Michael Häfner

Michael Häfner
Universität der Künste Berlin | UdK · Institut für Theorie und Praxis der Kommunikation

PhD

About

50
Publications
14,219
Reads
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937
Citations
Citations since 2017
12 Research Items
446 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
Additional affiliations
October 2014 - present
Universität der Künste Berlin
Position
  • Professor of (Communication) Psychology
September 2006 - October 2014
Utrecht University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
September 2004 - October 2006
University of Groningen
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (50)
Article
Full-text available
The present work investigates if ease/difficulty experiences associated with social comparison information shape the direction of the comparison. In particular, we test the hypothesis that standards of comparison associated with experiences of ease lead to assimilation whereas standards processed under experiences of difficulty result in comparativ...
Article
Full-text available
Salivation to food cues is typically explained in terms of mere stimulus-response links. However, food cues seem to especially increase salivation when food is attractive, suggesting a more complex psychological process. Adopting a grounded cognition perspective, we suggest that perceiving a food triggers simulations of consuming it, especially whe...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of review: Mindfulness-based interventions are becoming increasingly popular as a means to facilitate healthy eating. We suggest that the decentering component of mindfulness, which is the metacognitive insight that all experiences are impermanent, plays an especially important role in such interventions. To facilitate the application of de...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research on so-called embodied cognitions strengthens the current view that the body and the mind cannot be separated in producing cognitions. But how and when does the body talk to the mind? Drawing on the notion that bodily processes are transformed into mental action through experiences, it is argued that embodied cognitions should be mod...
Article
This study aims to explain the dynamics of compliance towards the measures to contain the coronavirus in 2020 by drawing on the theory of psychological reactance. We discuss our findings in a model that distinguishes between catalysts and buffers of reactance arousal on an individual level and hypothesises how these may lead to compliant or resista...
Article
Full-text available
From a social psychological perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated protective measures affected individuals’ social relations and their basic psychological needs. We aim to identify sources of need frustration (stressors) and possibilities to bolster need satisfaction (buffers). Particularly, we highlight emerging empirical research...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract Four experiments examined whether reactions to mental imagery can be reduced by the mindfulness component of decentering, i.e. the insight that experiences are impermanent mental states. In Experiment 1, participants vividly imagined an unpleasant autobiographical event (1a, 1b) or a rewarding food (1c). When instructed to adopt a decenter...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we reflect on 50 years of the journal Social Psychology. We interviewed colleagues who have witnessed the history of the journal. Based on these interviews, we identified three crucial periods in Social Psychology's history, that are (a) the early development and further professionalization of the journal, (b) the reunification of...
Preprint
Full-text available
The psychological literature has shown that sharing one’s emotions with loved ones does not alleviate distress. We challenge this notion. In four studies (N=2581), participants were asked to recall an emotional episode (Studies 1a-2: sadness, fear, affection, joy, anger) and write about this episode. Not replicating prior work, participants shared...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research suggests that people's representations of alcoholic beverages play an important role in drinking behavior. However, relatively little is known about the contents of these representations. Here, we introduce the property generation task as a tool to explore these representations in detail. In a laboratory study (N = 110), and a bar...
Article
Anger and aggression are frequent problems in deployed military personnel. A lowered threshold of perceiving and responding to threat can trigger impulsive aggression. This can be indicated by an exaggerated startle response. Fifty-two veterans with anger and aggression problems (Anger group) and 50 control veterans were tested using a startle expe...
Article
In the heat of the moment, people often impulsively take risks. Having unprotected sex, for example, can result in sexually transmitted infections. In three studies, we investigated a possible explanation for the increased sexual risk propensity of people in an impulsive state. In contrast to the intuitively appealing notion that they are less infl...
Article
Full-text available
Regulatory fit theory predicts that motivation and performance are enhanced when individuals pursue goals framed in a way that fits their regulatory orientation (promotion vs. prevention focus). Our aim was to test the predictions of the theory when individuals deal with change. We expected and found in three studies that regulatory fit is benefici...
Article
Full-text available
An abundance of research has investigated the effects of motivational states on size estimates, with initially a strong focus on the functionality of size overestimations. We suggest and found, however, that goal-relevant objects can be over- and underestimated, depending on which size is goal congruent. Specifically, we found that people with a th...
Article
Full-text available
People in an impulsive state are influenced mainly by the immediate incentive value of appetitive stimuli, whereas people in a reflective state usually also consider the (sometimes negative) long-term consequences of such stimuli. In order to consider all information, we hypothesize that, people in reflective states distribute their attention over...
Article
Full-text available
People in an impulsive state are influenced mainly by the immediate incentive value of appetitive stimuli, whereas people in a reflective state usually also consider the (sometimes negative) long-term consequences of such stimuli. In order to consider all information, we hypothesize that, people in reflective states distribute their attention over...
Article
Full-text available
In two experiments we show that the experience of processing fluency can be grounded in the motor system. We manipulated whether responses in a stimulus-response paradigm were congruent or incongruent with the orientation of graspable objects. Besides the typical affordance effect (Tucker & Ellis, 1998), namely a reaction time advantage for respons...
Article
Full-text available
Approach and avoidance are two basic motivational orientations. Their activation influences cognitive and perceptive processes: Previous work suggests that an approach orientation instigates a focus on larger units as compared to avoidance. Study 1 confirms this assumption using a paradigm that more directly taps a person's tendency to represent ob...
Article
Full-text available
Generally, the accessibility of goal-related constructs is inhibited upon goal fulfillment. In line with this notion, the current studies explored whether violent computer games may reduce relative accessibility of aggression if the game involves the fulfillment of an aggressive goal. Specifically, in Study 1, participants who watched a trailer for...
Article
The present research investigated whether accommodation, typically formulated as the tendency to deliberately inhibit a destructive reaction in response to a partner's destructive behavior, could also occur spontaneously. Supporting this notion, results of the first study revealed that participants respond to their partner's angry face with a spont...
Article
Full-text available
Recent findings suggest that the unconscious activation of the motivational orientations of approach and avoidance is accompanied by the adoption of a more global and a more local processing style, respectively. A global processing style, in turn, is assumed to instigate a focus on similarities whereas a local processing style is assumed to instiga...
Article
Full-text available
We suggest that while approaching a target, individuals are tuned to cues indicating closeness. Conversely, while avoiding a target, individuals are tuned to cues indicating distance. for social targets, this means that approach should be associated with similarities whereas avoidance should be associated with differences between the self and the t...
Article
This study addresses the advertising effectiveness of round and thin models. Integrating previous findings and theories, the authors predict and find that impulsive and reflective product evaluations as responses to thin and round advertisement models diverge. Specifically, four experiments indicate that impulsive product evaluations follow a primi...
Article
Full-text available
Based on research concerning the effects of familiarity experiences and the inclusion-exclusion model, this study tests the counterintuitive prediction that particularly famous and therefore familiar media images trigger assimilative comparisons. As a straightforward test, participants in Experiment 1a were presented with either famous or nonfamous...
Article
Full-text available
The main purpose of this study was to examine if disgust toward unpalatable foods would be reduced among food-deprived subjects and if this attenuation would occur automatically even under moderate levels of food deprivation. Subjects were either satiated or food deprived for 15 hours and electromyographic activity was recorded at the levator muscl...
Article
Full-text available
Whereas a host of findings Suggest that people find ways to deal with threatening comparison information, such defense mechanisms are not typically reported in research oil the effects of exposure to idealized media images. The present research considers some of the reasons for this void and proposes that also methodological reasons might play an i...
Article
Three studies examined how food deprivation influences the immediate valence of food stimuli as well as spontaneous motivational tendencies toward them. We assumed that immediate reactions towards food stimuli should be tuned to the basic needs of the organism. In Study 1, the immediate valence of food names as a function of need state was assessed...
Article
This research addressed the determinants of self-evaluative assimilation and contrast after comparison to highly attractive models. Experiment 1 showed that the manipulation of the headlines in advertising campaigns sufficed to influence the direction of spontaneous comparisons to idealized models for both women and men. Experiment 2 replicated the...
Article
The activation of social stereotypes can influence behavior outside of conscious awareness. It has been argued that while priming social stereotypes leads to behavioral assimilation, priming exemplars leads to behavioral contrast. Extending this theorizing, we argue that the activation of social stereotypes can also result in automatic behavioral c...

