Have you ever wondered how your personality changes over the course of your life, or what different psychopathological disorders may look like indifferent cultures? Well, here's your chance to get your answers!
The start of the congress is fast approaching, and I hope you are as excited as we are! There will be more than 20 talks given by psychology professors from all over the world for you to attend, listen to, discuss, or just enjoy. Today I'm going to introduce you to two of the talks you can attend, to help you decide if this is something for you. So, let me introduce you to Prof. Dr. Wiebke Bleidorn and her research on personality change, and Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker and his research on cultural clinical psychology.
Prof. Dr. Bleidorn conducts research in the area of personality development, focusing primarily on the causes, mechanisms, and consequences of personality change across the lifespan[i]. She is originally from Germany, where she received her doctorate summa cum laude from Bielefeld University in 2010[ii]. After a few years as a postdoctoral researcher, she eventually embarked on a career as a professor, lecturing in the Netherlands and the United States, before moving to Switzerland two years ago. She currently chairs the Department of Differential Psychology and Diagnostics at the University of Zurich and is president of the Association for Research in Personality (ARP), among other things[iii].
In her talk, Prof. Dr. Bleidorn will talk about how personality changes across the lifespan and how certain life events can trigger personality changes. Personality, or personality traits, can be described as “[…] relatively enduring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish individuals from one another”[iv]. However, although their nature is defined as enduring, traits do not appear tobe perfectly stable across the lifespan[v]. For example, there is evidence of significant individual changes in people’s Big Five personality traits throughout adulthood[vi]. For those new to the field of personality psychology, the Big Five traits are a set of five personality traits well known and recognized by psychologists, consisting of extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and emotional stability. The changes in the Big Five traits were the greatest in emerging adulthood, suggesting that the transition to adulthood may be a critical period for personality development[vii].
Causes of a change in personality traits may be biological or environmental, such as genetic factors or changes in social roles[viii]. There has also been a lot of research on the role of life events in personality changes, such as transitions in romantic relationships, job changes and parenthood[ix]. If you’re curious about how and why life events change personality traits, and what new directions in the research of personality change have emerged, you should attend Prof. Dr. Bleidorn’s talk on Wednesday afternoon, titled “Life Events and Personality Change”.
Prof. Dr. Dr. Maercker is also a German professor and chairs the Department of Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention at the University of Zurich. His principal areas of interest are Trauma and stress-related disorders: PTSD, Prolonged Grief Disorder, Adjustment Disorder; Mental disorders of the elderly; Electronic mental health and Cultural clinical psychology[x]. Andreas Maercker first earned a doctorate in medicine from the Humboldt University of Berlin in 1986 before completing his studies in psychology the following year. In 1988, he tried to flee the German Democratic Republic, but was captured and imprisoned for ten months. However, this did not stop him from pursuing psychology, as he offered psychotherapy sessions for fellow inmates before the Federal Republic of Germany could get him out of prison in 1989[xi]. In 1992, he earned a psychological doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, where he had worked together with Paul B. Baltes PhD on the research field of trauma, possibly influenced by his personal experiences before and during the fall of the Berlin Wall. For several years, he’s been lecturing at the University of Zurich. He also was the chair of the “Working group on stress-related disorders” in preparation of the ICD-11. One of his main achievements is the “Janus-Face-Model of Posttraumatic Growth” in the field oftrauma and stress-related disorders.
In his talk, Prof. Dr. Dr. Maercker will discuss the sub-discipline of clinical cultural psychology, which focuses on the relationship between cultures (or societies) and mental health. Culture in this context can be defined as a pattern of and for behaviors captured and communicated through symbols, ideas, and especially their associated values[xii]. Different cultures can be classified along dimensions such as power distance (the differences in the distribution of power in a society), individualism (vs. collectivism), and masculinity (vs. femininity; the division of emotional gender roles), among others [xiii]. For example, the clinical picture of depression in Western, individualistic countries is slightly different from its counterparts shinkei suijaku resp. shenjing shuairuo in the more collectivistic countries Japan and China[xiv]. The DSM-5 also includes several culture-specific syndromes in its appendix, such as the aforementioned shenjing shuairuo, taijin kyofusho, a form of social phobia common in Japan and Korea, and khyâl cap, aform of panic attack common among traumatized Cambodian refugees with a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)[xv].
