Alexandra M. Freund, Prof. Dr. phil.
Professor, Department of Applied Psychology: Life-Management
Prof. Dr. Alexandra M. Freund
University of Zurich
Department of Psychology
Applied Psychology: Life-Management
8050 Zurich / Switzerland
|++41 44 635 7200
++41 44 635 7209
- Processes of developmental regulation; successful development
- Motivation across the life span
- Development of self-related cognitions and emotions across the life span
- Lifelong Learning
Generally speaking, I am interested in process of developmental regulation across the lifespan. What are the basic processes guiding individual behavior and experience over time? How do we become who we are? To address these «big questions», I adopted the lifespan perspective of the model of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC, Baltes & Baltes, 1990) and elaborated it in an action-theoretical framework (e.g., Freund & Baltes, 2000). The central assumption guiding my research is that individuals actively shape the direction and level of their development through selecting, pursuing, and maintaining goals in interaction with social or environmental opportunity structures.
Recently, I have proposed a model that distinguishes between two broad levels of goal representations (Freund, in press):
(1) Age-related expectations: These expectations are reflected in social norms (e.g., age for starting school) that inform about age-related opportunity structures and goal-relevant resources. Personal beliefs about the appropriate timing and sequencing of goals are informed but not determined by social norms and expectations. They also reflect individual values and experiences (e.g., appropriate age to start dating).
(2) Personal goals: Together, social and personal expectations directly influence behavior and also the personal goals a person selects and pursues (e.g., being successful in one's profession). In addition to consciously represented personal goals, unconscious goals and motives (e.g., achievement motivation) influence behavior and development. I assume that these levels of goals interact in complex ways. For instance, age-related social expectations might directly influence behavior (as discussed in the literature on the perception-action link), which, via self-observational processes, might contribute to conscious personal goals that direct future behavior.
Although goal-processes are assumed to be important in guiding behavior over time and across situations, in adapting to changing environmental contexts, and in managing resources at any age, middle adulthood represents a particularly interesting period in life to investigate goal focus. It is during this phase of life when in some domains performance can be improved, while in other domains losses are impending. Therefore, goal processes should be particularly important in middle adulthood.
In order to empirically investigate of the role goals in lifespan development, in my lab we use a multi-methods approach encompassing self-report, experiments, and process-oriented studies. For instance, using a questionnaire approach, we ask participants to indicate whether they engage in behaviors of goal-selection and goal-pursuit either when oriented towards achieving gains versus avoiding or counteracting losses. Using diary, experience sampling, and behavioral measures, we investigate the impact of intergoal-relations (e.g., conflicting vs. facilitating goals) or goal-orientation (e.g., gain vs. loss orientation) on engagement in goal-relevant action, goal-achievement, and subjective well-being in everyday life. In addition, we investigate age-differential effects of goal focus on behavior, cognition, and emotion using experimental approaches.
- Freund, A. M., & Hennecke, M. (2011). Changing eating behaviour vs. losing weight: The role of goal focus for weight loss in overweight women. Psychology and Health. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/08870446.2011.570867
- Freund, A. M., Hennecke, M., & Mustafic, M. (2012). On means and ends: Process and outcome focus. In R. M. Ryan (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of human motivation (pp. 280-300). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Freund, A. M., Nikitin, J., & Ritter, J. O. (2009). Psychological consequences of longevity: The increasing importance of self-regulation in old age. Human Development, 52, 1–37. doi:10.1159/000189213
- Weiss, D., & Freund, A. M. (2012). Still young at heart: Negative age-related information motivates distancing from same-aged people. Psychology and Aging, 27, 173-180. doi:10.1037/a0024819
- Wiese, B. S., Seiger, C. P., Schmid, C. M., & Freund, A. M. (2010). Beyond conflict: Functional facets of the work-family interplay. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77, 104–117. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2010.02.011
Complete list of publications by Alexandra. M. Freund
|2002||Habilitation, Free University Berlin, Germany (Thesis Title: The role of goals for development)|
|2000–2005||Elected founding member of the Young Academy of the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the German Academy of Natural Sciences Leopoldina|
|1994||Dr. phil., Free University Berlin, Germany (Thesis Title: Who am I? Content, Structure, and Function of the Self-Definition in Old Age)|
|1989||Diploma in Psychology, Free University Berlin, Germany (Thesis Title: Self-Awareness and Life-Events as Predictors of Relapse in Alcoholics - A Test of G.J. Hull's Model)|
|2005–||Professor of Psychology, University of Zurich, Department of Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland|
|2003–2004||Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA|
|2003||Assistant Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Learning Sciences, and Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA|
|1994–2002||Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany|
|1993–1994||Post-Doctoral Fellow at Stanford University (advisor: Laura L. Carstensen), Stanford, CA, USA|
|1990–1993||Doctoral Student at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany (Thesis: Who am I? Content, structure and function of older persons’ self-definition; Thesis advisors: Paul B. Baltes and Jacqui Smith)|
|1988–1989||Research Assistant, Project: Prevention of behavioral disorders in school-children (PI: Prof. Dr. M. Manns), Free University Berlin, Germany|
|1987–1989||Research Assistant, Health psychology program (headed by Ralf Schwarzer), Free University Berlin, Germany|
|1987–1989||Counseling and rehabilitation of former psychiatry inpatients, social-psychiatric clinic, Berlin, Germany|