Conspiracy beliefs

Dr. Svenja Frenzel

Conspiracy theories posit that secret groups or powerful people cooperate to pursue malevolent goals without public oversight. They often provide non-mainstream explanations for societal events. Believing in conspiracy theories (or short conspiracy beliefs) is associated with several undesired consequences such as law norm adherence including the readiness to break the law or less willingness to engage for the greater good (e.g., less pro-environmental behavior). We are studying conspiracy beliefs, their consequences and interventions against them - mostly in the context of societal crises such as global warming, pandemics, or political crises. 

DFG-Project: "Understanding and fighting the impact of conspiracy mentality" (coordinated by Dr. Svenja Frenzel)

Cognitive conflicts and cognitive flexibility

Dr. Claudia Araya & Dr. Lena Hahn

Cognitive conflicts cause higher cognitive flexibility, presumably because resolving these conflicts requires elaboration and the integration of seemingly inconsistent information at a more abstract level. The positive impact of cognitive conflicts on flexibility carries over from one context to another. It can, thus, be used to facilitate flexibility where spontaneous responses lead to undesirable consequences such as biases (e.g., stereotyping, confirmation bias). We are studying these positive consequences of cognitive conflicts as a means to reduce biases and explore the underlying cognitive processes.

DFG-Project: "Psychological implications of co-opetition" (coordinated by Dr. Claudia Araya)

  • Sassenberg, K. & Winter, K. (2024). Intraindividual conflicts reduce the polarization of attitudes. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 33, 190-197.
  • Sassenberg, K.*, Winter, K.*, Becker, D., Ditrich, L., Moskowitz, G.B., & Scholl, A. (2022). Flexibility mindsets: Reducing biases that result from spontaneous processing. European Review of Social Psychology, 33, 171-213. *shared first-authorship


Dr. Lena Hahn

Research using scientific methods to study science itself (i.e., metascience) has long been rare, but seen a substantial increase as an outcome of the replication crisis. We are broadly interested in Metascience and the acceptance of methodological changes within psychology as an outcome of the replication crises and researchers strategic behavior in response to policy changes. 

  • Glöckner, A., Gollwitzer, M., Hahn, L., Lange, J., Sassenberg, K., & Unkelbach, C. (in press). Quality, replicability, transparency in research in social psychology: Implementation of recommendations in Germany. Social Psychology. 
  • Sassenberg, K., & Ditrich, L. (2019). Research in Social Psychology has changed between 2011 and 2016: Larger sample sizes, more self-report measures, and more online studies. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 2, 107-114.