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  • Department of Psychology

    © Universität Bielefeld

Research Focus

Research of the AE 03 - Devlopmental Psychology and Developmental Psychopathologie - currently focuses on:

  • Emotion regulation
  • Stress and coping
  • Development under adverse living conditions
  • Acculturation
  • Cross-informant discrepancies


Current Research Projects

Mental Health of Young Refugees: A Longitudinal Study across a Two-Year-Interval


Funded Applicants

Prof. Dr. Arnold Lohaus, Universität Bielefeld

Prof. Dr. Heike Eschenbeck, Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd

Research Associates

M.Sc. Hannah Nilles

M.Sc. Denise Kerkhoff

M.Sc. Usama El-Awad

Student Assistants

Akram Sadeghifar

Lorina Sezek

Funding

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Funding period: 04/2018- 03/2022


Within the frame of the Consortium YOURHEALTH project "Stress, Health and Integration of Young Refugees: Discovering the Interrelations and Improving Access to Healthcare" a sub - project will be carried out in cooperation with the University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd (Prof. Dr. Heike Eschenbeck). The main aim of this research project is to analyse the developmental trajectory of young refugees in their new environment after their arrival in Germany. The second aim is to identify risk factors and resources that support or impede adjustment processes.

Further information can be found here.

Stress reactivity and sleep in adolescents


Funded applicants

Prof. Dr. Arnold Lohaus, Universität Bielefeld

Prof. Dr. Angelika Schlarb, Universität Bielefeld

Research Associates

M.Sc. Maren-Jo Kater, Universität Bielefeld

M.Sc. Anika Werner, Universität Bielefeld

Student Assistants

Simon Tesch

Nathali Ochocki

Funding

Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Funding period: 11/2018- 11/2021


Many adolescents report sleep problems and sleep disorders. As a result, concentration difficulties, school problems, problems with emotion control, and daytime sleepiness might occur, which indicates the importance of the topic. Furthermore, the experience of stress is also related to sleep. Therefore, the project aims to investigate different stress parameters in adolescents with and without insomnia in order to investigate stress reactivity. Since sleep disorders often persist, the stability of different stress and sleep indicators over time will also be examined.

The project is divided into three measurement periods, with the first survey period scheduled to begin in April 2019. Around 200 young people and their families will be consulted in this context on sleep problems and various forms of stressors. Six months and twelve months later, the same people will be surveyed again. Adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 can participate.

Further Informations you can found here.

Empowering youth in care and preventing (re-)victimization


Funded Applicants

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Konrad, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen

Prof. Dr. Arnold Lohaus, Universität Bielefeld

Research Assistants

M.Sc. Ann-Katrin Wiemann, Universität Bielefeld

M.Sc. Anika Werner, Universität Bielefeld

Student Assistants

Leonie Hoerdler, B.Sc., Universität Bielefeld

Nils Depenbrock, M.Sc., Universität Bielefeld

Funding

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Funding period: 04/2019- 07/2022


Many children and adolescents placed in foster or adoption families have experienced bullying and violence or abuse. These early experiences can impair the mental health of these children and adolescents and increase the risk of a prospective (re-)victimization. The main purpose of the project EMPOWERYOU is to help foster and adoption families as well as the children and adolescents taken care of to cope with traumatic events, and to counteract the potential risk of future victimization.

The sub-project carried out in Bielefeld focuses on factors that could increase the risk of (re-)victimization experiences, with an emphasis on previous bullying experiences of the children and adolescents. The results obtained from this sub-project should provide a basis for future intervention programs, developed in other sub-projects of EMPOWERYOU.

Further information on this project can be found on our homepage.

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Process-oriented Emotion Regulation Measurement in Childhood and Adolescence


Project Management

Dr. Jana-Elisa Rüth, Universität Bielefeld

Prof. Dr. Arnold Lohaus, Universität Bielefeld

Student Assistants

Lena Döring, Universität Bielefeld

Sarah Kürten, Universität Bielefeld

Persons Involved

David Bernat, Lisa Cselenyi, Josephine Jonas, Allan Knoblach, Viktoria Sagemüller, Lea Tigges, Lea Westerheide


The appropriate handling of one's own emotions is a central developmental task in childhood and adolescence. Persisting problems in solving and dealing with this task can be a significant risk for social and emotional development. Since children do not yet have a mature and consolidated repertoire of emotion regulation strategies, they are particularly at risk for using inappropriate strategies. An early assessment of emotion regulation competencies is therefore important in order to detect and counteract possible deficits. In this context, self-reports are of great value, as children and adolescents are the most important observers of their own emotional world. Our research project "POEM-KJ - Process-oriented Emotion Regulation Measurement in Childhood and Adolescence" aims at developing a new questionnaire to assess emotion regulation of children and adolescents via self-report. Additionally, associations of emotion regulation with different aspects of healthy development (e.g., well-being, emotional problems, behavioral problems, prosocial behavior, emotional awareness, somatic complaints) will be investigated.

