The power of learning from experience: How we can become better intuitive statisticians

Why do babies and chimpanzees seem better able to deal with probabilities than adults, and what are the implications for statistics education? Researchers at the MPI for Human Development and the University of the Balearic Islands have investigated these questions in two studies now published in the journals Cognition and Psychological Bulletin.

Brain ‘noise’ may hold the keys to psychiatric treatment efficacy

It remains a challenge in psychiatry to reliably judge whether a patient will respond to treatment. In a study researchers from Karolinska Institutet and the MPI for Human Development show that moment-to-moment fluctuations in brain activity can reliably predict whether patients with social anxiety disorder will be receptive to cognitive behavioral therapy.

"Each individual child around the world is given the opportunity to acquire new skills"

How can you explain the goal of the Jacobs Foundation to a child? Ulman Lindenberger, Director of the Center for Lifespan Development, talks about his work in the Jacobs Foundation Board of Trustees. His key priorities are: creating evidence-based ideas for improved learning, offering quality education, and transforming education systems. Read his interview with the Jacobs Foundation.

Experiment on swarm intelligence and decision-making

Do you tend to rely on your personal judgment, or do you rely on the opinions of others? The answer to this question can help with better understanding phenomena such as polarization. An experiment on this topic is part of the Humboldt Laboratory in Berlin. The results will be used in a project of the “Science of Intelligence” Cluster of Excellence and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Time slots can now be booked free of charge.

Strengthening science in a bid to secure the future

On September 26th not only the elections of the German parliament will take place, but as well of the Parliament of Berlin. With a position paper developed under the umbrella of Berlin Research 50, the non-university institution of Berlin emphasize what is important for science in Berlin. The position paper contains 10 demands that should be implemented by the future senate to strengthen Berlin as science metropolis.

Emotions in History

Ute Frevert’s groundbreaking publications represent a vital contribution to social and gender history. Early in her career, she mapped the history-making power of individual emotions and explored their historical roots. Her new book presents a carefully curated selection of key essays, unique case studies, and previously unpublished lectures from the last three decades that testifies to the power of emotions in history and the value of the history of emotions.

How can we get better at detecting microtargeted advertising?

Online platforms collect large amounts of information about us and our behavior. This information is used to tailor advertising to our needs, but also to our personal vulnerabilities. If this happens without our knowledge, online advertising can become manipulative. In a new article in Scientific Reports, researchers from the Center for Adaptive Rationality show how simple interventions can improve people’s ability to detect microtargeted advertising.

Searching for the origins of COVID-19

Clarifying the origin of the coronavirus is not only in the scientific interest but also in the geopolitical interest. But so far, there is a lack of reliable results. In an article in Nature Electronics, Manuel Cebrian, Leader of the Digital Mobilization Group at the Center for Humans and Machines, offers some technical considerations that could help get to the bottom of its origin. Investigating a twenty-first-century catastrophe, he says, requires a twenty-first-century technological response.

Taking the brain out for a walk

During the Corona pandemic, walks became a popular and regular pastime. Now a neuroscience study suggests: If you’re regularly out in the fresh air, you’re doing something good for both your brain and your well-being. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). The longitudinal study using magnetic resonance imaging of brains recently appeared in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry.

Caution – toxic green!

Some plants produce toxins that can make us sick – or even kill us. Thus, a wariness of plants makes sense from an evolutionary point of view, especially for infants and toddlers. Annie Wertz is investigating which behaviors protect children from dangerous plants and how they learn from adults which plants are safe to eat. Read more about this in the current MaxPlanckResearch.

The Institute

The Max Planck Institute for Human Development is dedicated to the study of human development and educational processes across the lifespan and historical time. Researchers from diverse disciplines—including psychology, sociology, history, computer and information science, medicine, mathematics, and economics—work together on interdisciplinary projects. An overview of all research centers and groups can be found here.

Are you looking for a specific contact? Some 350 people from over 30 countries work at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. The institute comprises four research centers, three Max Planck Research Groups, one Emmy Noether Group, one Lise Meitner Research Group, and several service departments. The contact details of all staff members are listed here.

Are you interested in participating in a study? We are always looking for men, women, and children of various ages who are interested in participating in psychological or neuroscience studies. Here you can find out which projects are currently looking for participants and read up on the conditions for participation and study methods used.

Current Research Results



Why do babies and chimpanzees seem better able to deal with probabilities than adults, and what are the implications ...

It remains a central challenge in psychiatry to reliably judge whether a patient will respond to treatment. In a new ...

Many people find it morally impermissible to put kidneys, children, or doctorates on the free market. But what makes a ...

The Max Planck Institute for Human Development is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men. We take both organizational and personnel measures to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life and to promote women’s careers. Our aim is to ensure a positive environment that promotes and supports excellence.

The MPI for Human Development provides several working opportunities for Predocs.
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