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Well-being in the Digital World

The research group investigates the effects of digital technology usage on users' perception, cognition, emotions, and behavior. The aim is to identify the mechanisms that impact individual well-being and influence the perception of social processes.

Digital technologies have permeated all areas of human life. In addition to noticeable effects in the private sphere, both work and social processes have undergone dramatic changes. Not least, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated these changes. Research results on the effects of digital technology use are ambivalent, resulting in many open questions that remain regarding the specific psychological consequences, and mechanisms behind the effects. Against this background, this research group focuses on the role of digital technologies on users' perception, cognition, emotions, behavior, and well-being at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.

Digital Technologies and Well-being in the Private Sphere

Research has shown that contextual factors such as usage patterns, network structure, type of social information, algorithmic optimizations, as well as platform and user characteristics play a crucial role in how the use of digital technologies affects users. An overarching goal of the research group is to gain a deeper understanding of these contextual factors. Furthermore, the focus is on the development of interventions that positively impact individuals (e.g., well-being, behavioral changes) as well as the objective assessment of actual technology use.

The following research questions are central to this subproject:

  • What is the influence of the (actual) use of digital technologies on different aspects of psychological well-being, perception, and behavior of individuals?
  • What are the mechanisms or contextual factors behind these effects?
  • What can be done to counteract the adverse developments?

Digital Technologies and Societal Impacts

Micro-level developments can lead to collectively larger challenges that affect society as a whole. Research highlights that digital technologies can trigger certain psychological processes, thereby influencing society's perceptions and behaviors. However, research linking technology use to psychological processes as primary triggers of (un)desired societal developments remains scattered. The research group investigates how digital technologies elicit (in)desirable thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors that affect individuals and may, in the end, also cause consequences for society and the economy.

The following research questions are central to this subproject:

  • What role do digital technologies play in society-relevant perceptions, attitudes, and decisions?
  • To what extent can specific psychological processes induced by technology use contribute to socially (un)desirable developments?
  • And what possibilities are there to mitigate and prevent undesirable developments?

Digital Technologies and Well-being at Work

The use of digital technologies in the workplace has become more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite many benefits, increasing digitization in the workplace has also been associated with overwork, stress, role conflict, fewer social interactions, and even mental illnesses. Considering that a large share of companies plans to stick to home-based working models, these tools will continue to play a major role in employees' work practices and daily lives. At the same time, existing knowledge about the role of these communication technologies in the work context is highly fragmented and fraught with the measurement problems of technology use.

The following research questions are central to this subproject:

  • What is the impact of the increasing use of digital communication tools at the individual and organizational levels?
  • What are the mechanisms or contextual factors behind these outcomes?
  • And what can be done to counter possible negative consequences?