Post-doctoral position at GESIS

As of 01.02.21, I am a post-doctoral researcher in Team Social Survey at GESIS-Mannehim.

GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences “is the largest German infrastructure institute for the social sciences. It is headquartered in Mannheim, with a location in Cologne. With basic research-based services and consulting covering all levels of the scientific process, GESIS supports researchers in the social sciences.” (quote from the Wikipedia page)

I am joining the Team Social Surveys lead by Dr. Oshrat Hochman, and my main task is to contribute to the development and monitoring of the German General Social Survey (also known as ALLBUS). In addition, I will continue all my ongoing projects.

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Associate Editor at ORPC

Starting on 01.21, I am joining the editorial team at Online Readings in Psychology and Culture.

Online Readings in Psychology and Culture ORPC is a golden access journal, meaning it does not charge authors nor readers for its contents. It is one of the journals of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology IACCP, the other journal being JCCP.

The main goal of ORPC is to provide quality content (resources) for researchers, teachers and practitioners as well as the general public on a wide range of topics at the intersection of psychology and cross-cultural topics. What sets the journal apart from the JCCP or other established outlets is the philosophy behind it-that of focusing on providing overviews on specific topics, rather than “hard-core” empirically-driven articles. This way, the aim is to open scientific knowledge to new populations.

This being said, please have a look at the ORPC inspiring collection of publications.

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Visiting scholar at Jacobs University

New status, next stage in research and teaching.

As of 1.12.2020 I continue my academic career as a visiting scholar to Prof. Klaus Boehnke, at the department of Psychology and Methdos of Jacobs University Bremen.

Prof. Boehnke is past president of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology-IACCP-and generally researchers on social cohesion, values, and developmental topics, among others.

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Preprint at PsyArXiv

Index towards more accurate theoretical predictions in view of available data.

In this paper, we (EH Witte, F Zenker and myself) argue for better ways to evaluate theoretical predictions in research, and become more aware of limitations of effect size measures (Cohen’s d).

We argue for a direct evaluation of a theorized (expected) effect against the empirical (observed) effect. When the ratio between the two is apprx. 1 only then can we be certain that our prediction is adequate in view of data. Here, we introduce the Similarity Index (ISIM) as one way to evaluate this (see formula 1).

\[ I_{SIM} = \frac{|m_{theo} - m_0|}{|m_1 - m_0|} \]


\(m_{theo}\): the theoretically predicted mean;

\(m_1\): the empirically observed mean in the experimental group;

\(m_0\): the empirically observed mean in the control group.

Based on simulation studies (see Rmarkdown here), we develop a similarity interval that can be used as a guideline for the decision a) whether to adjust the theoretical prediction, b) increase the sample size, or c) consider as impractical the expected effect.

Several applications to existent findings in (Social) Psychology are provided. Likewise, we provide a step-by-step guide that researchers can use in immediately applying the Similiarity Index in their work, and also ways of interpreting its coefficients.

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Publication at Ageing & Society

Values of self-transcendence provide motivational force toward the suppression of ageism in young adults.

For this publication I use data of the 4th round of the European Social Survey-ESS- and the 6th round of the World Value Survey-WVS- to examine whether value systems provide motivational force towards suppression or justification of old age ageism among young adults across countries. Study materials open access.

I argue that value preferences of young adults preced any threat perceptions and stereotypes towards older people and as a consequence they impact on young adults’ prejudice and discrimination against older people. Using a multilevel analytical approach, I tested complex mediation models at level-1 of analysis (see Figure 1) and hypothesized that (a) self-transcendence will impact indirectly and negatively ageism levels and (b) self-enhancement will impact indirectly and positively ageism levels.

Figure 1. Direct effects at level-1 for blatant (above) and subtle (below) ageism.

Findings show evidence across countries for the first hypothesis. Findings also indicate that in non-Western and collectivistic cultures self-enhancement might also contribute to the suppression of ageism in young adults.

The paper proposes a specific new way to combating ageism across cultures, one in which addressing value change in young adults might be more beneficial in the long term than solely focusing on the contact quantity and quality between younger and older members of society.

