Chair of Social Psychology
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Science communication and motivated science reception

The goal of science is to ask the right questions and then find the right answers. More specifically, the social sciences seek to raise questions that are relevant for the understanding and resolution of social problems.

We investigate how scientific laypersons perceive research in the social sciences, which attitudes they have towards such research, and how individual and social motives (e.g. the motive to find support for self-important values or the motive to maintain a positive social identity) can influence the way in which they evaluate and process research results.

One context in which we are investigating these questions is the public perception of research that focuses on the impact of violent video games. For example, we can show that “gamers“ are more likely to question the quality of research and to boycott research as participants the stronger they identify with the “gamer” group.

These findings have implications for the way scientists should communicate their results to the public and how they should present their research in the media.

Selected Publications:


Bender, J., Rothmund, T., Nauroth, P., & Gollwitzer, M. (in press). How moral threat shapes laypersons’ engagement with science. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Nauroth, P., Gollwitzer, M., Kozuchowski, H., Bender, J., & Rothmund, T. (in press). The effects of social identity threat and social identity affirmation on laypersons’ perception of scientists. Public Understanding of Science.

Rothmund, T., Gollwitzer, M., Nauroth, P. & Bender, J. (in Druck). Motivierte Wissenschaftsrezeption. Psychologische Rundschau.

Nauroth, P., Gollwitzer, M., Bender, J., & Rothmund, T. (2015). Social identity threat motivates science-discrediting online comments. PLoS ONE, 10(2): e0117476.

Rothmund, T., Bender, J., Nauroth, P. & Gollwitzer, M. (2015). Public concerns about violent video games are moral concerns - How moral threat can make pacifists susceptible to scientific and political claims against violent video games. European Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 769-783.

Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., Klimmt, C., Nauroth, P., & Bender, J. (2014). Gründe und Konsequenzen einer verzerrten Darstellung und Wahrnehmung sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschungsbefunde: Das Beispiel der „Killerspiele-Debatte“. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 17, 101-117.

Nauroth, P., Gollwitzer, M., Bender, J., & Rothmund, T. (2014). Gamers against science: The case of the violent video games debate. European Journal of Social Psychology, 44, 104-116.

Nauroth, P., Bender, J., Rothmund, T., & Gollwitzer, M. (2014). Die „Killerspiele“-Diskussion: Wie die Forschung zur Wirkung gewalthaltiger Bildschirmspiele in der Öffentlichkeit wahrgenommen wird. In T. Porsch & S. Pieschl (Hrsg.), Neue Medien und deren Schatten (S. 81-100). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe.

Bender, J., Rothmund, T., & Gollwitzer, M. (2013). Biased estimation of violent video game effects on aggression: Contributing factors and boundary conditions. Societies, 3, 383-398.

Sjöström, A., Sowka, A., Gollwitzer, M., Klimmt, C., & Rothmund, T. (2013). Exploring audience judgments of social science in media discourse: The case of the violent video games debate. Journal of Media Psychology, 25, 27-38.


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