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Project (1)
Project
The global strategies to contain and control the corona pandemic lead to extensive, mostly legal, restrictions on public and private life. In situations like these, the theory of psychological reactance (Brehm 1966) suggests that these restrictions on freedom and the associated loss of control over the individuals' options for action will lead to resistance. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening in the current crisis: Instead of resenting, people encourage each other to follow the rules implemented by the political decision-makers. Moreover, people seem to be particularly satisfied with their government. This is especially fascinating as the German government was recently subjected to massive criticism and struggled with collapsing approval ratings (infratest dimap, 2020). How does that fit together? Research Question In line with the theory of psychological reactance (Brehm, 1966), we assume that the first reaction to the corona-regulations and the related restrictions on personal freedom is indeed reactance resulting in an urge to restore one’s freedom. Given, however, the factual impossibility of restoring personal freedom, reactance manifests itself in a feeling of dissonance (Brehm & Brehm, 1981). Interestingly, this uneasy feeling can ultimately only be resolved by agreeing to the measures of the regulations (Nisbet, Cooper & Garrett, 2015), potentially leading to the current growing popularity with the government parties and the decrease in the attractiveness of the political opposition, including populist movements. Despite the fact that this reasoning seems to perfectly match what is currently going on, theoretically, it is directly opposing the predictions of reactance theory (Traut-Mattausch et al., 2011). Following this thought, we understand reactance as a psychological process upstream of dissonance. We test our assumptions against the following hypotheses: H1: The perceived psychological reactance to the restriction of freedom in the context of the corona measures leads to cognitive dissonance and the effort to reduce it. H2: The stronger the feeling of psychological reactance, the stronger the cognitive dissonance experienced and, accordingly, the stronger the measures to reduce cognitive dissonance. The current situation offers a unique opportunity to investigate the interface between two basic social-psychological theories under real conditions. With the resulting knowledge, we can not only explain current changes in political attitudes and study basic mechanisms of political opinion-making, but we can potentially also deduct effective means of political communication with, for instance, populist movements.