This research unit focuses on the study of factors involved in the development and maintenance of mental disorders, in particular unipolar depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In our projects we investigate cognitive-affective, developmental-psychological as well as social factors using a multi-method approach. Experimental paradigms from basic social and cognitive psychology research are used to investigate emotional and self-regulatory mechanisms in depressive disorders. Our goal is to model the underlying mechanisms of decision difficulties and intuition deficits in depressed people in behavioral experiments. In addition, we investigate in online-based experience-sampling studies what influence abdominal versus head decisions have on the well-being and behavior of people "in the field".
In order to investigate the role of social factors in the development and maintenance of mental disorders, we take an interdisciplinary approach and incorporate sociological theories into hypothesis formation. One focus is the investigation of the relationships between socio-economic status and negative and positive mental health. The overall goal is to better understand social inequality in the prevalence rates of mental illness. Potential mediating mechanisms are to be identified by means of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies representative of the population. In addition to assumptions from health sociology, hypotheses derived from sociological theories of society will be included in the investigations. A second focus is the investigation of the influence of the socio-economic status of psychotherapy patients on the allocation of therapy places and the attitude of psychotherapists towards patients from low social strata. In addition to investigating social inequality, the study also analyses relationships between value attitudes, depression and psychotherapy success.