The surveys of children and adolescents in grades 3 to 10 will be realized in two subprojects: In subproject 1, a single survey of the students will be conducted during one school lesson. In subproject 2, the parents of all participating children and adolescents are also asked to fill out a questionnaire at home and return it to us by mail in reply-paid envelope. Furthermore, two assessments with students will be conducted in selected classes at school.

Further information on data protection and data processing as well as on the collected data can be found in the respective data protection sheet of the subproject:

Click here for the data protection sheet of subproject 1.

Click here for the data protection sheet of subproject 2.

Supervision

Prof. Dr. Arnold Lohaus, Universität Bielefeld

M.Sc. Anika Werner, Universität Bielefeld

Persons Involved

Kira Essing and Laura Koch


More and more infants show sleep problems or even sleep disorders. This can be particularly problematic in view of the fact that these problems often persist into adolescence. The children's ability to sooth themselves seems to play an important role in this. For this reason, final theses should bridge the gap between the child's sleep and the self-soothing behavior in infants. In addition, various parental factors are collected. The project is a continuation and extension of the study "Sleep in infancy and self-soothing behavior" conducted between November 2018 and April 2019. Parents of infants aged between 3 months and 3 years are to be interviewed again on the above-mentioned topics. The measurement and observation of sleep (e.g. via actigraphy and video recordings) is also part of the project.



Completed Research Projects

Development of a primary prevention program to improve the parent-child relationship and support the development of children at the age of 24 to 36 months.


This project aims at designing and developing a new group program to promote mental health in children, in order to meet the increasing need for prevention concepts and health promotion in the U-3 sector while addressing a broad range of parents. As a first step, a new program was developed for day care settings, which is now implemented in day care centres through the AOK. Currently, Joko, you and I is accommodated for individual prevention, in order to provide a program for U-3 parents outside of day care centres. In a next step, a new module for day-care workers will be developed and evaluated.

Explaining cross-informant discrepancies concerning internalizing and externalizing problematic behaviour of children and adolescents


When asking different people (e.g. children and their parents) to judge the problematic behaviour of a child, they often come to very different estimations. Notable differences between self-report and reports by others make it hard to integrate different perspectives and may lead to considerable problems in research and application (e.g. when determining prevalence rates of mental disorders or setting goals for therapy). Even if cross-informant discrepancies constitute one of the most stable effects in clinical research, not much is known about possible influencing factors. The research project eXid aims at identifying determinants of cross-informant discrepancies regarding internalising and externalising problematic behaviour, in order to help explain their origins. The underlying integrative framework, which combines approaches from Cognitive and Social Psychology (e.g. Attribution Bias Context Model, Social Relations Model), as well as Clinical Psychology (e.g. Depression Distortion Hypothesis) under developmental aspects, will be validated using a questionnaire-based approach. By combining cross-sectional and longitudinal data (cohort-sequential method) from children and adolescents from 5th to 9th grade, a broad dataset has already been gained in the first project phase (until 06/2016). Based on this data, essential content-related and methodological questions of the research project will be examined.

The foster family study GROW&TREAT focuses on the development of foster children who have experienced neglect and maltreatment. The study consists of two parts: a longitudinal study (GROW) and an intervention study (TREAT). Foster parents and their foster children as well as families and their children will be questioned. More information about the foster family study can be found at www.grow-and-treat.de.

