Welcome to the Personality & Motivation Lab!

Our interdisciplinary and multi-centered laboratory (TU München, PFH Göttingen) investigates the question of why people behave and experience the way they do. To answer this question, we apply a complex dynamic systems framework that considers how person-related processes and traits interact among each other and with situational factors (“Dynamics of Personality Approach”; Quirin et al., 2020). Variables relating to emotion, stress-/emotion regulation, motivation, will (volition), self-awareness, and social cognition are in the center of our attention. Such an approach allows a holistic, person-centered investigation of research questions from each basic and applied psychological science.

In our experimental and correlational studies we combine self-report questionnaires (e.g., on personality traits) with cognitive-behavioral methods (e.g., reaction times, memory retrieval/recognition, emotional face recognition), neuroscientific methods (e.g., fMRI, EEG), as well as psychophysiological (e.g., heart rate) and endocrinological (e.g., cortisol, oxytocin) indicators. Not least, we develop self-report and objective psychodiagnostics to assess traits and processes. You can find more information about our activities here.


23 January 2023
The Zurich Model of Social Motivation extended!

We are happy to have published an extension of the well-known Zurich Model of Social Motivation, which we applied to explain the motivational foundations of personality. This work was in cooperation with both TUM School of Computation, Information and Technology at Munich (Prof. Knoll), and the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies at Rome (Dr. Mirolli). You can find the article here.

22 August 2022
New Project on Personality Growth

Funding of 870K EUR was granted from John Templeton Foundation. The project is in cooperation with Munich School of Philosophy and will be executed by Technical University of Munich from Oct 2022 to July 2025. We will investigate personality growth after adverse life experiences with a strong focus on relationship breakups: What are the personal and situational determinants, and how can individuals be supported to grow as a person?

01 July 2022
Which areas in the brain are related to a strong motivation to achieve and learn?

We just published a study that investigated achievement motivation in the brain and thus the motivation to learn and deal with challenges. More specifically, we used functional magnet resonance imaging to predict which areas in the brain are differentially activated in individuals with high versus low levels of needs for achievement when they watch pictures showing individuals dealing with challenges. We also distinguished the type of need for achievement: Is this need or “motive” explicitly or “consciously” represented by the individual (i.e., self-reported) or is was it diagnosed by an objective (“implicit”) psychological test? Our study could show that this makes a huge difference: Implicit achievement motive scores predicted activity mostly in right-hemispheric areas and in those particularly related to visual, experiential processing, whereas explicit motive scores predicted activity mostly in left-hemispheric areas and in those particularly related to verbal-semantic processing and willful control. The findings support the notion of implicit (“non-conscious”) and explicit (“conscious”) need systems on the level of the brain that have already been postulated about four decades ago by academic research (e.g., David McClelland and his team) or, in a broader sense, by early theorizing of Sigmund Freud.

29 April 2022
When you do not want what you say you want: What does the brain say?

Sometimes people do not know what they really want. Often, the problem is that they have difficulties distinguishing between goals they chose themselves ("following their heart") and social expectations or so-called "introjections". We are glad to announce that we present the first study that investigated which part of the brain is engaged in distinguishing one’s own choices from social expectations. This work is freshly published in "Frontiers of Psychology" and resulted from a cooperation with Free University of Berlin, Australian Catholic University, California State University at Chico, Bremen University, Osnabrück University and Trier University. Our functional magnetic resonance imaging study found a strong role of the right medial prefrontal cortex in supporting the maintenance of psychological autonomy and counteract alienation in terms of introjection, which individuals with certain personality traits seem to be prone to (i.e., with high levels of rumination, emotional unawareness, introversion). The present research has significant implications for the study of mechanisms underlying autonomous motivation, goal and norm internalization, decision-making, persuasion, education, and clinical conditions such as depression or burnout. A link to the study can be found here.

EAPP Expert Meeting: Personality Dynamics

05 October 2021
Bringing together a diverse group of renowned experts to work on Personality Dynamics and its application in health and other neighboring disciplines

In recent years, personality science has increasingly emphasized the proximate, causal processes and mechanisms underlying personality expressions, its development or “the dynamics of personality”, as well as its relationships to health and well-being.

Prof. Dr. Markus Quirin from the Technical University of Munich and Prof. Dr. John Rauthmann from the University of Bielefeld believe that a novel process-oriented (e.g., cybernetic, neural-network) conceptualization of personality, research designs (e.g., experience sampling, mobile sensing, simulation studies), and statistical tools (e.g., multilevel models, machine learning) may be well suited to integrate nomothetic (i.e., aggregative statistical) and idiographic (i.e., person-centered) approaches.

To this end, the conveners invited 12 international experts to hold an expert meeting on Personality Dynamics that takes place from December 4th to 5th 2021. During the event, they work towards an integrative framework serving to describe, explain, and predict personality phenomena both at a general and an individual level which would advance the scientific understanding of personality and its application in health and other neighboring disciplines. The goal is to bring together a diverse group of renowned experts who have been conducting relevant work from different yet compatible angles.

We thank Gina Hernandez and all the PhD students from the Personality Psychology Lab of Bielefeld University for their efforts in organizing the event.