Max Planck Research Fellow

Gert G. Wagner as Research Fellow in the Institute

The Max Planck Society appointed Gert G. Wagner a Max Planck Fellow in 2008. In so doing, it recognized the interdisciplinary and fundamental research of an internationally renowned scientist. In 2018, Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, appointed Gert G. Wagner Senior Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) until the end of 2023.

At the MPI for Human Development, Wagner works mainly with the research areas “Adaptive Rationality” and “Lifespan Psychology.” Wagner is also a faculty member of the LIFE Doctoral School (International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course) and co-PI of the Berlin Aging Study (BASE-II). He is also a member of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech); Associate of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Potsdam; and Fellow at the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB Fellow), Wiesbaden and Berlin.

Wagner is a member of the Editorial Board of the multidisciplinary journal PLOS One and of the Commission for Research Ethics of the Leibniz Association and the Ethics Board of the European Social Survey (ESS). He is also a member of the German Council of Consumer Experts (SVRV), of the Social Advisory Council of the German Federal Government, and of the Evaluation Panel of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).


Wagner’s research focuses on the causes of individual differences in life courses, with a special focus on risk preferences. He works primarily with the data of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), which he directed from 1989 to 2011. Findings from psychological research in a controlled laboratory environment often cannot be generalized to the world at large. Conversely, large-scale surveys in the social sciences rarely allow causal conclusions to be drawn on behavior and development at an individual level. This methodological dilemma is increasingly being overcome by integrating questions on psychological personality traits into representative longitudinal studies such as the SOEP and, in particular, by incorporating behavioral experiments into a representative longitudinal survey with the “SOEP Innovation Sample.” The SOEP also serves as a reference sample for the Berlin Aging Study (BASE-II) located at the MPIB.


The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) is a representative longitudinal survey that has been providing microdata for basic research in the social and economic sciences every year since 1984. The SOEP and its innovation subsample (SOEP-IS) is hosted at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin).

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