Development of infants from families with different levels of adversity


The German Youth Institute (DJI) and the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), as supporter of the National Centre for Early Intervention (NZFH), were engaged to scientifically monitor the "Federal Initiative for Early Support and Family Midwifes 2012-2015" (Bundesinitiative Frühe Hilfen und Familienhebammen 2012-2015). An in-depth study (ESKAB) was conducted on the prevalence of psychosocial risks in families with infants in Germany, with a special focus on mechanisms and effects on the development of the infants. The objective of this study is to derive recommendations from the results for a permanent fund solution from 2016 on. This study examines the relation between familial developmental conditions, parental caring behaviour and the course of development of the child, by applying a longitudinal cohort design on families with children at the age of 0 to 3 years. The impact of familial risk factors on the development of the child can thereby affect different domains of development and can occur through different processes. It is therefore crucial to know the age specific mechanisms and mediating processes that make the familial risk become the risk of the child, to offer accurate intervention and prevention programs. In order to investigate these processes adequately, the development of different functional areas on the one hand as well as individual characteristics of children and parents and social support through parental behaviour on the other hand are examined.

Im Rahmen von mehreren aufeinanderfolgenden Studien sollten Auswirkungen von elektronischen Unterhaltungsmedien auf verschiedene psychologische und physiologische Faktoren bei Kindern und Jugendlichen untersucht werden.

Zunächst sollte es in einem ersten Schritt darum gehen, inwieweit der Umgang mit Fernsehen und Computerspielen bei Kindern und Jugendlichen zu Stress führt. Dieser wurde zum einen mittels objektiver physiologischer Parameter (Herzrate, Herzratenvariabilität, Cortisol, Alpha-Amylase) erfasst, zum anderen schätzten die Probanden ihr Empfinden und emotionales Erleben während der Beschäftigung mit den Medien subjektiv ein. Es wurde vermutet, dass es zwischen verschiedenen Medienarten (Computerspiele vs. Fernsehen) und Genres (emotionsinduzierend / gewalthaltig vs. neutral / nicht gewalthaltig) zu Differenzen hinsichtlich der physiologischen Aktivierung und des subjektiven Empfindens kommt. Es wurde systematisch untersucht, ob und in welchem Ausmaß diese Unterschiede tatsächlich auftreten. Des Weiteren sollte eine Überprüfung der Übereinstimmung der objektiven physiologischen Kennwerte und der subjektiven Angaben erfolgen.

In weiteren Studien sollten die Auswirkungen der mit dem Medienkonsum einhergehenden physiologischen und psychologischen Veränderungen auf kognitive Leistungen untersucht werden. Aus der bisherigen Forschung ist bekannt, dass sich Stress und emotionales Erleben auf Lernleistungen, Gedächtnisbildung und die Aufmerksamkeit auswirken können. Der Frage, ob auch die Beschäftigung mit Unterhaltungsmedien bei Kindern und Jugendlichen zu derartigen Veränderungen führen kann, und ob das Lernen und die Wissenskonsolidierung dadurch evtl. beeinträchtigt werden, soll in mehreren Untersuchungen nachgegangen werden.

This project aims at testing explanations for gender differences in reports of physical and psychological symptoms, which have been widely documented in the research literature. The focus of this study lies on children and adolescents. A different sensitivity in perception of stimuli as well as the gender role orientation (feminine vs. masculine), were considered as explanatory approaches. As part of the indicated symptoms in childhood and adolescence occur due to stress, primary and secondary appraisal processes were taken into account. It was anticipated, that the gender role orientation does not only show direct links to the symptom indication, but that also indirect effects are revealed, which demonstrate that perception sensitivity as well as primary and secondary appraisal are influenced by gender role orientation. The underlying theoretical model was validated through a sample of 1500 children and adolescents from grade 4 to 9, enabling the analysis of methodological explanations for gender differences in symptom indication as well.

 

This research project was funded by the German Research Foundation and was carried out in cooperation with the Universities of Giessen, Osnabrück and Frankfurt a.M.. This project focused on the development of learning and memory performance from infancy until preschool age as well as cultural differences. A group of researchers at the University of Osnabrück conducted research on children in Cameroon, in order to compare the learning and memory performance of these children with the ones of German children. The learning behaviour of the children was examined using playful measures and was associated with the temperament, the IQ, the ability to concentrate etc. By now, this project is completed, but some works on specific topics may still be published.

Within the project SNAKE a stress prevention program for adolescents was developed and optimised, which is carried out in the school setting. Additionally, an extensive E-learning platform is available for the students. Besides the prevention project SNAKE for adolescents another stress prevention project was developed and evaluated for younger students ("Bleib locker"). In addition to that, many other research projects of the department "Developmental Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology" deal with stress in childhood and adolescence.


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