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Psychology Research Institute

Psychology research lines within ABC

The Institute

The Psychology Research Institute within the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) is strongly oriented towards a basic empirical approach of the major themes in psychology. Research is predominantly focused on theoretical, mechanistic explanations of normal and abnormal human behaviour, although on a smaller scale most research programs also address issues in more applied contexts. One of the consequences of this research orientation is a substantial investment in adequate methodological and technical facilities, and maintaining and upgrading the extensive laboratory infrastructure of the Institute. This up-to-date infrastructure attracts other research groups, inside and outside of the Institute. In this way, intra- and interdisciplinary cross-links already have been established and still are developing between the Psychology Research Institute and research groups in the fields of (neuro-) biology, medicine, environmental sciences and mathematics.

Website Psychology Research Institute

Brain and cognition

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Victor Lamme and Prof. dr. Jeroen Raaijmakers

Subject: The overall objective of this programme is to obtain a better understanding of the nature of human cognitive functions and their neural bases. The present program differs from most other such programs (at least in the Netherlands) in its strong emphasis on theory development and the attempt to base explanations for cognitive phenomena on neurobiological principles. The first distinguishing aspect is best illustrated by the work on human memory where mathematical and simulation models are used to get a better understanding of the implications and explanatory power of basic theoretical principles (see Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 2002, for more details). The second aspect may be illustrated by the work of Lamme on the role of recurrent (feedback) processes in the visual cortex and its relation to perception, attention and consciousness.

Key publications:

  • Lamme, V. A. F. (2003). Why visual attention and awareness are different. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 12-18.
  • Zeelenberg, R., Wagenmakers, E. J. M. & Raaijmakers, J. G. W. (2002). Priming in implicit memory tasks: Prior study causes enhanced discriminability, not only bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 131, 38-47.
  • Meeter, M., & Murre, J.M.J. (2004). Consolidation of long-term memory: Evidence and alternatives. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 843-857.

Cognitive development

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Maurits van der Molen and Prof. dr. Han van der Maas

Subject: The major focus of the program is on cognitive development at both ends of the lifespan - cognitive changes during childhood and senescence. Although the primary focus is on cognitive development, secondary questions relate to the age-related changes in the interaction between cognition and affect and to cognitive deficits that may occur when development goes astray or to deficits that are associated with cognitive decline. In studying cognitive development, multiple methods are used ranging from the experimental analysis of performance (mostly speeded responses and accuracy measures), non-invasive measurements of the central and autonomic nervous system (respectively, EEG, MEG, brain potentials, and heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, eye-movements, electromyographic activity), formal modeling and dedicated statistical analysis (respectively, neural networks, catastrophe modeling, Markov modeling, and latent class analysis, source analysis of brain potentials).

Key publications:

  • Nieuwenhuis, S., Ridderinkhof, K. R., Talsma, D., Coles, M. G. H., Holroyd, C., Kok, A., & van der Molen, M. W. (2002). A computational account of altered error processing in older age: Dopamine and the error-related negativity. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 2, 19-36.
  • Raijmakers, M. E. J., Jansen, B. R. J., & van der Maas, H. L. J. (2004). Rules and development in triad classification task performance. Developmental Review, 24, 289-321.
  • de Munck, J. C. de, Huizenga, H. M., Waldorp, L. J., & Heethaar, R. M. (2002). Estimating stationary dipoles from MEG/EEG data contaminated with spatially and temporary correlated background noise. IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, 50, 1565-1572.

Modelling and measuring psychological processes

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Han van der Maas

Subject: Most psychological processes cannot be observed directly. Examples include a child's ability on a math test, a student's reluctance to commit errors in a speeded two-choice task, and an Alzheimer patient's failure to store information in memory. Even though we cannot observe such processes directly, we can measure them indirectly by applying to the data an appropriate statistical/cognitive model. Formal modelling allows us to quantify the child's ability through an item-response model, the student's ability through a diffusion model, and the patient's failure through a multinomial processing tree model. Researchers in the Psychological Methods group believe that formal modelling is essential for a proper understanding of human thought and human behaviour; therefore, their general goal is to develop, test, apply, and disseminate statistical and cognitive models for latent psychological processes.

