New publication – Family matters: Rethinking the Psychology of human social motivation

What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly connected to relevant comparative and evolutionary work on other species, and in the case of kin care, these bonds have been less well researched. Examining varied sources of data from 27 societies around the world, we found that people generally view familial motives as primary in importance and mate-seeking motives as relatively low in importance. Compared with other groups, college students, single people, and men place relatively higher emphasis on mate seeking, but even those samples rated kin-care motives as more important. Furthermore, motives linked to long- term familial bonds are positively associated with psychological well-being, but mate-seeking motives are associated with anxiety and depression. We address theoretical and empirical reasons why there has been extensive research on mate seeking and why people prioritize goals related to long-term familial bonds over mating goals. Reallocating relatively greater research effort toward long-term familial relationships would likely yield many interesting new findings relevant to everyday people’s highest social priorities.

Access @
Open [preprint] @

Announcement of research agenda “Perceiving old age”

Research agenda "Perceiving old age"

In the in-house colloquium of the Institute for Gerontology, University of Vechta, I announced what my research agenda on the topic of perception of old age is. The goal of this research agenda is to examine how older people are perceived across cultures, which, I expect, has consequences for how younger people behave towards this age group. These have been addressed in the literature, however a program that seeks to identify and integrate the links between individual, societal and life-transition factors is still missing.

My approach is three-fold:
1. Investigate person-centered factors that motivate and guide the perception of old age. Under this umbrella-term, I seek to examine factors such as personal value preferences and worries, as well as threat perception and personality attributes. My expectation is that there other relevant person-centered factors that in the current literature are under-researched (for example values and worries) but can provide additional explanation to why and how people perceive old age.
2. Consider society-related factors that shape and form the identity, personality and other psychological traits of individuals in order to further understand the reasons for a rather ageist image of older people. Under this overall term, I expect that cultural characteristics, such as culture-relevant value preferences and cultural particularities like individualism or long-term orientation, and traits of the society itself, such as breadth of macro worries, will add to the holistic explanation of ageism.
3. Examine varying life-transition scenarios and in which way and degree is the perception of older people modified by them. This line of studies is limited to three main scenarios, namely, migration, the aging process itself, and inter-generational interactions. My expectation is that changes, the core process of these life-transition scenarios, will either reinforce or weaken any existing negative images of older people. The more intriguing question is however, what elements exactly in these three scenarios are responsible for such adjustments/adaptation in perception of old age.

To further develop and bring into fruition these research topics, I have reached out to colleagues who are experts in their field.
The current collaborations are:
1. With Jorge Vala (ICS, Lisbon), for a project on the role of threat in the perception of older people. The goal is to take a dual-culture approach (Germany and Portugal) in identifying experimentally the effects of threat perception on varying behavioral measurements related to old age discrimination.
2. With Melanie Vauclair (ISCTE, Lisbon) and Maksim Rudnev (ISCTE, Lisbon & HSE, Russia), for a project on the implications of culture-level value typologies on explaining why seemingly there is discrepancy in the stereotypes of older people that individuals subjectively hold and their culture-relevant stereotypes of older people.

Independently, I am working on two additional projects:
1. ‘Horizontal transmission of stereotypes of older people from native population to immigrants’, a project that seeks to answer the research question whether immigrants can incorporate the stereotype-information concerning older people that they learn in their host cultures into their existing beliefs. The manuscript has been submitted.
2. ‘(Dis)Agreeing with my country’s stereotypes of older people’, a project that seeks to understand whether personal value preferences and worries can provide explanation to the seeming discrepancy between what people subjectively believe and what the prevailing cultural beliefs of older people are in their cultures and subsequently whether there are cross-cultural differences in this discrepancy. A manuscript is in preparation.

Presentation at SPARC Group, ICS Lisbon

stanciu vortrag sparc groupUpcoming presentation at the SPARC research group at ICS, Lisbon based on our currently under review manuscript – Witte, Stanciu & Boehnke / A new empirical approach to inter-cultural comparisons of value preferences based on Schwartz’s theory.

The presentation will first provide an overview of the current methodology to arrive from individual level value preferences at culture level value preferences – the averaging approach. Next, we point out a number of critical issues in this methodology and suggest an alternative approach, one whereby culture level value preferences represent frequency scores of the ten individual level value preferences. Throughout the presentation, we use data of two rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS) to document our claims and methodological procedure. We show parallels between results of the two methods and also the relevant differences. The talk ends with a suggestion regarding using a methodological sound approach to measure culture values and be skeptical of one that does not meet basic assumptions from a theory of measurement stand-point.

Two successful conferences, the Annual CRS (Birmingham) and the 51st DGPs (Frankfurt am Main)

September was a busy month, with two presentations in two countries less than 30 hours apart. Both were successful in terms of networking and reception.

For the first time ever, I presented at a meeting of political researchers. The Annual Conference of the Conflict Research Society (CRS) in Birmingham, UK, was small, vivid nevertheless. My contribution was to the social psychology panel organized by H.Blumberg. I was the representative of our research team (Oscar Smallenbroek, Regina Arant, and Klaus Boehnke) and gave a report of our work on how value development trajectories into adulthood can have an impact on political engagement in mid-adulthood (more on the project here).

CRS_screen shot slide

One of the findings can be seen in the image above. In our longitudinal data, we find that value preferences change from 1999 to 2017 in a sample of German adolescents and teenagers. In a subsequent model we show that this value trajectory chance can predict political behavior, however, the evidence is inconclusive. We are optimistic that this work will soon be submitted for publication.

Also for the first time ever, I attended the congress of the German association for psychology (DGPs). The meeting in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, was massive, accommodating approximately 2,800 colleagues. My contribution was to the paper session “D27 Interkulturelle und lebenslange Gruppenprozesse [intercultural and life long group processes].” I represented the work group that includes Erich H. Witte and Klaus Boehnke and gave a report on our attempt to provide an alternative methodology to arrive at values at the culture level.

DGPs_screen shot slide

Our main argument is that in the literature there has been a need for an alternative methodology. Yet, the status quo of interpreting the average scores over individuals in a country as culture level indicators of values has remained without a ‘competitor.’ We suggest an approach that uses frequencies of all ten individual level value types as a more adequate description of values at the culture level from a theory of measurement point of view. Above, the image illustrates these frequencies and their rank order in Germany in 2012, based on the 6th round of ESS data. Clearly, a high proportion of Germans (33.7%) could not be classified according to the theory of value preferences at the individual level. We are hopeful that this method will soon be published.

Open access to data now available (edit: 13.12.2017)

Data set reported in Stanciu (2015) and Stanciu, Cohrs, Hanke, & Gavreliuc (2017) is now available to download, as well as it is the used study questionnaire and suggestion on how to compute scales for dimensions and sub-dimensions of stereotype content.

Likewise, data set reported in Stanciu & Vos (2017) as well as all relevant study materials are now available to download.

To access these files, please visit the Data page.


Reception of doctoral certificate

PhD defense53Post-defense photo with my supervisors.

Upon finalizing the dissertation publication requirements, on August 23, 2017 I have received the doctoral certificate from the joint institute of BIGSSS (Jacobs University Bremen & University of Bremen). A successful defense colloquium was held on February 14, 2017 at Jacobs University Bremen, and, shortly on March 6, 2017, the certificate was issued.

My dissertation is available here.
The slides of my defense presentation are available here.