence that inequality moderates the effect of income on generosity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 117(16), 8698-8699. doi:10.1073/pnas.2000311117.
  • In cooperation with the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)
  • Supported by a scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation from 11/2010 — 09/2011
  • Scholarship holder: Prof. Dr. Jule Specht

 

The Socio-economic Panel (SOEP) is an annual repeat survey of private households in Germany conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) since 1984. The sample comprises about 11,000 representatively selected households with more than 20,000 persons. Topics covered include household composition, employment and family biographies, labor force participation and occupational mobility, income trajectories, health and life satisfaction. In 2005 and 2009, the Big Five personality dimensions were also surveyed. Based on the data from this panel, we examine developmental trajectories of personality.


Publications:

  • Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2013). Everything under control? The effects of age, gender, and education on trajectories of perceived control in a nationally representative German sample. Developmental Psychology, 49, 353-364.
  • Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2013). Examining mechanisms of personality maturation: The impact of life satisfaction on the development of the Big Five personality traits. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 181-189
  • Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2011). Stability and change of personality across the life course: The impact of age and major life events on mean-level and rank-order stability of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 862-882.
  • Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2011). The benefits of believing in chance or fate: External locus of control as a protective factor for coping with the death of a spouse. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 132-137.

In this project statistical software packages for analyses based on the Social Relations Model (Kenny, 1994) are developed. This model allows the separation of interpersonal variables (such as liking parts) into actor or perceiver effects (how much does A like other people in general), partner or target effects (how much is B liked in general), and relationship effects (how much does A specifically like B). Based on this separation, the variance proportions of the different effects are calculated. In addition, univariate and bivariate associations between the different effects can be calculated.

Software packages for the statistical program R are developed for two different basic designs: In the round-robin design, each person interacts with every other person (e.g., gives a sympathy piece about every other person in the group and is rated on sympathy by every other person in the group), whereas in the full-block design, people in one group interact with every member of another group (e.g., give and receive a sympathy piece). These software developments are applied exemplarily for the analysis of assessments of interpersonal attraction (round-robin design) and for the analysis of speed-dating data (block design).


Publications:

  • Schoenbrodt, F.D. & Back, M.D. & Schmukle, S.C. (2013). Triple R: A package for round robin analyses using R (Version 1.2.1). Freely available via http://www.persoc.net and http://www.r-project.org.
  • Schönbrodt, F. D., Back, M. D., & Schmukle, S. C. (2012). TripleR: An R package for social relations analyses based on round robin designs. Behavior Research Methods, 44455-470.

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