Main Content

Research in AE Psychological Diagnostics

Research focus

Our research can be classified into the following six main areas:

1. Conditional Reasoning

*no english translation available

Conditional Reasoning ist ein innovatives Testverfahren zur indirekten Erfassung von Aggression. Eine solche indirekte Erfassung ist wichtig, da Menschen bei sozial sensitiven Themen wie Aggression häufig keine ehrlichen Antworten geben wollen oder können, wenn sie direkt (z.B. mithilfe von Fragebögen) befragt werden. Die indirekte Erfassung von Aggression bei Conditional Reasoning Tests erfolgt über spezielle Aufgaben, mit denen man implizite kognitive Biases (d.h. Verzerrungen im Denkmuster, die den Personen nicht bewusst sind) messen kann. Im Rahmen von Abschlussarbeiten und Forschungspraktika ist es möglich, sich inhaltlich und/oder methodisch mit bestehenden Conditional Reasoning Tests zu beschäftigen oder diese für zusätzliche Aspekte von Aggression oder anderen Konstrukten weiterzuentwickeln.


James, L. R., & LeBreton, J. M. (2010). Assessing aggression using conditional reasoning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(1), 30-35.

Project management:

2. The role of contextual factors in the maintenance of political stereotypes

This research project is part of the RTG 2271 “Breaking Expectations” and explores the social-cognitive mechanisms underlying the persistence of stereotype-based expectations in the face of expectation violations.

Expectations about social groups are often used to predict and interpret others’ behavior. Interestingly, observing expectation-violating (i.e., stereotype-incongruent) behavior only rarely changes the expectations about the social group of the observed individual. Instead, expectations are maintained by, for example, explaining the incongruent event through the particularities of the context in which it occurred. This project takes a closer look at the role of such contextual factors. Previous research suggests that expectation-violating information disrupts information processing fluency and, given sufficient cognitive resources, shifts attention to the context (Huang & Sherman, 2018; Sherman et al., 2005). As a result, contextual information is more likely to be integrated into information processing when it occurs in is encountered together with stereotype-incongruent rather than stereotype-congruent events. Moreover, incongruent information is more likely to be attributed externally than congruent information, which is more likely to be attributed internally and dispositionally (Sherman et al., 2005; Sekaquaptewa et al., 2003), contributing to the maintenance of stereotypes. In contrast, generalization to the social group and thus a change in the stereotype could be achieved by decontextualizing the incongruent information (Gawronski et al., 2018).

Particularly in the intergroup context, for example when it comes to the perception and evaluation of political groups, motivational factors may also contribute to the maintenance of group stereotypes. One's political opinion, for example, may further promote the need for positive ingroup differentiation, thereby additionally affecting the contextualization of incongruent information. This project therefore aims to extend the understanding of contextualization mechanisms and to identify motivational and cognitive influencing factors that moderate the degree of contextual processing of stereotype-incongruent information.


Gawronski, B., Rydell, R. J., De Houwer, J., Brannon, S. M., Ye, Y., Vervliet, B., & Hu, X. (2018). Contextualized Attitude Change. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 57, pp. 1–52). Elsevier.

Huang, L. M., & Sherman, J. W. (2018). Attentional Processes in Social Perception. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 58, pp. 199–241). Elsevier. 

Sekaquaptewa, D., Espinoza, P., Thompson, M., Vargas, P., & von Hippel, W. (2003). Stereotypic explanatory bias: Implicit stereotyping as a predictor of discrimination. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39(1), 75-82. 

Sherman, J. W., Stroessner, S. J., Conrey, F. R., & Azam, O. A. (2005). Prejudice and Stereotype Maintenance Processes: Attention, Attribution, and Individuation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(4), 607–622.

Project management:

3. Indirect Measures of prejudice

Favoring the ingroup over the outgroup—as for instance people sharing the same ethnicity—is a basic human phenomenon. Since outgroup prejudice can have grave consequences on the individual as well as on the societal level, researchers have long been interested in measuring negative evaluations and adverse affective reactions toward members of outgroups and specifically immigrants and have developed a variety of different instruments using different measurement approaches (e.g., Gawronski & Hahn, 2019).

