Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences - Department of Psychology

Research Interests

Our fields of research cover issues of personality, personality and intelligence interaction, achievement motivation, faking, and working memory. We are interested in theoretical basics as well as practical implementations. The focus regarding practical implementation is set on prognostic validity and effects of faking.


Noncognitive measures are continuously gaining importance. During the last years, despite many controversies, interest is directed especially towards the Big-Five. The construct and criterion validity of the Big-Five was thereby tested in several studies. However, there is an ongoing debate whether there are higher order factors, above the Big 5. We study the influence of situational circumstances on these metatraits.

Personality and Intelligence Interaction

When predicting human performance or learning, intelligence has proven a powerful variable. Aspects of personality, such as openness to experience or conscientiousness have also been successfully included in many studies. However, research on the combined impact of intelligence and personality is rare. Moreover, usually a linear combination is assumed. We are conducting several studies exploring possible interactions between intelligence and personality in the prediction of human perfomance and learning.

Achievement Motivation

Some studies, especially long-term studies, have shown that, besides intelligence and personality, differences in achievement motivation help to explain differences in achievement. However, when it comes to measuring motives, there exist numerous different approaches: Objective, subjective, projective, and semi-projective methods. Besides that there are instruments measuring general motives and others assessing domain specific aspects. Within a series of our team’s studies, the similarities of the methods, their predictive validity, and their sensitivity for falsification are being analyzed.


As described earlier, the influence of the situation affects construct and criterion validity of noncognitive measures. In a broader sense, faking can be understood as situational influence. The effects are analyzed with a variety of methods, e.g., Latent State Trait Designs, Individual Causal Effect Designs, and Mixed Rasch Models. The present results show: Faking aggravates the correlation between personality measures. If one controls this influence, the correlations fall to close to zero. Furthermore, we were able to show that the individual differences related to faking are barely valid for prediction. Other results show that there are different faking strategies. A model was developed based on the results.

Intelligence and Working Memory

General Mental Ability has been proven in many studies to be the most valuable predictor for professional and academic success. Alongside there exist a couple of other cognitive constructs, including working memory. Our team analyzes the interaction between intelligence, working memory, and mental speed. This basic work not only serves the better understanding of human cognitive performance, but should also improve the prediction of human behavior.