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Department of Developmental Psychology: Welcome!

Developmental Psychology investigates age-related changes in behavior and experience that occur across the lifespan of an individual. Research examines different areas of development, e.g., cognitive, emotional, or social capabilities, and asks questions such as: At which age and how exactly do the changes occur? Which factors (e.g., in the individual or the environment) are the causes of developmental changes?

Recent research foci of our department include empirical studies on

  • (social-)cognitive development in early infancy (mainly understanding of other people’s actions, imitative learning, control of intentional action),
  • Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (neural correlates of cognitive development)
  • relations between cognitive abilities (mainly executive functions, theory of mind) and developmental problems in middle childhood,
  • development in adolescence and in emerging adulthood,
  • relations of learning and development.

Research methods include eye-tracking, EEG, and video-based behavioral analyses.


Crossing-Projekt (DFG FOR 2253)

Crossing the borders: The interplay of language, cognition, and the brain in early human development

PIER-Project (DFG GRK 1668)

Intrapersonal developmental risk factors in childhood and adolescence: A longitudinal perspective



Investigates the cognitive development of children from the age of 4 month onwards


Production of video based footage for psychological behavior analysis and stimulus presentation in experimental settings

Recent publications

Adam, M., Reitenbach, I., & Elsner, B. (2017). Agency cues and 11-month-olds’ and adults’ anticipation of action goals. Cognitive Development, 43, 37-48. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2017.02.008

 Holl, A. K., Kirsch, F., Rohlf, H., Krahé, B., & Elsner, B. (2017). Longitudinal reciprocity between theory of mind and aggression in middle childhood. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Available online September 4, 2017. doi: 10.1177/0165025417727875

Lensing, N., & Elsner, B. (2017). Overweight and Normal-Weight Children’s Decision-Making in a Child Variant of the Iowa Gambling Task. Child Development Research, 2017, Article ID 1285320. doi:10.1155/2017/1285320

Schönebeck, M., & Elsner, B. (2017). ERPs of 14-month-olds’ perceptual and conceptual processing of complete and incomplete end-states of others’ actions. Neuropsychologia. Available online October 21, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.10.026