LFE

Profile of the Leipzig Research Center
for Early Child Development (LFE)

If you are interested in one of the topics, please contact the responsible project manager (in brackets after the project name).

Students of the M.Sc. Early Childhood Research can find the guidelines for writing a Master’s Thesis here.

Educational Psychology (AG Saalbach):

Interested students should visit the homepage of the Department of Educational Psychology to find out about research projects in which it is currently possible to work on an academic thesis.
Furthermore, you will find information about registration deadlines and guidelines for writing theses at the Chair of Educational Psychology. Then use the form linked there to register your interest in working on a research project and writing an exam thesis at this chair.

Early Childhood Development and Culture (AG Haun)

1) Project: (Pro-) social interactions and their underlying positive emotions in early childhood.

As previous studies have shown, children’s social behaviour in the first two years of life falls primarily into two categories, joint action and helping. Current debates in the existing literature increasingly revolve around the underlying motivations of these behaviours. Studies also show that children show more positive emotions, as measured by body posture changes, after helping both themselves and others. However, very little is still known about whether both helping interactions and shared actions are intrinsically rewarding from very early in life. This is the question we want to address: Do helping interactions as well as joint actions lead to an increase in positive emotions in young children and how are the responses to both types of interactions related? In order to investigate emotions, we will conduct a behavioural study with 14 and 24 month old children, measuring posture (Microsoft Kinect Technology) after joint actions and helping interactions will be carried out.

Tasks:

  • Conducting a behavioural study with young children in the LFE
  • Data preparation and analysis with statistical software R
  • Writing a thesis

Requirements:

  • Ability to work independently
  • Interest in learning a new method (Microsoft Kinect)
  • High reliability
  • Very good knowledge of German
  • Ideally experience in conducting studies with young children

Planned time period for conducting the study and writing the paper:

  • Start of testing currently planned for April / May this year.
  • Processing time about 10 months
  • The start and processing time depends on the corona situation.

If you are interested, feel free to contact Nele Becker.
We are looking forward to our cooperation.

2) Project: “Affective object encoding in infancy”

Previous studies have shown that infants use the gaze direction of others to focus on and learn about objects in the environment (socio-cognitive processing). However, very little is known about the affective component of object encoding and learning. Do infants learn better when their interaction partner shows affective facial expressions? If so, does this depend on the specific affect the partner shows? Or is there more to objects than just their encoding: do facial expressions of the interaction partner transmit some kind of social relevance to the object which infants evaluate when they are confronted with the object again (e.g. they avoid objects which previously were associated with a fearful face but approach objects which previously were associated with a happy face)? To answer these questions, eye tracking studies will be performed with infants at the age of 4 – 10 months.:

  • Based on the literature and a given paradigm, the student will design his/her own eye tracking study
  • Prepare stimuli
  • Perform the eye tracking task with infants
  • Analyze data using self-written scripts in R
  • Write thesis
  • High motivation and interest in socio-affective development
  • Ability to work independently
  • High conscientiousness
  • Fluent German (for testings), but it is possible that two students share this topic and only one of the students will be the leader in the testings
  • High motivation and ideally experience to work with parents and young infants

Planned period of time for conducting the study and writing the thesis: About 10 months (but data acquisition depends on the Corona situation – testing online could be an option).

If you are interested, please contact Christine Michel.
We are looking forward to our cooperation.

3) Project: “I like what you look at.”

Previous literature shows that adults like such objects better which another person looked at. However, little to nothing is known about this effect in early childhood. Does the gaze of another person influence children’s choice in a naturalistic setting? In this online study, we will ask parents to perform a given task with their children at home (choice task: Which t-shirt do you want to wear?) while they manipulate their gaze to the objects of choice. Parents will be asked to videotape this situation and upload it to the Uni server. These videos will be analyzed afterwards. :

  • Design the study
  • Implement this novel online study design (including ethics)
  • Perform the study (e.g. prepare example videos and insructions for parents, recruit parents)
  • Analyze data
  • Write thesis
  • High motivation and interest in online studies and early social cognition
  • Ability to work independently
  • High conscientiousness
  • Good German skills (for communication with parents) are preferred

Planned period of time for conducting the study and writing the thesis: About 10 months.

If you are interested, please contact Christine Michel.
We are looking forward to our cooperation.

4) Project: “Je ne regrette rien.”

Making decisions can be hard. Making a wrong decision can be worse and lead to regret. However, in some situations one cannot know which decision is right and which decision is wrong, still some people encounter themselves struggling with self-doubt and regret while others do not. In this project we will start to look into interindividual differences in regret (e.g. parenting). As we are just starting with this topic, the student will be highly involved in doing research on existing findings in the literature, finding a research question and setting up a study. The topic, thus, is rather open and only suited for a student who is motivated and happy to develop their own research question and to independently get into this topic. :

  • Literature review on the development of regret in childhood
  • Extracting open questions in the literature on regret
  • Potentially design a study and test children (depending on the corona situation)
  • High motivation and interest in socio-affective development and to independently dive into a new topic
  • Ability to work independently
  • High conscientiousness
  • Ability and motivation to extract your own research question
  • Fluent German skills in case data acquisition is planned

Planned period of time for conducting the study and writing the thesis: About 12 months (testing depends on the corona situation, it is possible to write a theoretical thesis)

If you are interested, please contact Christine Michel.
We are looking forward to our cooperation.

Cognitive Anthropology (AG Musholt)

  • Only unsolicited applications with own topic suggestions possible
  • Requirements: Knowledge of philosophical theories and approaches as well as ability to work independently

Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (AG Schmitz):

Interested students please inform themselves directly on the homepage of AG Schmitz.