Psychology of Motivation and Emotion

Past Leader: Prof. Dr. Dr. Olga Pollatos (Junior professorship)
Office: Petra Köhler

The division was under the leadership of Prof. Olga Pollatos until Fall 2011.

Psychology of motivation and emotion deals with basic principles of behavior and its neurobiological underpinnings. Both research fields are of great relevance for various aspects of applied sciences, e.g. clinical psychology or learning psychology. Fundamental questions of motivation are concerned with sources, directions and persistence of behavior. A main focus lies on interindividual differences and their neural constraints. Second, a great effort is provided to classify and measure the broad categories of different motives. Cognitive and biological approaches to psychology have often been used in understanding how we experience emotions, and how emotions interact with cognition. People have been attempting to understand this phenomenon for thousands of years, and will most likely debate for a thousand more. The idea that the body is the main stage of emotions is one core assumption in Antonio Damasio's Somatic Marker Theory which is of great importance for our understanding of emotions, feelings and the constitution of the sentient self as proposed by Bud Craig. Cutting across all these questions are the relative contributions of individual differences and situational constraints to the awareness of feelings and of subsequent attempts to regulate these processes.

Main areas of research within the department are embodied cognition and affective neuroscience. The relationship between emotional processes and bodily signals is one main research topic using high density EEG, functional MRI or peripheral physiology measures. Personality traits like interoceptive sensitivity, alexithymia, depression and emotional coping styles are of interest and are assessed in interaction with their underlying neural correlates. Further research deals with the development of body perception in children and its relationship to weight and eating disorders. The perception and processing of pain and empathy for pain is subject of further research. Clinical groups on the interface of psychiatry and neurology like eating disorders, somatoform and anxiety disorders are also assessed.


Postal address

Department Psychologie
Universität Potsdam
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
OT Golm
14476 Potsdam

Visitor address

Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
Potsdam - Golm
University Campus Golm
Building 14

Map of Golm campus

Email address

University of Potsdam, Germany