DPhil Candidate | BSc (Psychology) BSc (Economics) MSc (Psychological Research)
SoBE Lab & Crockett Lab
I am a DPhil candidate at the SoBE Lab and the Crockett Lab. My research is supervised by Dr Nadira Faber (Oxford) and Professor Molly Crockett (Yale). I am supported by a doctoral scholarship of the German National Scholarship Foundation and a Brasenose Senior Hulme Scholarship.
My background is in both psychology, in which I obtained a BSc in 2014 at the University of Heidelberg, and economics, in which obtained a BSc in 2015 (again at the University of Heidelberg). In 2016, I completed an MSc in Psychological Research at the University of Oxford with distinction and was awarded the Oldfield Prize for Best Overall Performance in my cohort.
My current research projects
Mirroring my interest in the nexus of psychology and economics, my current research investigates social decision-making under uncertainty. Uncertainty – encompassing risk and ambiguity – permeates our lives. Mirroring its significance, some of psychology’s and economics' most important contributions have been dedicated to understand how it influences human decision-making. However, it is not well understood how uncertainty shapes social decision-making in particular.
My DPhil aims to address this gap by taking a two-fold approach: in a first line of research, I investigate how features that are specific to the social realm shape uncertainty’s effect on people’s decisions to forgo self-interest for others’ sake. In a second line of research, I explore how uncertainty influences social decisions that do not trade off self- versus social interests, but conflicting social or moral values.
I draw on methods ranging from game-theoretical paradigms, over scenario-based designs, to formal modelling approaches. Beyond advancing our understanding of how uncertainty affects social decision-making, I am committed to apply my research to real-world settings. For instance, being part of the Oxford Martin School's Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease, I investigate how my insights about social decision-making under uncertainty could inform the design of policy interventions geared towards increasing prosocial behaviour (e.g., vaccination uptake).
Uncertainty about the impact of social decisions increases prosocial behavior
Kappes A. et al, (2018), Nature Human Behaviour
Commentary: Parsing the Behavioral and Brain Mechanisms of Third-Party Punishment.
Nußberger A-M. et al, (2017), Front Neurosci, 11
Other research interests
A longer-term research interest of mine is a psychological approach to interpersonal comparisons of utility. Comparing utilities across different individuals has often been deemed impossible in the economic literature. Meanwhile, people actually make such comparisons on a day-to-day basis. Understanding how people infer and balance others' preferences might help us to develop a formalised approach to interpersonal comparisons of utilities.
I have worked as a research assistant at the Crockett Lab on a project looking at the effects of cognitive enhancement drugs such as Ritalin on social decision-making. During my time in Heidelberg, I assisted on a project at the University’s Centre for Social Innovation investigating applications of “nudges” to the public sector. As a research assistant under Prof Dr Klaus Fiedler in the Department of Cognitive Research in Social Psychology (CRiSP) at Heidelberg University, I have worked on a wide spectrum of subjects in social psychology.