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Elitenetzwerk Bayern

New Junior Research Group at LMU

München, 01/07/2015

The Elitenetzwerk Bayern has agreed to fund a third Junior Research Group at LMU, which will study infants’ and children’s developing understanding of social norms and morality.

The Elitenetzwerk Bayern (ENB) will provide the necessary funding for the new Junior Research Group on Developmental Origins of Human Normativity, Epistemology and Prosociality (DOHNEP), which will be headed by developmental psychologist Dr. Marco Schmidt. The new group will be affiliated with LMU’s International Doctoral Program REASON, which focuses on the bases of scientific reasoning and argumentation.

DOHNEP’s objectives are to explore how children pick up an understanding of norms and rules as they grow up, and to identify the main factors that affect the course of the process. “Our approach rests on the premise that norms and their origins cannot be understood as isolated phenomena. Instead, they are closely interwoven with the readiness to cooperate with others, with a developing interest in the welfare of others and with the preconditions necessary for the acquisition of cultural knowledge,” says Marco Schmidt. “In this sense, we are investigating the psychological bases of human social life and morals.”

Seen in this context, the new group’s field of interest is closely allied thematically with the issues at the core of the International Doctoral Program REASON. Graduates enrolled in this program investigate aspects of the development and practice of scientific modes of thinking and argumentation. “There are interesting links between the development of moral concepts and the development of scientific thinking, in the area of epistemic norms, for instance,” says Professor Frank Fischer, Spokesperson for REASON, which is based at the Munich Center for the Learning Sciences.

As part of the first REASON Spring School in March 2015, Schmidt will hold/give a workshop entitled “Understanding Normativity and its Relevance for Epistemology”, which will also deal with the connections between scientific thinking and the concept of norms. Marco Schmidt comes to LMU from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, having obtained a doctorate in Psychology at Leipzig University.

The ENB now funds six research groups in all, and DOHNEP becomes the third to be hosted by LMU. The group devoted to “Interactions Between Light and Matter” began its work at the Mathematics Institute in September 2104 under the leadership of Dr. Dirk-André Deckert, while the group headed by Dr. Philippe Cordez at the Institute of Art History, which studies “Premodern Objects” as the basis of “An Archaeology of Experience”, was set up in September 2013.