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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

Lensing, N., & Elsner, B. (2019). Cool executive functioning predicts not only mean levels but also individual 3-year growth trajectories of zBMI in elementary-school children. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Available online March 20, 2019. doi: 10.1177/0165025419833818

Meixner, J. M., Warner, G.J., Lensing, N., Elsner, B., & Schiefele, U. (2019). The relation between executive functions and reading comprehension in primary-school students: a cross-lagged-panel analysis. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 46, 62–74. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.04.010

Patzwald, C., & Elsner, B. (2019). Do as I say - or as I do?! How 18- and 24-month-olds integrate words and actions to infer intentions in situations of match or mismatch. Infant Behavior and Development, 55, 46-57. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2019.03.004

Schönebeck, M., & Elsner, B. (2019). ERPs reveal perceptual and conceptual processing in 14-month-olds' observation of complete and incomplete action end-states. Neuropsychologia, 126, 102-112. Available online 21 October 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.10.026