Mission Statement

Our programs of research focus on establishing how individual characteristics (e.g., personality, cognitions, emotions, genes) and environmental and social factors (e.g., peers, parents, schools) interact to influence the development of a range of child and adolescent psychopathologies. In particular, we study

  1. micro-social (observed) imitation processes and the impact of environmental cues and pressures on developmental pathways of psychopathology,
  2. the development of implicit and explicit cognitive associations, their biological and social underpinnings, and their effects on the onset of problem behavior,
  3. the impact of genetic variation – in relation to individual and social characteristics – on psychopathology, and
  4. the effects and underlying mechanisms of evidence-based prevention and treatment programs, particularly those focused on substance use and internalizing psychopathologies.

We pay particular attention to transitions in the onset of substance use, problematic eating behaviors, internalizing pathologies and relationship problems.


Scientific progress can only be achieved by

  1. adopting a multi-disciplinary approach across research programs,
  2. applying methodological plurality across studies whereby we combine the most rigorous designs with innovative approaches pioneered in our own group, and
  3. combining basic scientific inquiry with applied questions such that both mutually inform each other and advance theory and practice.

The backbone of our research consists of longitudinal multi-method studies on psychopathology, substance use and intimate relations. In recent years, we have focused on conducting expe- rimental-observational studies, systematic real-time observational studies to assess interactional patterns, studies that focused on implicit associations, and gene-environment studies. From 2006 onward, we committed ourselves to the translation of our basic and experimental research to the development of a promising set of health promotion programs, together with leading national and municipal mental health institutions and agencies. These partnerships have led to 10 ongoing randomized controlled trials (RCT) in 2011, all with external funding.