Project Description

Short Vita

I am a Professor of Personality Psychology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Research Fellow at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). My main research interests are in the areas of personality development and political psychology.

What I find exciting about this research initiative

Most people agree that social cohesion is valuable. However, they differ in what they consider to be a cohesive society. Is a cohesive society built on a common understanding on who we are and what we do? Or is it rather an inclusive society that respects diversity in its members and their ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving? Is a more cohesive society characterized by less conflicts? Or does a cohesive society allow conflicts to be dealt with? Understanding the multiple ways in which a diverse society deals with each other and how it deals with societal challenges is something I find particularly exciting about this research initiative.

What my discipline can contribute to this research initiative

Personality psychology deals with individual differences in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There is no ideal personality as every personality is valuable in its own way. However, societies consist of many different people with different personalities, which can lead to conflicts. Personality psychology can contribute to our understanding how people differ from each other in their values and attitudes, what they aim for and what they distance from and thereby forming a basis for understanding how they deal with each other. It deals with questions like: Who is a member of civil society, what are they protesting for and by which means? How do people change values and attitudes across time and in reaction to societal movements and events? And how does the individual impacts society and how does society impact the individual?

Five key publications

  • Denissen, J. J. A., Bleidorn, W., Hennecke, M., Luhmann, M. Orth, U., Specht, J., & Zimmermann, J. (2018). Uncovering the power of personality to shape income. Psychological Science, 29, 3-13.

  • Specht, J. (Ed.) (2017). Personality development across the lifespan. San Diego: Elsevier.

  • Specht, J., Bleidorn, W., Denissen, J. J. A., Hennecke, M., Hutteman, R., Kandler, C., Luhmann, M., Orth, U., Reitz, A. K., & Zimmermann, J. (2014). What drives adult personality development? A comparison of theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence. European Journal of Personality, 28, 216-230.

  • Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2013). Everything under control? The effects of age, gender, and education on trajectories of perceived control in a nationally representative German sample. Developmental Psychology, 49, 353-364.

  • Specht, J., Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S. C. (2011). Stability and change of personality across the life course: The impact of age and major life events on mean-level and rank-order stability of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 862-882.

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