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Editorial board at JSPP

Fully open access journal. Publishes extensively from under-represented contexts.

Beginning with the winter-term 2020, I am joining for an initial term of three years the Editorial Board at the Journal of Social and Political Psychology (JSPP)!

JSPP is a fully open access journal that publishes at the intersection of social and political psychology, and it focuses on particularly encouraging an equitable representation of the varying research contexts and languages while offering a number of services, like the Buddy system which is meant to provide, among other, language assistance to non-native authors. JSPP accepts theoretical, review, and original articles as well as it publishes commentaries and action teaching reports.

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Publication at Frontiers in Psychology

The distribution approach to measuring culture-level values in Shalom Schwartz’s theory.

In this publication at Frontiers in Psychology–Cultural Psychology, we (EH Witte, K Boehnke, and myself) challenge the current state of the art in culture-level value research. We likewise suggest a re-conceptualization of cultural level values along an orthogonal structure defined by dimensions of Alteration/Preservation and Amenability/Dominance.

The paper is an empirically-driven article (uses two rounds of the European Social Survey ESS) that highlights shortcomings of the available approach of arriving at cultural level value preferences from individual level value preferences, the so-called averaging approach. The fictitious middle individual on which the averaging approach is based is, we argue, an improper empirical reproduction at the cultural level of the true value profiles of individuals of a country. As in scale construction, where one must demonstrate that scale-items reliably pertain to one common latent factor, so is the case in constructing a culture-level construct from individual-level observations – one needs to show that there is sufficient homogeneity between value profiles of people in a country before averaging over them to arrive at a culture-level concept. This, however, is not the case in practice. Moreover, we also know from past research that in some cases there are negative correlations between individual-level observations that are otherwise disregarded in the averaging approach. We propose the distribution approach as an alternative.

This method facilitates via an unfolding technique a direct reproduction at the cultural level of the individual level values. Observed value profiles of individual members of a country are compared against theoretical relations of value compatibility-incompatibility (circumplex value model unfolded as ideal value profiles, see Table 1), comparisons which subsequently serve to classify each case into one of eleven value classes, 10 as theorized by Shalom Schwartz and 1 as non-classified.

Table 1. Ideal value types based on the rank order of individual values

After a value class is assigned to each individual, we calculate frequencies of value classes in each country which are then transformed into rank-orders. Based on the rank-transfored distribution of value profiles we then perform Principal Component Analysis and extract as substantially meaningful two components – two ways in which value profiles of individuals organize collectively at the cultural level (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Depiction of culture-level value dimensions Alteration/Preservation (blue) and Amenability/Dominance (red).

Note. Numbers correspond to value rank order of importance. The stronger emphasized colors correspond to value typologies with a higher weight on the respective dimension. The weaker emphasized colors correspond to value typologies with a lower weight on the respective dimension. To arrive at the value structure of a culture, one requires the weights of the respective culture (factor loadings) on the two dimensions.

Finally, using these two newly found dimensions we can predict each country’s cultural-level value preferences from indices of societal challenges (education, religiosity, ethnic fractionalization, etc.) (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The Position of European Countries along Two Dimensions of Cultural Values as Informed by the Distribution Approach.

Note. Alteration/Preservation value rank order: (+) Universalism, Self-Direction, Benevolence, and Stimulation vs. Achievement, Security, Power, Hedonism, Traditionalism, and Conformity (‑); Amenability/Dominance reversed value rank order: (+) Self-Direction, Power, Achievement, Universalism, and Stimulation vs. Conformity, Traditionalism, Benevolence, Security, and Hedonism (-); 20 countries were available in both rounds of the ESS, namely: Belgium (BE), Switzerland (CH), Czech Republic (CZ), Germany (DE), Denmark (DK), Estonia (EE), Spain (ES), Finland (FI), France (FR), Great-Britain (GB), Hungary (HU), Israel (IL), Ireland (IE), Lithuania (LT), the Netherlands (NL), Norway (NO), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Sweden (SE), and Slovenia (SI), nine countries were available only in Round 6 of the ESS, namely: Albania (AL), Bulgaria (BG), Cyprus (CY), Iceland (IS), Italy (IT), Russian Federation (RU), Slovakia (SK), Ukraine (UA), and Kosovo (XK). One country was only available in Round 7 of the ESS, namely Austria (AT).

