My current research at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin (supervised by Prof. Dr. Stefan Röpke) focuses on temporal precedents and consequences of affective states in patients with borderline personality disorder. We conducted three observational studies using electronic diaries to thouroughly assess stress and perceived rejection, stress and dissociation, as well as stress and self-esteem in daily life. Responses from patients with borderline personality disorder are compared with those from patients with depressive disorders and non-clinical controls. Data are analyzed using dynamic structural equation modeling.
In my doctoral dissertation at Freie Universität Berlin (supervised by Prof. Dr. Michael Eid) I examined requirements for lasting happiness in adults from non-clinical populations and how positive interventions can help to realize these requirements (and consequently increase happiness). For the purpose of my studies, I adopted the construct of subjective well-being as a definition of happiness. According to this definition, happier people experience more pleasant and fewer unpleasant emotions, and evaluate their lifes favourably. In several studies my supervisors and I have shown that brief self-guided interventions such as the best-possible-self intervention, a 20 minutes writing task available here, can induce positive emotions as well as functional cognitive states such as optimism, reduced goal ambivalence, and intrinsic goal pursuits. My dissertation project shows that the best-possible-self intervention and other interventions designed to increase happiness such as the gratitude letter intervention can help to foster positive experiences that may accumulate and feed into longer term well-being. Although the effects of the interventions are small and may last no longer than an hour, they are easily accessible, come at no or little cost, and should be repeatable in order to renew the effects.