Professor Maercker will discuss some of these cultural differences in PTSD through the concept of cultural scripts, which describe (psychological) explanations and attributions of meaning in our culture[xvi]. He will present a cultural perspective on trauma that attempts to help trauma survivors to be recognized and receive more culturally appropriate support in our diverse societies. If you are interested in clinical psychopathology and its cultural aspects, you don’t miss his talk on Tuesday morning.
So, I hope that you now have an idea of the kind of interesting psychological topics that will be awaiting you next week. If you are interested in finding out more about them, or if you would like to have the opportunity to discuss them with experts, I'm sure that Professor Bleidorn and Professor Maercker would be delighted to have you attend their talks. Of course, there are many other interesting talks by professors from all over the world. If you'd like to know more about the lectures at our congress, check out our schedule on the website.
I hope to see you there!
[i] Klostermann, A. (2022, 13. September). https://nachrichten.idw-online.de/2022/09/13/wiebke-bleidorn-erhaelt-den-charlotte-und-karl-buehler-preis-der-deutschen-gesellschaft-fuer-psychologie
[ii] Bleidorn, Wiebke. Curriculum vitae. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Jy7ogAC_6kP4DaKghHKCqopUZ8fJaRygjs6hNd3CixU/preview
[iv] Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., &Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life Events and Personality Trait Change: Life Events andTrait Change. Journal of Personality, 86(1), 83–96. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12286
[v] Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., &Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life Events and Personality Trait Change: Life Events andTrait Change. Journal of Personality, 86(1), 83–96. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12286
[vi] Schwaba, T., & Bleidorn, W.(2018). Individual differences in personality change across the adult lifespan. Journal of Personality, 86(3), 450–464. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12327
[vii] Schwaba, T., & Bleidorn, W.(2018). Individual differences in personality change across the adult lifespan. Journal of Personality, 86(3), 450–464. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12327
[viii] Specht, J., Bleidorn, W., Denissen, J. J. A., Hennecke, M.,Hutteman, R., Kandler, C., Luhmann, M., Orth, U., Reitz, A. K., &Zimmermann, J. (2014). WhatDrives Adult Personality Development? A Comparison of Theoretical Perspectivesand Empirical Evidence. European Journal of Personality, 28(3),216–230. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.1966
[ix] Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., &Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life Events and Personality Trait Change: Life Events andTrait Change. Journal of Personality, 86(1), 83–96. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12286
[x] Maercker, Andreas. Curriculum vitae. https://www.psychologie.uzh.ch/de/bereiche/hea/psypath/Team/Maercker-Andreas.html
[xi] Shokri, D. (2018, 6. Dezember). Traumaforschung: Erinnerung, dienicht vergehen will. FAZ.NET. https://www.faz.net/aktuell/karriere-hochschule/erinnerung-die-nicht-vergehen-will-der-traumaforscher-andreas-maercker-15923260.html
[xii] Kroeber, A. L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1952). Culture: a critical review ofconcepts and definitions. Papers. Peabody Museum of Archaeology &Ethnology, Harvard University, 47(1), viii, 223.
[xiii] Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures:The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture,2(1). https://doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014
[xiv] Wikipedia. (2005, 23.Juli). Neurasthenie. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurasthenie;
Maercker, A. Personal communicationthrough his lecture, Fall, 2021
[xv] Jacob, K. S. (2014). DSM-5 andculture: The need to move towards a shared model of care within a more equalpatient–physician partnership. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 7,89–91.; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajp.2013.11.012; American Psychiatric Association.(2022). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5thed., text rev.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425787;
Psychrembel online. Taijin Kyofusho. https://www.pschyrembel.de/Taijin%20Kyofusho/P05KR;
Hinton,D. E., Pich, V., Marques, L., Nickerson, A., & Pollack, M. H. (2010). Khyâlattacks: a key idiom of distress among traumatized cambodia refugees. Culture,medicine and psychiatry, 34(2), 244–278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-010-9174-y
[xvi] Maercker, A. Personal communication through hislecture, Fall, 2021
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