To gain a better understanding on the development of the authentic self we investigate topics and areas that we believe are essential in the research of authenticity. For this, we have identified five major research interests that we like to pursuit to expand existing research surrounding authenticity.

However, our research interests and pursuits do not claim to completely cover the complex research field around self-development and authenticity, but rather aim to provide a curious contribution in order to support individuals grow in a healthy and sustainable way.

Current research projects

When tough gets you going

Action orientation unfolds with difficult intentions and can be fostered by mental contrasting.

by Katja M. Friederichs, University of Trier

From pain to gain

How Helpful Support During Childhood Transforms Negative Experience.

by Kerstin Liesenfeld, Liesenfeld Research Institute/Tufts University

Research interests

Healthy Self-Leadership

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Self-leadership is the ability to drive one`s own thinking, feeling and action in that way that we not only draw near our goals but indeed succeed. This requires self—reflexion. A process in which one explores, analyzes and challenges their own thinking structures. Determining your own future course self-confidently in a tension field between individual resources and borders as well as powerfully move towards self-compatible goals can be a great challenge especially in an assembly of stress, pressure, heteronomy and conflicts.

How do we develop and drive our thinking, feeling and action in a healthy, competent, authentic and self-evident kind of way, to reach our goals like by itself?

Authentic Personality Development

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw

Authenticity creates self-efficacy, composure and an optimal access to our own resources. These include next to learned working techniques especially one`s own values, personal identity and visionary force.

In a fast growing, more and more globalized world we are in constantly challenged to develop. At the same time, we claim to maximize independency, stay true to ourselves and experience individuality. Questions like “Who am I? Am I all I could have been? What does really drive me? Do I live in accordance to my values and am I able to act accordingly to my own feelings? Or Am I free of social conventions?” concern us. But what exactly is our authentic self, and how can we discover, develop and live it?

Emotional Regulation over the life-span

“Creativity is Intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

Emotional regulation is critical component of emotional intelligence (EQ) and authenticity. Emotional regulation is defined as the ability to control and manage one’s own emotions and equally the ability to identify and understand the emotions of others. The distinctive importance of emotional regulation for an individual’s adaptive functioning, within its develop¬mental process, has been widely stressed in research outcomes and has a close relation to well-being and resiliency.

In our technological decade, where rapid change and increasing demands confront us with new challenges every day, we experience increased pressure, emotional threats and excessive stimulation that account for our culture feeling overwhelmed. There is an urgent need for social emotional tools to enhance our ability for emotional regulation. But despite our advances, there is a dearth of scientifically sound instruments that are implemented in developmental settings to improve and empower emotional regulation. We aim to develop and examine specific tools that support fostering emotional regulation in an organic way in accordance with your brain functioning over the entire life-span.

Biography Work

“Life can only be understood backwards – but it must be lived forward.”

Søren Kierkegaard

Critical biographical events such as repeatedly experienced relationship styles subconsciously produce specific patterns of perception and processing. To the extent that they cannot be tackled, dealt with and integrated in a targeted manner, they produce a quasi-magnetic form of recurring and haunting motivation. The research by Parker et al. (1998; 2000), also known as the ‘key-lock hypothesis’, shows that repeatedly experienced negative biographical events (‘lock’) lead to a heightened inclination towards depression when similar events re-occur in adulthood (‘key’).
And as long as perception and experience patterns are not treated and processed consciously, our brains tend to seek towards similar things again simply as a ‘preservation and protection function’.

In our research, we want to further explore the connection between critical biographical events and self-development. How does our past influence our current behavior patterns? How do family traumas pass on over generations and still influence our emotions and behavior today? How do we become aware of and comprehend subconscious processes that are impaired by our biography?


“Only when emotions work in terms of values can the individual feel pure joy.”

Viktor Frankl

Values are considered specific principals or standards of behaviors which are morally and ethically desirable for an individual. They create thinking patterns and belief system which guide us through life. Values are continuously formed through experiences with our environment and are influenced by the culture we live in. Embedded in our subconsciousness, values mostly only become conscious when we experience a divergence between experience and our own concept. Inner values give us orientation. If values are infringed, we experience negative feelings like frustration, anger and sadness.

In contrast, if values are experienced as fulfilled individuals report more feelings of authenticity and contentment. Actively examining our values helps us to become conscious about them, and give us a feeling of safety and determination. But what is the best practice to explore our values? Which values are really mine? And which are introjections? How stable are they over time? And how is the (in)stability of values connected with authenticity and the development of the authentic self? Questions worth exploring to get a greater picture of how values influence, navigate and help us in self-actualization.

Body and Mind

“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”

B.K.S. Iyengar

Body and Mind are strongly interrelated and influence each other. Thus, psychological strain can be reflected in physical problems as well as bio-chemical changes in our body can have extreme effects on the human mind. A synchronized interaction between body and mind is therefore essential for a healthy inner balance and resilience.

Understanding the deep connection between our physical and mental health may help us to find better, more sustainable solutions for prevention and treatment of physical and mental illness. Additionally, we see a necessity to integrate and research how different approaches and new findings in medicine, alternative medicine and psychology promote an authentic and healthy development for individuals and communities.
What is essential to keep or restore a healthy inner balance even when exposed to psychological stress? And how can we foster an integrative holistic approach in empowering both body and mind?

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