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Topolinski Group | Research

The Topolinski group bridges several fields of psychology in investigating the underlying mechanisms of spontaneous judgments, drawing both on social psychological and cognitive theorizing and method. We investigate the impact of processing efficiency (fluency) and affective states on intuitive judgments, stereotyping, semantic priming, creativity, and humor. Furthermore, we investigate sensorimotor influences on preference, social impression formation, implicit and explicit memory, as well as consumer choices, branding, and aesthetics.

Digital Trust

NRW Grant / Nachwuchsforschungsgruppen.NRW 2015 - 2021

In our fast-paced information society we need to evaluate safety and trustworthiness intuitively on a regular basis. In the NRW-Nachwuchsforschungsgruppe Digital Trust led by the social psychologist Sascha Topolinski, psychologists and behavioral economists jointly address the mechanisms behind intuitive trust building with regard to online interactions and transactions as well as with regard to professionals whose daily business requires intuitive evaluations of trustworthiness (e.g., judges).

Having in mind the crucial societal challenges identified by the German Federal Government in 2014 – Digital economy, digital knowledge, online public services, media competence and digital safety – our 6-year-program focuses on eCommerce and related digital transactions. While the online market is growing in an accelerating manner, the rate of cyber-crime is reaching a new high as well. Research in economics has already identified trust as one of the key variables that influence online transactions, with stronger effects on consumer behavior than the effect of pricing of a product. The internet provides a seemingly endless stream of (often interchangeable) information that exceeds the capacity of what we can process. Empirical research shows that this informational overload leads to more heuristic, intuitive decisions in online compared to non-digital interactions, and that especially trustworthiness is estimated in a very intuitive manner.

Therefore, our aim is first to identify and test psychological mechanisms from fundamental research that are known to influence intuitive feelings of trust, such as the fluency with which information is processed, the speed with which information is provided in digital environments, and individuals’ mood states. In a second stage of the project, we intend to identify potential moderators of intuition and trust and derive measures to train intuition and thereby improve intuitive decisions. To achieve these goals, we will work closely together with distinguished social, forensic, and media psychologists.

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