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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.



Head of Section Developmental and Family Psychology