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: 27 June 2016

Women are more affiliation-motivated than men

In a study to be published in the Journal for Research on Personality, HuMAN Lab researchers Amely Drescher and Oliver Schultheiss found that women and men differ in their nonconscious need for affiliation, but not in their nonconscious needs for power or achievement. The authors used meta-analysis to arrive at these findings, which means that they averaged gender differences for motive measures across published and unpublished studies. Thus, their findings are based on a research synthesis of 28 studies with a total of almost 6,000 research participants and spanning more than 50 years. The observed gender difference between women and men in affiliation motivation is almost half a standard deviation. This means that the average woman scores higher than 70% of men in terms of her need for affiliation

At first blush, the result of higher affiliation motivation in women appears to reflect a gender stereotype at work that prescribes more feminine, "soft" traits for women. However, in their paper Drescher and Schultheiss point out that the truth behind their finding may be more complicated. First, they obtained their results looking at motivation measures that do not rely on self-report and instead tap nonconscious, implicit motivational needs. Thus, the affiliation gender difference is not simply a matter of verbal self-categorization, but appears to reflect something deeper.  Second, women were not less power- or achievement-motivated than men and therefore did not follow traditional gender stereotypes in these domains. The authors speculate that hormonal factors may contribute to the gender difference in affiliation motivation, because some studies show that women who do not take oral contraceptives are much more similar to men in their need for affiliation than women who take the pill.

[Previous releases]

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.
Find out more...

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: 29 Juni, 2016

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