Prof. Dr. Stephan Bongard

Research Interests

I am primarily interested in the investigation of individual differences in the regulation of stress and emotion using quantitative, psychometric and psychophysiological methods in experimental and quasi-experimental designs. In these studies we usually take readings of blood pressure, heart rate and hormonal parameters (saliva cortisol) as indicators of stress responses. My current research projects are grouped in four areas.

Individual Differences and Health Psychology of Migration and Acculturation Stress

Acculturation is defined as those processes of adaptation which result from continuous encounter of members from different cultures. We have developed the Frankfurt Acculturation Scale FRACC) which conceptualizes a migrant's strategy of adaptation as a continuous bi-dimensional characteristic of the individual. The scale consists of two independent factors: 'Orientation towards the culture of origin' and ''Orientation towards the host culture'. Our studies show different distributions of acculturation strategies dependent of the ethnic group of the migrants. Further, we found associations between acculturation strategy and health complains and depressive symptoms in adolescents.

Khat Research Project

Khat (Catha edulis) is an evergreen shrub that grows in countries bordering the Red Sea including countries in East Africa and the Arabic Peninsula . Traditionally its leaves are chewed in these regions. Chewing the leaves of the khat shub evokes a mild amphetamine like effect. With the increasing number of immigrants form this region khat chewing also increases in European countries. However, there is a paucity of systematic researchon the short- and long term effects of habitual khat chewing. Within the international research network organized as the 'Khat Research Programm' (Link zu ) we investigate the effects of khat chewing. Beside others we examine the effects of khat chewing on emotion regulation, particularly on anger, and khat chewing in relation to acculturation processes of immigrants from East Africa.

In this research area I am cooperating with  Prof. Mustafa al'Absi, Ph.D., Medical School of the University of Minnesota and with  Dr. Michael Odenwald, Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz.

Music Psychology of Stress and Emotion Regulation

Numerous studies investigate the influence of music presentations on psychological variables like e.g. mood, memory, or wellbeing. However, these studies mostly focus on the effects of passive music reception. We however, expect more significant effects of music if it is processed actively as it is done when people sing, dance or play an instrument. In our study we focus on the effects health psychological and emotion regulation effects of music performances (singing, dancing, playing instruments). Within the framework of positive psychology we consider musical related activities as a salutogenetic  factor, which is used by individuals depending on their personality traits in order to regulate stress.

In this area I am cooperating with Prof. Dr. G. Kreutz, Department of Music, Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg

Heath Psychology of Anger and Anger Expression

Here we consider the anger expression style not as usual as trait independent from the  situations in which it is experienced but as a domain specific behavior which varies according to the domain (home, work, free time) where it is experienced. Consequently we suggest to assess anger expression domain specific. Further we hypothesize that neither an open anger expression style nor anger suppression is generally associated with psychosomatic complains but that rather a habitual expression style that is inadequate to the situational demands is associated with stress.

In this area I am also cooperating with  Prof. Mustafa al'Absi, Ph.D.,  Medical School of the University of Minnesota