Dissertations and Habilitations


Research themes of the Department of Psychological Ageing Research Heidelberg under the direction of Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl

1.) Health, Well-Being and Mental Health in Middle and Old Age

  • From middle adulthood into old and very old age, people are increasingly confronted with losses, such as decline in physical (e.g. sensory) function and health problems. Given the increasing risk and experience of these losses and realisation of their morbidity, how can they succeed in maintaining subjective well-being and manage their lives so that it is felt as meaningful?


2.) Psychological Aspects of Advanced Old Age and  Psychological Terminality

  • How do basic psychological processes (e.g. cognitive, emotional etc.) develop in relation to the end of life processes of physical degradation and/or the approach of death? Dealing with this topic, we analyse terminal (i.e. distance-to-death related) changes of affective experience and conduct research on the prevalence and effects of fear of dying and death in very old age.


3.) Adaptational Processes in the Context of Chronic Diseases and disabilities

  • A key differentiating characteristic between old age and earlier life phases are chronic conditions and functional ability impairment – frequently to be seen in co-existence (multimorbidity). Our core research question is how older adults cope with this challenge. In addition, we examine whether and how psychological dynamics (e.g., relationship between personality and affect) may change in the face of multimorbidity. Age-related sensory impairment has gained particulary attention in our respective research.


4.) Importance of Subjective Aging

  • Individuals are able to give meaning to their „objective aging“ (subjective aging). Research in this area shows that subjective aging indicators predict endpoints such as health, disease, well-being, cognitive performance and mortality. We examine the role of a newly introduced facet of subjective aging, namely, the awareness of age-related change.


5.) Environments, Mobility, Cognitive Health, and Everyday Competence

  • Limitations in everyday competence and mobility as well as cognitive impairment (such as dementia) increase with advancing age. As a consequence, person-environment fit constellations may change dramatically. We investigate if and to what extent everyday competence and mobility patterns of older adults vary according to their cognitive health status as well as which components of mobility are particularly closely associated with well-being. In addition, we treat the issue of aging, in everyday environments, in depth.


6.) Environments, Mobility, Cognitive Health, and Everyday Competence

  • Technology plays an increasingly important role in a wide range of everyday-life domains of older adults. Indeed, technology and media may play a key role for maintaining older adults’ autonomy and well-being in the not too distant future. We concentrate on the psychology of technology use in old age, such as examining the role of cognitive impairment and issues related to acceptance.


More research themes and specialist contact persons

  • Development of Psychological Aging Research –  Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses (Hans-Werner Wahl)
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Geriatric Oncology (Hans-Werner Wahl in cooperation with Frau PD Dr. Dr. Eva Winkler)
  • Methodologcal Questions of Longitudinal Research  (Oliver Schilling)



Current Research Projects

  • ILSE / EMIL: Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study of Adult Development -
  • KommmiT: Communication with intelligent technology

Completed Research Projects

  • LateLine: Longitudinal Analysis of Subjective Well-being in Very Old Age
  • ActiveAge: Physical Activity and Subjective Aging in the Context of Transition to Retirement
  • FUTA - Factors supportive and limiting for the management of new information and communication technologies
  • ILSE: Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study of Adult Development
  • SenTra: The Use of Advanced Tracking Technologies for the Analysis of Mobility in Alzheimer's Disease and Related Cognitive Disorders
  • Ageing is what you make of it (Project Chaning Viewpoints of the Robert Bosch Foundation)
  • Awareness of Age-related Change: Transcoop Project
  • BETAGT: Evaluation of new technologies by residents and  staff in the institutional context (Paul Wilhelm von Keppler-Foundation) and  testing of the transfer to private housing: Final report (in German); Short version of the final report (in German)
  • SENSO-AGE: Developmental Impact of Vision and Hearing Loss in Old Age: Importance of Social-spatial and Psychological Resources
  • ENABLE-AGE: Enabling Autonomy, Participation, and Well-Being in Old Age: The Home Environment as a Determinant for Healthy Ageing
  • Getting Older in Arheilgen: Publications; Research Report
  • Heidelberg 2002: Environmental Preferences and Realities: Stressors, Opportunities, and Perspectives on Living Independently in Old Age: Publications; Research Report
  • Relocation in Old Age: An Environmental-gerontological Study on Relocation among Elderly in Private Households in Heidelberg: Publications
  • This is my Home: On the Meaning of Home. An empirical Study with Healthy and Mobility Impaired Elderly: Publications
  • New Living Arrangments in Old Age: Research Report
  • Projects on Vision Impairment in Old Age: Publications
  • sentha: Every Day Technology for Senior Households: Publications
  • Couple Study of Heidelberg: Publications


Dissertations and Habilitations

  • Mona Diegelmann: Depressive Symptons and Activity in a Sample of Nursing Home Residents
  • Benjamin Tauber : Predictors of Personality Development in Mid and Late Adulthood. The Role of Life Satisfaction, Cognition and Health - an Investigation of Differentiating Effects of Aging
  • Martina Gabrian (geb. Miche): Implications of Awareness of Age-related Change for Self-regulatory Processes in Later Life and Their Mutual Effects on Adaptional Functioning
  • Laura Schmidt: Performance on everyday technology tasks in old age - Examining the effects of cognitive impairment, interface complexity and technology experience
  • Katrin Claßen: The Role of Personality Related Factors Regarding Older Adults` Attitudes Toward and Evlautaion of Technology: The role of Technology Generations
  • Vera Clavairoly: Successful Ageing in the Working Environment: The influence of the SOC-model
  • Dr. Eva-Marie Kessler: Psychological Resources and Problems in Old Age
  • Birgit Kramer: The acceptance of new technologies for caregivers of people with dementia
  • Yii-Rong Leu: Understanding Health Care Utilization of the Elderly with Parkinsonism in Taiwan: A Modified Behavioural Model Approach
  • Ortrun Reidick: Attitudes Towards Dying and Death in Very Old Age: The Role of Personality, Health and Religiousness
  • Denise Solle: Orientierung im Raum - Eine geographisch-medizinische Studie
  • Barbara Steiner: Evaluation von Demenzwohngemeinschaften
  • Markus Wettstein: Zusammenhänge zwischen kognitiver Leistungsfähigkeit, Sensorik und Mobilität im Alter


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Latest Revision: 2018-10-29
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