As a reaction to the concern that people might not want to share prejudiced attitudes or might not be aware of them, indirect measures emerged, measuring attitudes indirectly without relying on self-report. Naturally, any claim that these alternative measurement procedures are well-suited to complement self-report measures has to be assessed empirically. We currently focus our evaluations on two such measures, the Evaluative Priming Task (EPT; Fazio et al., 1995) and the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP; Payne et al., 2005). In the EPT, a so-called prime stimulus (e.g., a portrait of a Turkish or a German person) displayed on a computer screen is quickly succeeded by an evaluatively polarized, so-called target stimulus (e.g., a positive or negative word). In the AMP, the prime is instead followed by a neutral target (traditionally a Chinese symbol). In both measures, the participants’ evaluation of the prime is expected to influence their response to the target, thereby allowing to indirectly measure the attitude toward the prime.

In our assessment of the suitability of these measures, we consider a broad range of validity dimensions: We examine the theoretical assumptions behind these measures (e.g.: How much control can participants exert on the measurement outcome? How are basic cognitive processes -such as categorization- reflected in the measurement outcome?), their susceptibility to changes in procedural conditions (e.g.: To what extent is the measurement outcome dependent on the exact nature of the primes representing the construct of interest? How about the exact nature of the targets or how long participants are allowed to respond to them?), and their general psychometric properties (e.g.: How reliable is their measurement outcome? How much evidence is there for their validity in measuring prejudice?).


Fazio, R. H., Jackson, J. R., Dunton, B. C., & Williams, C. J. (1995). Variability in automatic activation as an unobtrusive measure of racial attitudes: A bona fide pipeline? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 1013–1027.

Gawronski, B., & Hahn, A. (2019). Implicit measures: Procedures, use, and interpretation. In H. Blanton, J. M. LaCroix, & G. D. Webster (Eds.), Measurement in social psychology (pp.29–55). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Payne, B. K., Cheng, C. M., Govorun, O., & Stewart, B. (2005). An inkblot for attitudes: Affect misattribution as implicit measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 277-293.

Project management:

4. Norm acceptance, norm sensitivity and deviant behavior

A project to examine the relationship between acceptance and sensitivity to social/legal norms and criminal behavior is currently underway.


Hermann, D. (2003). Werte und Kriminalität: Konzeption einer allgemeinen Kriminalitätstheorie. Westdeutscher Verlag.

Wikström, P.-O. H. (2004). Crime as alternative: Towards a cross-level situational action theory of crime causation. In J. McCord (Hrsg.), Beyond empiricism: Institutions and intentions in the study of crime (S. 1-37). Transaction.

Wikström, P-O H., Oberwittler, D., Treiber, K., & Hardie, B. (2012). Breaking rules: The social and situational dynamics of young people's urban crime. Oxford University Press

Rest, J. (1986). Ein interdisziplinärer Ansatz zur Moralerziehung und ein Vierkomponenten-Modell der Entstehung moralischer Handlungen. In F. Oser, W. Althof & D. Garz (Hrsg.), Moralische Zugänge zum Menschen – Zugänge zum moralischen Menschen (S. 20-41). Peter Kindt Verlag.

Project management:

5. Test development

One research focus of the working unit Psychological Diagnostics is the development of test measures. Currently, three concentration tests are being developed, revised and validated. These are

(1) a computer-based concentration test for the age of children, based on the concentration test for children (KoKi, Schmidt-Atzert & Funsch, with the collaboration of Arias Martín, 2023). This test, based on the d2-R, measures short-term concentration performance. In contrast to other tests, this test measures distractibility as well.

(2) a computer-based concentration test for the age of adults, based on the Differential Concentration Test for Children (DKT-K, Funsch & Arias Martín, 2017), which measures long-term concentration performance using four different scales. These scales place different demands on the perception and further processing of information, whereby differentiated statements about attention and concentration performance can be made.

