Max Planck Institute for Human Development


Current Research Results

Plasticity beyond early development: Hypotheses and questions

Lifespan Psychology

Lindenberger, U. (2018). Plasticity beyond early development: Hypotheses and questions. In A. A. Benasich & U. Ribary (Eds.), Emergent brain dynamics: Prebirth to adolescence (pp. 207–223). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Applying insights from research on critical periods in early development, this chapter outlines a life-span research agenda on human plasticity and uses it as the conceptual foundation for a set of research hypotheses and open questions. Plasticity is defined as the capacity for lasting changes in brain structure associated with expansions in behavioral repertoire. As a complement to plasticity, flexibility refers to the instantiation and reconfiguration of the existing behavioral repertoire during periods of stability that are characterized by the absence of structural change. Animal work on critical periods in motor and sensory development substantiates three hypotheses that can serve as guideposts for research on plasticity in later age periods.

Plasticity beyond early development

Developmental Psychology

Lifespan Psychology

Schneider, W., & Lindenberger, U. (Hrsg.). (2018). Entwicklungspsychologie [Developmental psychology] (8th ed.). Weinheim: Beltz.

What does a newborn perceive? How do children learn to deal with emotions? When and how do our personalities evolve? How do cognitive abilities change in adulthood? – The content areas of developmental psychology are more wide-ranging and accessible than is the case for most other fields of psychology. The textbook “Entwicklungspsychologie” – established by Rolf Oerter and Leo Montada – is regarded as the standard work in the field. Wolfgang Schneider and Ulman Lindenberger are the editors of its 8th edition.

Buchcover Entwicklungspsychologie

Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain

History of Emotions

Schofield, K. R., Rajamani, I., & Pernau, M. (Eds.) (2018). Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain. New Delhi: Niyogi.

The monsoon is the season of pouring rain and intense emotions: love and longing, hope and fear, pleasure and pain, devotion and joyous excess. Through a series of evocative essays exploring rain-drenched worlds of poetry, songs, paintings, architecture, films, gardens, festivals, music and medicine, this lavishly illustrated collection examines the history of monsoon feelings in South Asia from the twelfth century to the present.

Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain – Book Cover

Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture

Adaptive Rationality

Fechner, H. B., Schooler, L. J., & Pachur, T. (2018). Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture. Cognition, 170, 102-122. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.09.003

Several theories of cognition distinguish between strategies that differ in the mental effort that their use requires. But how can the effort—or cognitive costs—associated with a strategy be conceptualized and measured?


Die Politik der Demütigung

History of Emotions

Frevert, U. (2017). Die Politik der Demütigung: Schauplätze von Macht und Ohnmacht. Frankfurt: S. Fischer. ISBN: 978-3-10-397222-1

Humiliation practices are common, for example, in parenting and education, on the internet, in penal law, and in politics. Thus, after 1944, many French women accused of liaising with Germans were degraded by having their hair shorn in public.
Die Politik der Demütigung investigates humiliation as an instrument of power in public settings over the past 250 years, demonstrating that modernity never relinquished the pillory but simply reinvented it. It is no longer the state that shames and humiliates but society.

Cover Die Politik der Demütigung

Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies

Adaptive Rationality

Glowacki, L., & Molleman, L. (2017). Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies. Nature Human Behavour, 1:0098. doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0098

Social learning is a fundamental element of human cognition. Learning from others facilitates the transmission of information that helps individuals and groups rapidly adjust to new environments and underlies adaptive cultural evolution. While basic human propensities for social learning are traditionally assumed to be species-universal recent empirical studies show that they vary between individuals and populations. Yet the causes of this variation remain poorly understood. Here we show that interdependence in everyday social and economic activities can strongly amplify social learning.

Cover nature human behaviour

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