In the scope of my research, I am interested in building a bridge between clinical and basic psychological research. In particular, I am interested in understanding the development and maintenance of Major Depression and how this burdensome condition may be treated. As depression is often associated with indecisiveness and rational-analytic cycles of rumination, I am interested in investigating the hypothesis that patients with depression have lost contact to their gut feelings. Preliminary empirical evidence speaks both for as well as against this idea (seemingly depending on intuition type).
Moreover, because intuitions are helpful and adaptive for every-day life, I am interested in exploring the question how intuition may be enhanced.
Concerning this latter question, the concept of mindfulness represented a further focal point within my research, influenced by my doctoral supervisor Prof. Johannes Michalak. Mindfulness means to focus one's attention to the Here-and-Now and to get aware of present feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations without judging them. The efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions has been empirically supported in the past years for a wide range of psychological disorders. In particular, mindfulness was shown to be effective in preventing relapse in patients with recurrent depression. At the University of Hildesheim and in collaboration with Prof. Sascha Topolinski (University of Würzburg and Cologne), we have investigated the impact of mindfulness on intuition. We assumed that a mindful state would make participants more inclined to use their intuitions. Preliminary results, however, indicated an association opposite to our hypotheses.
As I am more generally interested in why and how mindfulness exhibits its positive effects on psychological well-being, I investigated together with Prof. Sander L. Koole at the Emotion Regulation Lab (VU University, Amsterdam) the impact of mindfulness on implicit emotion regulation. Our findings demonstrate that the emotion regulative effect of mindfulness can not only be found for explicit, self-reported emotional responses, but also for more hidden, implicit emotional responses.
Presently, Dr. Thea Zander (University of Basel) and I examine within a joined project the impact of different emotional states on intuitive judgments. Furthermore, we investigate the conditions and consequence of intuitive decision-making in every-day situations.