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Developmental and Family Psychology

We study various topics in developmental psychology, with a focus on issues in family psychology.

The section represents developmental psychology across the life span but in research focuses mainly on adolescence and adulthood. Here we often take a family psychology perspective (for example, effects of divorce or parental conflict on development) and with a culturally sensitive approach (for example, intergenerational relationships in cultural comparison). We are currently developing the research area "Development of people with a migration background". It is important to us to view individuals in interaction with the contexts in which they live. We are committed to a resource orientation.

Research topics

Family development

Our studies on family development examine, for instance, the experience of burden and the resources of (ZHAW) university students who have a child. Here our research is guided by concepts of work-life balance, which in turn are frequently based on stress and resource theory approaches. The main research question deals with the associations between objective and perceived burdens, emotional and physical well-being, and academic performance.

Adolescent development

In adolescence one of the main developmental tasks is to achieve autonomy. This includes acting independently and competently in financial matters. The research study "Financial socialization" is investigating family and personal factors that play a role in the development of financial competence.

Development of people with a migration background

To research on people with a migration background we add a developmental psychology perspective that takes into consideration both risks and opportunities that this societal phenomenon entails.


The section is responsible for basic and specialization modules in developmental and personality psychology. In the bachelor’s and master’s programmes, the section ensures that our students in their later professional practice are able to base their actions and interventions on theory and research. We seek the right balance between a strong practice orientation and empirical and theoretical content.


In addition to the basic modules, the specialization courses prepare students for current fields of application, such as developmental and personality diagnostics, school psychology, occupational and career counselling, counselling in different phases of life and in crises, prevention, and geriatric psychology. We follow key changes in society and the market and take them up in the curriculum. In addition, our study programme promotes intercultural exchange and students’ intercultural competence.


  • Developmental and Personality Psychology I & II
  • Personality and Differential Psychology I & II
  • International and Interdisciplinary
  • Special Areas in Applied Developmental and Personality Psychology I, II, III & IV
  • School Psychology I & II
  • Counselling Areas in Developmental and Personality Psychology I, II, III & IV


Head of Section Developmental and Family Psychology



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    Be careful where you smile: Culture shapes judgments of intelligence and honesty of smiling individuals


    Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 40 101-116. Peer reviewed.

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    Development of self-esteem and self-concepts during early adolescence: The role of gender, puberty, and school transition


    Journal of Early Adolescence (online first) DOI: 10.1177/0272431615624841 Peer reviewed.

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    Adolescents’ willingness for intergenerational support: Relations to maternal parenting and life satisfaction in 14 cultures

    : Konferenzbeitrag.

    In: 17th European Conference of Developmental Psychology. Konferenz. (September). Braga, Portugal: EADP.

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    Effects of different facets of paternal and maternal control behaviour on the early adolescents’ perceived academic competence


    European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11 227-242. Peer reviewed.

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    Eine deutsche Version der Coparenting Relationship Scale


    Berichte aus der Entwicklungs- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie des Departements für Angewandte Psychologie (Nr. 1). Zürich: ZHAW , 1.

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    Folgen von Scheidungen für Kinder und Jugendliche

    : Tagungsreferat.

    In: Scheidung - Ursachen und Folgen. Fachtagung. (23. August 2013). Zürich: Klinische Psychologie Kinder/Jugendliche & Paare/Familien an der Universität Zürich.

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    Intergenerational conflict: The case of adult children and their parents


    In: Isabelle Albert; Dieter Ferring (Hg.). Intergenerational relations– - European perspectives on family and society . (131-145). Clifton, UK: : Policy Press.