Our research

Our research interests

Our research focuses on the processes of adaptation that accompany ageing and on possibilities to favourably influence these processes. In this context, we see humans as individuals actively shaping their own development and, thus, focus on motivational processes of development in research. In general, we try to answer the question how humans can shape their development up to old age through the efficient use of changing resources. At the same time, we investigate the role that the social environment plays in all these processes. 

Our methods

The methods we apply range from self-reports and observer reports to observations (eye tracking, EAR, measurement of reaction times, behavioural observations, quantitative text analyses) and physiological measurements. We use correlative (cross-sectional and longitudinal) and experimental study designs.

Current publications

(here you can find all the publications of the members of our research unit)

Nikitin, J., Rupprecht, F. S., & Ristl, C. (2022). Experiences of solitude in adulthood and old age. The role of autonomy. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 1-10. doi.org/10.1177/01650254221117498



Recent evidence suggests that older adults experience momentary states of spending time alone (i.e., solitude) less negatively than younger adults. The current research explores the role of autonomy as an explanation mechanism of these age differences. Previous research demonstrated that solitude can be experienced positively when it is characterized by autonomy (i.e., the own wish or decision to be alone). As older adults are relatively more autonomous in their daily lives, they might experience solitude less negatively (in terms of subjective well-being, social integration, self-esteem, and valence) than younger adults. We tested this hypothesis in three studies. In two experience-sampling studies (Study 1: N = 129, 59.7% women, age 19–88 years; Study 2: N = 115, 66.4% women, age 18–85 years), older age and higher autonomy were associated with more positive experience of everyday solitude moments. Although autonomy did not differ between younger and older adults, perceived (lack of) autonomy partly played a more important role for the experience of solitude moments in younger adults compared to older adults. Finally, Study 3 (N = 323, 52% women, age 19–79 years) showed that the relationship between recalled solitude moments of high versus low autonomy and solitude experience is fully explained by feelings of autonomy. Overall, our results demonstrate that older people do not experience more autonomy in situations of solitude than younger adults, but that they partly better cope with low-autonomy solitude. However, people of all ages seem to benefit more from high-autonomy moments of solitude.

News from the world of research

In our section “News from the world of research”, you can find abstracts of latest specialist literature on interesting research findings in the field of psychology.