The Research Training Group combines different disciplines of psychology. The main research goal is the study of risk factors that contribute to frequent developmental problems of childhood and adolescence, like problems of learning and achievement, aggressive behaviour, depressive symptoms and eating and weight-related disorders. The studied risk factors are defined as personal characteristics, like differential perception and processing of environmental information, emotional traits or personal goals and motivations.
Based on the understanding of development as a dynamic process, complex interactions are proposed between risk factors and developmental problems. Important research questions include whether certain risk factors are related to specific problems, or whether developmental problems will persist with increasing age. Moreover, it will be studied how intrapersonal risk factors affect children of different ages, and how developmental problems may affect future development.
In a large-scale longitudinal study, twelve PhD students, three Postdocs and several research students will investigate across several years the development of about 3500 children aged five to 17 years from the Potsdam area. A special aspect of the research programme is that all projects will examine the same children. Thus, a large, but carefully selected number of tests and questionnaires will be conducted, and the bulk of variables will increase the chance of explaining complex interactions. Moreover, the time scale of the investigation will be expanded by the option that subsequent PhD projects can work on previously acquired data.
The department of psychology at the University of Potsdam combines high expertise for childhood and adolescence and for the analysis of complex longitudinal data. Through a structured curriculum and a collaborative supervision framework across different psychological fields, the PhD students' knowledge and competencies will be systematically promoted in a supportive academic environment. The Research Training Group also endorses equal opportunities and introduces participants into the international scientific community early on in their careers. The conceptual and methodological framework of the Research Training Group will consolidate existing links and initiate new collaborations between the different areas of psychological research.