Belfortstraße 20
D-79085 Freiburg
Tel.: (0761) 203-3029
Fax: (0761) 203-3023


New Books: 

  • Psychophysiologie in Labor und Feld (2005)
  • Heart and Emotion (2004)
  • Annahmen über den Menschen (2003)
  • Alltagsnahe Psychologie (2002)
  • Psychologische Interpretation (2002)
  • Progress in Ambulatory Assessment (2001)
  • Freiburger Monitoring System (FMS) (2001)
  • Fernsehen, Schule und Verhalten (2000)
  • Typ-A-Verhaltensmuster Statuskonferenz Psychokardiologie (2000)
  • Fragebogen zur Lebenszufriedenheit (FLZ) (2000)
  • Gesunde Kranke - kranke Gesunde (1998)
  • Ambulatory Assessment (1996)

  • Ongoing Research: (-2004)


    Research Program

    The Psychophysiology Research Unit was established in 1970 by Jochen Fahrenberg and Michael Myrtek who received a 5 years grant by the Volkswagenwerk Stiftung. The basic aim was the development of concepts and methods for the evaluation of psychophysiological relationships which seemed to be obvious in certain personality traits, in activation processes (emotions, stress), and in certain cardiovascular diseases and psychosomatic syndromes.

    This research program focussed, thus, on differential psychophysiology relating to theoretical concepts

    • autonomic lability, emotional lability (neuroticism sensu Eysenck), the assumed relationship of both concepts, and trait and state aspects of psychophysiological measures;
    • the multi-channel recording and pattern analysis of activation (stress reactions), in particular referring to person-dependent, stimulus-dependent and motivation-dependent patterning of responses;
    • psychological and psychophysiological aspects of certain cardiovascular diseases (mainly coronary disease, hypertension) and certain psychosomatic syndromes, relating to the outcome of rehabilitation;

    The research methodology designed to assess individual differences and patters of activation, included multi-channel recordings, multivariate statistical analysis, and systematic replications in relatively large groups of subjects and patients. Much of the work was devoted to the development of appropriate laboratory tasks and paradigms, recording techniques (especially non-invasive methods in cardiovascular psychophysiology), computer-assisted experimentation, and software for adequate parametrization of a large range of non-invasive recording techniques. In this context, a range of psychological assessment methods and questionnaires was developed, including standard personality questionnaires based on samples representative for the German population.

    Personality Questionaires:

    • Fragebogen zur Lebenszufriedenheit   FLZ
    • Freiburger Beschwerdenliste   FBL-R
    • Freiburger Persönlichkeitsinventar   FPI-R

    The empirical findings and methodology of this research were published in several books and many articles. This multivariate differential psychophysiology approach made clear that some of the global theoretical concepts which, at that time, appeared to be basic in this research domain were not tenable on empirical grounds. A general conclusion was, that in contrast to common expectations which are still hold in parts of the literature and present day textbooks, many of these studies revealed small or negligible relationships between psychological variables and physiological (autonomic, endocrine, biochemical, motor) functions. In particular, there was growing evidence that self-report data had a negligible validity in predicting objectively measured autonomic reactivity. Instead, a more sophisticated, however, methodically more demanding strategy and a multivariate theory of activation is appropriate - "Differential psychophysiology: Persons in situations".

    If, at the beginning, the search for convergent validity was a primary motive for this research on the psychophysiology of activation, the basic orientation has become different. Physiological recordings of autonomic changes provide a means to detect discrepancies (response fractionation and patterning) between regulatory systems in activation processes: subjective emotional states which are physiologically "quiet" and, on the other side, autonomic reactivity, for example, non-metabolic cardiovascular reactivity without conscious experience. This conclusion is in line with much published research about non-correlation of physical symptoms and subjective complaints.

    Initiating from a first laboratory-field comparison (generalizability study) concerning individual differences in activation processes, since 1980 the ambulatory monitoring in everyday life became increasingly important for the research.
    ECG and blood pressure monitoring (24-hour), the concurrent assessment of behavioral activities and subjective state using a hand-held PC, the interactive monitoring based on real-time analysis of heart rate changes caused by emotional activation and mental effort, and the automatic detection of posture, subtypes of moving behaviour and tremor activity by calibrated accelerometry presently are the major research orientations of the Psychophysiology Research Unit.