Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Max­Planck­Research Magazine

Issue 2018

MaxPlanckResearch 1/2018

The Power of Humiliation

Rituals of degradation have been used throughout the ages as a means of exercising authority. Judges made a public show of people by having them placed in the pillory, teachers made unruly pupils the object of ridicule with dunce caps. Such practices have been consigned to the past, but modern society has developed new methods for publicly stigmatizing outsiders, as our author describes.

Issue 2016

MaxPlanckResearch 1/2016

Bedtime Stories or Bali?

Decisions follow a script all their own. Sometimes current facts play a role, sometimes utility is the driving force – and sometimes they are rooted deep in human evolutionary history. Ralph Hertwig, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, studies the dynamics of choice, uncertainty and risk. And he advises grandparents to help look after their grandchildren.

Issue 2015

MaxPlanckResearch - 4/2015

The Musical Score of Emotions
Music arouses emotions. But exactly what people feel when listening to a piece of music and how they express these feelings is influenced mainly by the times they live in and their culture. A research group led by Sven Oliver Müller at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin has carried out research on the changing emotions in Europe’s musical life, focusing in particular on the impact of music’s communal spirit.

MaxPlanckResearch - 2/2015

Dreams Bring Lucidity to Our Thinking
“I think, therefore I am” – René Descartes’ thinking gave him the certainty that he did, in fact, exist. At the same time, he was aware that he was thinking, and he was able to contemplate his own thoughts. Scientists call this reflection on one’s own thinking “metacognition” – a skill that so-called lucid dreamers have, as well. Elisa Filevich and Simone Kühn at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin are studying which brain regions are particularly pronounced in lucid dreamers, and whether it is the same ones that are also related to metacognition.
Issue 2014


The Anatomy of the Shooting Spree
Shooting sprees shock us and spark bewilderment and fear. At the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, a Minerva project is examining the link between possession of firearms, violence and emotions, based on the example of shooting sprees. Historian Dagmar Ellerbrock has already addressed the controversial topic of “youth and weapons” in previous studies.

Heft 2014

Worlds of Emotions
A cultural historian at a psychological research institute? Ute Frevert considers herself an advocate of the humanities – and enjoys putting the concepts and methods of her empirically oriented colleagues from the field of natural sciences to the test time and again. To support her arguments, the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin occasionally calls on witnesses such as Romeo and Juliet, Frederick the Great, and even Angela Merkel.
Issue 2013

MaxPlanckResearch 4/2013

Letter by Letter
Children learn to speak simply by imitating what they hear, but only very few learn to read and write without some instruction. Sascha Schroeder and his REaD research group at Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development are investigating just how this works. Through their research, they are creating the basis for effectively supporting children with reading problems.

MaxPlanckResearch 2/2013

The Anatomy of Learning
Our brain is a work in progress. From childhood to old age, it is continually modifying its structure and connectivity to support behavioral flexibility and plasticity (modifiability). Ulman Lindenberger from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin is examining how the brain is rebuilt in the course of development. The brains of children are generally more plastic than those of adults, but recent findings show that structural plasticity isn’t entirely lost in adulthood.
Issue 2011

MPR 1 /2011

Do Emotions Make History?
One might presume that feelings are universal. Scholars working with Margrit Pernau at Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development would probably beg to differ. Taking India as an example, the group is exploring how the cultural environment has shaped emotions over the course of history.
Issue 2009

MPR 1 /2009

Better to Step in Early than Fix Things Later
As a country that prides itself on its education system,
Germany was left reeling by the PISA study.
Issue 2008

MPR 4 /2008

Toward a Life of Longing?
Researchers conducted the first-ever study of how life longings arise, how they effect us and what their purpose is – and they fathomed a complex and deeply human emotion.

MPR 3 /2008

Born to Teach?
Mathematics is considered difficult material to convey – and math lessons are typically unpopular. Could it be partly because of the teachers? At the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, a team working with Mareike Kunter is investigating what makes a good math teacher.
Issue 2007

MPR 3 /2007

Fear in the Wake of Terror
Apart from their immediate consequences, terrorist attacks also have an indirect impact, as they arouse uncertainty and fears in the minds of many people – and thus trigger behaviors that often amplify the damage.

MPR 2 /2007

Aging Smart
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