Key publications:

  • Matzke, D. & Wagenmakers, E.-J. (in press). Psychological interpretation of ex-Gaussian and shifted Wald parameters: A diffusion model analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
  • van der Maas, H.L.J., Dolan, C.V., Grasman, R.P.P.P., Wicherts, J.M., Huizenga, H.M. & Raijmakers, M.E.J. (2006). A dynamical model of general intelligence: The positive manifold of intelligence by mutualism. Psychological Review, 113, 842-861.
  • van der Maas, H.L.J. & Wagenmakers, E.-J. (2005). A psychometric analysis of chess expertise. The American Journal of Psychology, 118, 29-60.

Social cognition, emotion and identity

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Agneta Fischer, Prof. dr. Gerben van Kleef, Prof. dr. Bertjan Doosje 

Subject: The overall objective of this research programme is to conduct empirical (and typically experimental) research that advances theoretical knowledge about the antecedents and consequences of human social behavior. A first line of research focuses on the interplay between affective and more cognitive factors in attitudes and decision making. A second line focuses on the cognitive and social aspects of emotion. A final line concerns the interplay between cognition and motivational processes.

Key publications:

  • Fischer, A.H. & Roseman, I.J. (2007). Beat them or ban them: The characteristics and social functions of anger and contempt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 103-115.
  • Forster, J., Liberman, N. & Kuschel, S. (2008). The effect of global versus local processing styles on assimilation versus contrast in social judgement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 579-599.
  • van Harreveld, F., van der Pligt, J. & De Liver, Y. (2009). The agony of ambivalence and ways to resolve it: Introducing the MAID. Personality and Social Psychology Review, in press.

Psychological dysfunction and health

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Paul Emmelkamp , Prof. dr. Merel Kindt , and Prof. dr. Pier Prins

Subject: The mission of the clinical psychology research programme is the development of theoretical models to understand the aetiology and maintenance of psychiatric disorders and of issues in health psychology and to develop theory-based interventions. Our research programme focuses on two types of experimental studies, both of which will be continued by our group: (1) Experimental studies aimed at isolating psychological mechanisms or processes that are involved in the maintenance or cause of the disorder, and (2) Experimental studies aimed at reducing psychopathology by specific and well-controlled psychological (or pharmacological) interventions.

Key publications:

  • Emmelkamp, P. M.G., Krijn, M., Hulsbosch, A. M., de Vries, S., Schuemie, M. J., van der Mast, C. A. P. G. (2002). Virtual reality treatment versus exposure in vivo: a comparative evaluation in acrophobia. Behaviour Research And Therapy 40, 509-516.
  • van Manen, T. G., Prins, P. J. M. , Emmelkamp, P. M. G. (2004). Reducing aggressive behavior in boys with a social cognitive group treatment: Results of a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 43, 1478-1487.
  • van Stegeren, A. H., Everaerd, W., Cahill, L., McGaugh, J. L., Gooren, L. J. G. (1998). Memory for emotional events: differential effects of centrally versus peripherally acting beta-blocking agents. Psychopharmacology 138: 305-310.

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Carsten de Dreu

Subject: The mission of the research programme is to advance theoretically meaningful, empirically robust and practically useful knowledge about work-related functioning of individuals and groups in organisations. The programme comprises two interrelated lines of research: (a) Group processes and performance concerns the interpersonal and group processes in organizations. It includes research on team functioning and performance, conflict and social decision making, power and influence, and group creativity and innovation. (b) Individual processes and performance concerns the study of individual differences and selection and assessment practices and its consequences for performance and health.

Key publications:

  • de Dreu, C. K. W., & Carnevale, P. J. D. (2003). Motivational bases of information processing and strategy in conflict and negotiation. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (vol. 35, pp. 235 - 291). New York: Academic Press.
  • van Knippenberg, D., de Dreu, C. K. W., & Homan, A. C. (2004). Work group diversity and group performance: An integrative model and research agenda. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 1008-1022.
  • van Vianen, A. E. M., de Pater, I. E., Kristof Brown, A. L., & Johnson, E. C. (2004). Fitting in: Surface- and deep-level cultural differences and expatriates' adjustment. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 697-709.