Various local research foci are located at the Berlin Department of Psychology. The focal points are assigned to the chairs and working areas. Research projects are carried out both locally networked and across locations as well as in international cooperation with researchers and practitioners from other universities. This takes into account the European orientation of the SFU as well as internalisation as a whole.

Theory and History of Psychology
Ass.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Martin Wieser
Charlotta Sippel, M.Sc.
Caroline Jacobi, M.A.

The focus of this research area is the reconstruction of the history of academic and applied psychology in its political, economic, social and cultural context. Based on methods from the history of science and social history, biographical research and oral history, published and archived materials are analysed and contemporary witnesses are interviewed in order to reconstruct the development of psychological knowledge and its practice in the 19th and 20th centuries. The research focus not only serves to explore the historical connection between psychology and society, but also to critically analyse the epistemological and ethical dimension of psychological research and practice. After the project “Psychology in the ‘Ostmark’. Between Ideology and Servitude” was completed in 2019, the follow-up project “Theory, Practice and Consequences of Operative Psychology” (also funded by the FWF) has been running since July 2020 as part of this research focus.

Development, education and culture
Prof. Dr. Meike Watzlawik
Dr. Christina Ayazi
Dipl.-Psych. Ska Salden
PhD students: René_ Rain Hornstein, Sabrina Saase, Lina Jacob Carande

At the Department of Development, Education and Culture, the focus is on “Embracing Ambiguity“. The research focus deals with the diverse identities, situations, positions and life plans of people and takes into account their embeddedness in existing (power) structures. An intersectional approach allows us to describe and understand the complexity of individual experiences and to counter discrimination on this basis. A special focus is on the (self-)empowerment of marginalised groups as well as intersectional competence in order to promote an appreciative approach to diversity and to create new possibilities for action. Topics that are currently being explored in depth are:

  • Reflecting on privilege – intersectional therapy? Intersectional-sensitive attitudes and behaviour in psychotherapy training (Saase)
  • Internalised trans* hostility and community empowerment (Hornstein)
  • Discrimination Experiences of Queer Pregnant Women in the Health System (Salden)
  • Social and Personal Trajectories of Development in LGBT* Individuals in Off- and Online Communities (Carande)

Social Psychology and Intercultural Practice
Prof. Dr. Oliver Decker
Prof. Dr. David Becker
Ass.-Prof. Karin Mlodoch
Leonard Brixel
Kate Sheese

At the Chair of Social Psychology and Intercultural Practice at SFU Berlin, research focuses on social conflicts in different societies, the emergence and different manifestations of resentment, and the possibilities and limits of solidarity-based agency. The research focuses on German society, but also on international social conflicts:

  • In the Federal Republic, authoritarian dynamics are investigated both by means of population-representative surveys and with qualitative-sensory-reconstructive methods. These projects are carried out in cooperation with various public institutions. There is close cooperation with the Else-Frenkel-Brunswik Institute at the University of Leipzig.
  • In other research projects, the focus is on young people’s experience of belonging. The psychological, familial, social and political conditions that enable or hinder the experience of belonging are examined using qualitative and participatory-action-oriented methods. One focus is on the significance of West German history, especially the two post-National Socialist German states and the transformation processes since 1989.
  • In the field of psychosocial and psychological support in international conflict and crisis regions, the staff members work closely with humanitarian and development organisations. In participatory and applied research projects, they develop care and peer support structures for members of state and civil society organisations in Syria, Turkey and Afghanistan and conduct trainings for health and education professionals and community representatives on psychosocial support for Afghan refugees and host communities in Pakistan. The core principles of these projects include a holistic, context-sensitive understanding of wellbeing and psychosocial support and the empowerment, knowledge and practice of local partners. In this way, these research-practice collaborations also contribute to the broader debate on decolonising psychological knowledge.   

Overall, all projects aim to establish a relationship to the professional and life-world practice of psychology, be it through a transfer of the results to various professional and practical fields, through contributions to anti-discrimination, political education work or also the critical reappraisal and reflection of the relationship between psychology and society.