Kudos Column: Dr. Frank Asbrock
The kudos column showcases the work of junior political psychologists. Whether you want to know more about what political psychology is, want to see how junior scholars have shaped their careers, want to find research collaborators or want to contribute and get your name out there, this column is for you!
This month we are showcasing the work of Dr. Frank Asbrock.
I am a lecturer/assistant professor in Social Psychology at the University of Marburg in Germany. I received my PhD in 2008 from the University of Bielefeld (Germany), where I examined discriminatory behavior based on fundamental dimensions of social perception.
Research and recent publications
Most of my research is on intergroup relations and the impact of individual differences. I analyze how ideological attitudes motivate group members to enhance or attenuate social hierarchies. This includes, for example, the perception of outgroups in terms of stereotypes and the impact on prejudice and discrimination. Recently, I focused mainly on the impact of ideological attitudes on intergroup contact. My collaborators and I showed that right-wing-authoritarianism and social dominance orientation both increase the effectiveness of intergroup contact on prejudice, but they do so differently depending on the context or target group (Asbrock et al., 2012; 2013). That is, highly biased people benefit more strongly from intergroup contact, but only under specific circumstances. We think that this research provides valuable insight into understanding the effectiveness of intergroup contact and helps to improve interventions from an individual difference perspective.
In another recent line of research I look into health outcomes of discrimination and intergroup contact experiences. We analyzed, for example, the experience of stress during intergroup encounters or the effects of discrimination and various coping strategies on psychological health.
Finally, I am interested in nonverbal behaviors in social interactions, a research line related to leadership and negotiations. Effective leadership and interaction with others is not only about appearing competent and powerful: We can show that even unintentional expressions of affiliation can alter the neuroendocrine level and increase empathy toward others.
My position as a lecturer gives me the chance to gain plenty of teaching experience. Political Psychology is not part of the regular Psychology curriculum in Germany and is therefore taught only in very few places. However, as part of the Social Psychology curriculum I can teach Political Psychology topics, like Intergroup Relations, Prejudice & Discrimination, and Authoritarianism. I have also taught Political Psychology introductory courses for experienced students. I realized that students are very interested in this field, as it focuses much more on political issues than most other courses. Generally, students are very talk-active and demanding in these courses. In order to address this demand, the students prepare readings at home and we spend most of the time in class discussing political issues from theoretical viewpoints. It is a lot of fun and provides a good opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real world issues. I have also started teaching negotiation classes, which has a strong link to Political Psychology. Even though the students deal with economic decisions in the various exercises and case studies we do, the basic strategies apply to any kind of negotiation, also in politics.
Political Psychology is only a minor subject at German universities. Recently, however, there are some attempts to change this and I am positive that Political Psychology will grow in Germany and that the research will diversify in the coming years. My next personal career goal is to become a full professor, which provides me with much more influence in participating in the development of Political Psychology as a research field in Germany. My future research focus will be on social equality in intergroup relations and its outcomes, especially for minorities and low-status groups. I am very happy that I have various national and international collaborators that broaden my knowledge and help me develop new research perspectives on these issues. Finally, I consider one thing especially important for my academic career: Two years ago I became father of twins. Since then, the boys teach me to be curious and open-minded every day. And I try to teach them that crying or just being angry does not really solve problems, but finding creative solutions does. I think I can learn a lot from this for my research.
Asbrock, F., Christ, O., Duckitt, J., & Sibley, C. G. (2012). Differential effects of intergroup contact for authoritarians and social dominators: A Dual Process Model perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 477-490. doi:10.1177/0146167211429747
Asbrock, F., Gutenbrunner, L., & Wagner, U. (2013). Unwilling, but not unaffected. Imagined contact effects for authoritarians and social dominators. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 404-412. doi:10.1002/ejsp.1956