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Publication at Perspectives in Psychological Science

What motives do people prioritize in their social life?


What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly connected to relevant comparative and evolutionary work on other species, and in the case of kin care, these bonds have been less well researched. Examining varied sources of data from 27 societies around the world, we found that people generally view familial motives as primary in importance and mate-seeking motives as relatively low in importance. Compared with other groups, college students, single people, and men place relatively higher emphasis on mate seeking, but even those samples rated kin-care motives as more important. Furthermore, motives linked to long- term familial bonds are positively associated with psychological well-being, but mate-seeking motives are associated with anxiety and depression. We address theoretical and empirical reasons why there has been extensive research on mate seeking and why people prioritize goals related to long-term familial bonds over mating goals. Reallocating relatively greater research effort toward long-term familial relationships would likely yield many interesting new findings relevant to everyday people’s highest social priorities.

Article is open access available here.

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Publication at International Journal of Intercultural Relations

During processes of acculturating to their host countries Romanian immigrants modify their stereotypical beliefs regarding politicians.

Building on the theoretical framework and concept introduced in Stanciu and Vauclair (2018), in this paper we (CM Vauclair, N Rodda, and myself) test the stereotype accommodation hypothesis in samples of Romanian immigrants in Germany and France.


Through intercultural contact, immigrants can change the stereotypes they had previously held about the majority ethnic group in their host cultures. Other undocumented processes of socio-cognitive adaptation following migration are also possible; immigrants’ preexisting stereotypes about social groups (e.g., politicians, older people), for example, may change because of host-cultural learning. This article examines the stereotype accommodation hypothesis, which states that differences in cultural stereotypes between immigrants’ host and origin cultures are a source of inconsistent stereotype-relevant information that immigrants may or may not incorporate into their preexisting beliefs. Support for this hypothesis is found in two studies of locals in Romania, Germany, and France (N = 532), and Romanian immigrants in Germany and in France (N = 225). Length of stay in the host culture and acculturation orientation predict the stereotype accommodation regarding politicians, the only social group for which stereotypes substantially differ between origin and host cultures. The results represent the first step in a research agenda for studying migrants’ socio-cognitive adaptation beyond the question of inter-ethnic stereotype change. The article thus discusses future avenues for the study of behavior and discrimination from the perspective of immigrants as agentic individuals.

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Publication at Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology

Introduces the stereotype accommodation concept.

This article co-authored with CM Vauclair is a theoretical piece in which we introduce in the literature the concept of stereotype accommodation and a theoretical framework that can be used in its empirical testing.

We define stereotype accommodation as a cognitive process whereby migrants incorporate the stereotype-relevant information learned in their host cultures into their pre-existing stereotypes. To assist in its research, we likewise provide a theoretical framework of the effects due to cross-cultural differences, contextual factors, opportunities, as well as individual trait characteristics. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. A framework of the cross-cultural differences, learning opportunities, individual differences, and cognitive resources in the study of how disconfirming/novel stereotype-relevant information is incorporated toward stereotype accommodation.

Note. “P” stands for Proposition and it refers to in-text propositions.

Our main argument is that the existing work has only considered ways in which migrants’ perceptions about the ethnicity of country-natives (and vice versa, the perceptions of country-natives about the ethnicity of migrants) can change in the context of migration. But, as we know from the stereotype literature, such an approach addresses only one characteristic of a group or individual, namely the ethnicity. We propose that in the migration context individuals can also go through a process of cognitive heuristic adaptation. The core contribution of the article is therefore to provide means of studying the cognitive adaptation of migrants in a wider form, one that includes the study of perceptions of other’s ethnicity and of perceptions about other features that can be used to categorize people, such as gender and employment status.

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Postdoc at University of Vechta

As of 01.12.2017 I am joining the Gerontology deaprtment.

After my PhD and a brief part-time contract, I move forward with my research career at the Vechta University, Vechta, Germany, working as a post-doc (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) to prof. Maria Pavlova. The position is at the Institute of Gerontology.

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