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: 29 November 2021

Power-motivated people avoid angry faces

Research conducted at the HuMAN Lab suggests that people with a strong power motive avert their gaze from angry faces. Using eye-tracker technology in two studies with over 260 participants, Kevin Janson and his team presented pairs of angry and neutral faces on the computer screen and determined where participants looked first. They found that individuals with a strong power motive, as assessed with a picture-story measure, more frequently looked “the other way” -- away from the angry face and towards the neutral face -- than individuals with a weak power motive. Says lead researcher Janson: “Power-motivated individuals behave adaptively. They avoid challenges and the potential fights that come with them whenever they can. However, that should not be taken to mean that they will avoid challenges at all costs. At some point, they are likely to engage and actually look at the challenger. I suspect that this happens when the challenge is persistent and relevant enough.” Adds Oliver Schultheiss, co-author of the paper, which was just published by Motivation Science: “I am glad that we see the gaze-avoidance effect with eye tracker technology. This allows us to measure rather directly where people allocate their attention. In a previous study, we obtained similar findings, but with a more indirect method that left some key questions unanswered. Kevin Janson’s findings are a big step forward in terms of showing that the effect is real and replicable.” [click here for previous news]


Ulna-to-Fibula Ratio (UFR)
The figure shows the likelihood of looking at an angry or a neutral face separately for high-power (red lines) and low-power (blue lines) participants (black lines = difference between high- and low-power participants)..

New edited handbook on social neuroendocrinology

Oliver C. Schultheiss (Friedrich-Alexander University) and Pranjal H. Mehta (University College, London) are the editors of the new Routledge International Handbook of Social Neuroendocrinology. The handbook is the first to bring together a broad variety of findings, topics, and perspectives emerging from the nascent field of social endocrinology. Featuring 39 chapters by author teams from the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and Israel, it provides state-of-the-art accounts of research on dominance and aggression; social affiliation; reproduction and pair bonding (e.g., sexual behavior, sexual orientation, romantic relationships); pregnancy and parenting; stress and emotion; cognition and decision making; social development; and mental and physical health.

Implicit Motives Coverclick for a bigger view

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: 30 November, 2021

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