(3) the Attention and Concentration Test (d2-R, Brickenkamp, R., Schmidt-Atzert, L., Liepmann, D. 2010), which is currently being revised and renormalized (Schmidt-Atzert, Arias Martín & Brickenkamp, in progress).


Schmidt-Atzert, L. & Funsch, K., unter Mitarbeit: Arias Martín, B. (2023) Konzentrationstest für Kinder (KOKI). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Funsch, K. & Arias Martín, B. (2017). Differentieller Konzentrationstest für Kinder (DKT-K). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Brickenkamp, R., Schmidt-Atzert, L., Liepmann, D. (2010). Aufmerksamkeits- und Konzentrationstest d2-R (9. überarb. Aufl.). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Schmidt-Atzert, L., Krumm, S. & Bühner, M. (2008). Aufmerksamkeitsdiagnostik – Ableitung eines Strukturmodells und systematische Einordnung von Tests. Zeitschrift für Neuropsychologie, 19(2), 59-82.

Project management:

6. Wie Normalität, Moral und Defensivität Rassismusurteile formen

*no english translation available

Menschen, die sich beruflich mit Rassismus beschäftigen, sind sich genauso uneins wie der Rest der Bevölkerung darüber, welche Verhaltensweisen man nun als rassistisch oder eben nicht rassistisch bezeichnen soll. Historisch lag der Fokus von Rassismusdebatten häufig in der Prävention besonders schädlicher Intergruppenverhaltensweisen. Heutzutage ist eine weitere Perspektive in den Mittelpunkt dieser Debatte geraten, die den Schwerpunkt eher auf subtilere Verhaltensweisen lenkt, die im Aggregat aber möglicherweise eine ähnlich schwerwiegende schädliche Wirkung erzielen. Diese Entwicklung hat zur Folge, dass unterschiedliche Individuen oder soziale Gruppen möglicherweise in Diskussionen über Rassismus nicht an die gleichen Verhaltensweisen denken (vgl. Sommers & Norton, 2006). Gleichzeitig wird weißen Menschen attestiert, defensiv zu reagieren, wenn ihre Verhaltensweisen im Intergruppenkontext kritisiert werden.

Diese Debatten könnten möglicherweise vom Einbezug klassischer Normalitätstheorien profitieren, welche eine Beziehung zwischen der wahrgenommenen Allgegenwärtigkeit einer Verhaltensweise und derer moralischer Bewertung postulieren (z.B. Monroe et al., 2018). In diesem Projekt untersuchen wir das Verhältnis von moralischen Urteilen, Rassismusurteilen und Allgegenwärtigkeitsurteilen, um in einem zweiten Schritt die Beziehung zwischen der Breite des Rassismuskonzepts von Proband:innen und deren Gewilltheit, sich eigener rassistischer Tendenzen zu stellen zu verstehen. Im angewandteren Teil dieses Projekts über die normativen Grundlagen von Rassismsurteilen überprüfen wir deren Kontextualisierung: Beziehen Proband:innen in ihren Urteilen bspw. mit ein, dass ältere Menschen mit ganz anderen Normen hinsichtlich des Intergruppenverhaltens aufgewachsen sind?

Im besten Fall versetzen uns die im Projekt gesammelten Befunde in die Lage, Interventionen zur Verbesserung von Intergruppenkommunikation und zur Reduktion defensiver Reaktionen auf Kritik am eigenen Intergruppenverhalten zu entwickeln.


Monroe, A. E., Dillon, K. D., Guglielmo, S., & Baumeister, R. F. (2018). It’s not what you do, but what everyone else does: On the role of descriptive norms and subjectivism in moral judgment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 77, 1–10.

Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2006). Lay Theories About White Racists: What Constitutes Racism (and What Doesn’t). Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 9, 117–138.

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Our laboratories

Laboratories at two central locations in Marburg are available for conducting our studies.