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.
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.
Human behaviour is shaped to a large extent by how people perceive and think about each other. We seek to unravel the mechanisms of social perception and social information processing that constitute social cognition and that shape the development of stereotypes, prejudice, and social behaviour.
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.
As an ultra-social species, humans spend much of their lives in various types of groups, both in their private lives and at work. Several streams of research in our group address how individuals navigate interactions within and between groups.
In today's complex and uncertain world, we face crises such as war, rapid immigration, natural disasters, and environmental problems. Our research on behavioural and social influence is about how people react to and cope with complex societal problems, who is helping and under what conditions, and how psychological findings can be shared with organizations and governments to mitigate societal problems.