Department Psychological Aging Research



Digital Lifespan Psychology: Maximize benefits and minimize risks of immersive
Virtual Reality (iVR) for humans and societies

2024-2028, funded by the Volkswagen foundation, project management: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus


Relocation and personality development in late adulthood

2022-2025, funded by the China Scholarship Counsil, project management: Yang Sun, Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus

The project examines personality development in late adulthood--an age period that has rarely been addressed so far. The effects of the relocation to a care facility on social contacts, personality traits, and well-being are of particular interest. Two subprojects analyze data from China and Europe to identify country-specific effects. The main project, which is caried out in cooperation with care facilities in Heidelberg, will accompany and repeatedly interview older adults during the first six months after their relocation.

"My virtual home" - Benefits of immersive virtual reality for personalized therapy of patients in palliative care and oncology

2023-2024, funded by the NCT "Spenden gegen Krebs"- program, project management: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus, Dr. Christina Gerlach, Prof. Dr. Bernd Alt-Eppinger, University hospital Heidelberg

The project "My virtual home" examines the additional benefits of personalized VR video compared to generic videos of nature for the well-being and pain reduction of terminally ill patients. The first project phase explores wishes and concernc of patients in palliative care and oncology regarding VR applications. During the second project phase, we create personalized 360° videos of patients' homes and/or relatives, and patients can then watch the videos repeatedly in the hospital.

MED1st MR - Medical first responder training using a mixed reality approach

2021-2024, funded by EU Horizon 2020 program, project management (UHEI part): PD Dr. Ottilie Frenkel, ISSW University Heidelberg, Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus

Aim of the project is to understand the decision-making and behavior of medical first responders in stressful and high-risk emergency situations. We study behavior and underlying psych-physiological processes in experiments and real-life settings. To optimize stress-regulation and decision-making, we develop and validate virtual reality interventions including wearables. This project is an interdisciplinary, multicenter cooperation of 19 project partners, including universities, technological companies, and emergency aids from ten countries.

CUPID - CoUple's Personality In Daily Life

2020-2022, project management: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus, Dr. Janina BĂĽhler

The project studies cognitive, affective and behavioral process of personality traits in romantic couples during the transition of moving in together. Participants answer questionnaires and an experience-sampling assessment with five assessments per day for ten days. A follow-up on changes in personality and relationships occurs after six months.


ARISE - Associative, Reflective, and epIgenetic procesSEs of personality development in young and old adulthood

2021-2024, funded by the DFG, project management: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus, in cooperation PD Dr. Corina Aguilar-Raab, University Heidelberg

The project examines cognitive and epigenetic processes of personality development as well as interindividual differences therein. Using experimental and behavioral interventions, we test age differences in change processes of socio-emotional characteristics.

DIPS - Dynamic interactions between personality traits and social relationships: Short- and Medium-Term Processes in Everyday Life with the Inclusion of Further Individual Traits and Social Context Factors

2019-2023, funded by DFG, project leader: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus, in cooperation with Prof. Dr. David Richter, German Institute for Economic Research and Freie Universität Berlin

The project addresses short- and medium-term dynamics within and especially between social relationships in everyday life, whereas so far individual relationship types (e.g., friendships) have often been studied statically, e.g., in terms of number or average frequency of contact. The influence of personality traits (e.g., extraversion, affiliation motive) on relationship dynamics is examined multivariately and in relation to social context factors (e.g., social network, population density).

EMIL - Emotional reactivity and emotion regulation in old age

A multi-temporal approach linked to the ILSE project

2017-2020, funded by DFG, project leader: Prof. Dr. Oliver Schilling, in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Ute Kunzmann, University of Leipzig, and Prof. Dr. Denis Gerstorf, Humboldt University of Berlin

In this project, stress reactivity and emotion regulation in old and very old age, their antecedent resilience or vulnerability factors, and longer-term effects on physical and psychological functioning are investigated. The study is linked to the Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study of Adulthood (ILSE): Former ILSE participants will be examined in a 7-day outpatient assessment and a controlled laboratory study, which will be conducted in parallel at the two ILSE survey centers in Heidelberg and Leipzig. The project aims to fill research gaps in the field of emotional aging and to gain new insights into the strengths and weaknesses of emotion-regulatory abilities in an age range increasingly affected by risk of loss.

KommmiT - Communication with Intelligent Technology

2015-2020, funded by the BMBF, project management: Dr. Michael Doh, Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl

The project comprises the scientific monitoring of a model project in Stuttgart on digital neighborhoods and participation in old age. Technology-savvy elderly people are trained as everyday and technology companions in order to teach technology- and participation-sensitive elderly target groups how to use a tablet PC and a neighborhood app. The research is guided by questions about mediatization effects in the everyday lives of approximately 200 older project participants and about possible protective factors for healthy aging, such as social participation, mobility, health and autonomy.

Short- and Long-term Processes of Personality Development in Adulthood

2015-2018, funded by the DFG, project leader: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus

The aim of the project is to better understand personality development in young and older adulthood by examining age and context effects as well as everyday processes. To this end, a Measurement Burst study was conducted with 382 young (18-30 years) and older adults (60-75 years) over two years. Personality traits were assessed with questionnaires, implicit measures, and by acquaintance assessments. In addition, everyday situations and behaviors were recorded on up to 50 days.

Experts in personality development? An "extreme group approach" with psychotherapists

2014-2016, JGU Research Funding, Project Director: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wrzus

The project investigates reflexive processes of personality development in prospective and practicing psychotherapists compared to medical doctors. 279 persons (age M = 32.9, SD = 11.5; 80% female) were repeatedly examined over five months in everyday life with regard to various personality traits and everyday experiences. Of them, 103 were psychotherapists in training, 55 were practicing therapists, and 97 were medical doctors or medical students.