Developmental Psychology

Welcome to the home page of the Department of Developmental Psychology Group!

The research interests of our department focus on cognitive and social development in childhood from both basic and applied perspectives. We investigate, for instance, the development of mathematical skills (Mirjam Ebersbach), the impact of physical activity on cognitive skills (Marion Stein), and the development of fairness understanding (Martina Vogelsang). Furthermore, we are investigating the efficacy of (desirable) difficulties in learning processes in primary and secondary school (Katharina Barzagar Nazari, Mirjam Ebersbach).

Our teaching activities include courses in developmental psychology (e.g., specific research methods, theories, cognitive and social development across the life span) for Bachelor’s and Master’s students in psychology. In addition, we teach basic (developmental) psychological skills to teacher trainees and students of social work.

 
Prof. Dr. Mirjam Ebersbach

Research

We are currently investigating the development of children’s numerical and non-numerical estimation ability in relation to their counting skills (in collaboration with Prof. Verschaffel, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium). Mental representation of numbers appears to be related to children’s robust counting range, which makes it plausible to assume a segmented mental number line. Other current projects involve the role of motor function in cognition and the embodiment of knowledge (e.g., embodiment in mental rotation, in collaboration with Dr. Krueger, University of Greifswald). In addition, we are part of a LOEWE-Project at the University of Kassel, in which we are investigating cognitive and motivational prerequisites that promote the effectiveness of desirable difficulties in learning of primary and secondary school students.

Publications

See here for a list of publications (copies on request):

Dr. Martina Vogelsang

Research

My research focuses on the development of social cognition, especially how children acquire an understanding of fairness. In the course of my doctoral candidacy, I have conducted several studies on this subject using economic games. In addition, I am interested in comparative cognition, i.e., what sets humans apart from our closest living relatives, the great apes.

Publications

See here for a list of publications:

Dr. Marion Stein

Research

My current field of research is the impact of physical activity on cognitive skills and academic achievement. Over the past few decades, this topic has been a consistently emerging issue, not only with respect to adults but also children and adolescents. Although studies have shown that physical activity in older adults may reduce cognitive degradation, there has been less investigation concerning children’s cognitive skills. The interest in the latter has grown over the past few years, with many cross-sectional and some (quasi-) experimental studies that yielded ambiguous results, showing either slightly enhancing or zero effects of physical activity. Due to the lack of randomized controlled experiments it is still indeterminate, (a) what kind of physical activity causes the greatest effects on which kind of cognition, (b) what is the most effective duration or frequency of physical activity to increase cognitive abilities, and (c) whether the potential link between physical activity and cognition is mediated by other variables. My dissertation will fill in some of these gaps to provide a better view of the relationship and processes of physical activity and cognition in children.