Human Motivation & Affective Neuroscience Lab
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Welcome to the website of the Human Motivation and Affective Neuroscience (HuMAN) laboratory! Research at the HuMAN Lab aims at providing a better understanding of the physiological, cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects of motivation in humans. Our research has a strong emphasis on nonconscious (i.e., implicit) motivational processes that occur and influence behavior without the person becoming aware of them. We also explore how implicit motives relate to and interact with people's conscious goals and beliefs about their motivational needs. The methods we use to explore these questions include non-declarative personality assessment, measurement of salivary hormone levels, assessment of basic cognitive functions, Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning, and brain imaging. The HuMAN Lab is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
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Latest News: 4 Dezember 2014

Why the power-motivated are better at parking their cars

In a new study accepted for publication in the journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, Dr. Oliver Schultheiss and Melanie Zimni report that higher levels of the implicit power motive are associated with better spatial cognition (see Figure 1). They found this association in a sample of 81 research participants who first completed a picture-story measure of power motivation and then worked on a task that required them to mentally rotate and compare three-dimensional objects (see Figure 2). As Schultheiss, director of the Human Motivation and Affective Neuroscience Lab, explains, “The reason why we looked for and actually found this relationship is that both spatial abilities and power motivation are affected by testosterone levels: Higher testosterone is associated with more power motivation and also with better mental rotation performance – up to a tipping point when even more testosterone would harm spatial ability. That’s why we think it’s intriguing that the need for power also shows evidence of such a curvilinear relationship with spatial ability.” [Find out more…]

PowerMotiv and SpatialCognition

Figure 1. Higher levels of implicit power motivation are associated with better performance on the mental rotation task, both in a linear and a curvilinear manner.


Figure 2. Illustration of the mental rotation task: Is the object on the left the same as the one on the right?

New edited book on implicit motives available

Oliver C. Schultheiss (Friedrich-Alexander University) and Joachim C. Brunstein (Justus-Liebig University) are the editors of “Implicit Motives”, a new book that brings together the latest and best in theory and research on implicit motives. Written by leading authorities in the field, chapters range from portrayals of power, achievement and affiliation motives and their assessment to accounts of how motives shape cognition and physiological changes, their relationship with the needs people attribute to themselves, and their role in culture and society.
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Implicit Motives Cover

For foreign students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree (“Dr. phil.”) at Friedrich-Alexander University through the HuMAN Lab:

The HuMAN-Lab provides research opportunities for foreign students interested in doing work that is closely related to the Lab’s mission. However, due to the requirements of the German university system, regular 3-year positions with a teaching load of 3 courses/year are only available to applicants with documented oral and written fluency in German. Applicants who can obtain a stipend (e.g., through the DAAD or funding agencies from their home country) are also welcome to apply. All applicants must have a master’s degree in psychology and must submit, along with documentation of their degrees, a curriculum vitae, a list of at least two individuals who can comment on their academic achievements, and a letter of intent that sketches out in 2 pages or less the specific research aims and interests of the candidate and how they fit the HuMAN Lab’s mission.

Last updated: 15 Dezember, 2014

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