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Realistic Depictions

With digital media, content can be visualized with an unprecedented degree of realism. A current example are interactive virtual environments that are viewed using virtual reality glasses. Characteristics of such forms of presenting learning content are that on the one hand they have a high degree of similarity to real situations and events, but on the other hand they differ systematically from reality, for example by showing scenes from unusual spatial perspectives or stretching event sequences by means of slow motion. The consequences of these similarities and differences between representation and reality for cognitive processing, for the acquisition of knowledge and for the understanding of facts are at the centre of the research of the working group. Research questions in this regard include, for example: Are learners aware of the differences between representation and reality? Does understanding realistic representations require special media skills and if so, how can these be taught? Under what conditions is a high degree of realism conducive to knowledge acquisition and under what conditions are systematic deviations more appropriate for learning? Realistic representations are not only increasingly being incorporated into formal teaching, but are also widely used in informal learning settings due to their vividness and their often entertaining appearance. Accordingly, empirical studies of the working group not only take place in the laboratory but also in the field of museums and exhibitions.


Team Realistic Depictions


Causality Heuristics in Resolving Ambiguous Situations

Be it in digital or real-world situations – people often face ambiguous situations that they strive to make sense of. When trying to interpret such ambiguous situations, they may experience a sense of “cognitive conflict” (i.e., an insecurity on what the situation means and how events may or may not be causally connected to one another). How do people deal with such ambiguity? And how does the observer’s situation, such as stress or perceived control, influence his or her attempts to overcome ambiguity?

Cognition in immersive digital environments

The project examines cognitive aspects of knowledge presentation in immersive digital environments. On the one hand basic issues of perception in rooms are considered. On the other hand the project is interested in influences of the spatial layout of information in rooms on perceiving, processing and remembering information. The research questions concerning cognitive processes in immersive digital environments are for example important for museums.

Conveying conflicting scientific topics in exhibitions: Development and optimization of an exhibition prototype and a museum-related wiki

The aim of this knowledge transfer project is to draw on empirical evidence to design and implement a prototypical exhibition space in the Deutsches Museum, where museum visitors can encounter conflicting information on a current science topic. In addition, an evidence-based, practice-oriented wiki on the subject of presenting conflicting information in museums and exhibitions will be developed.

Learning with 3D reconstructions

The project 'Learning with 3D reconstructions' examines the influence of visual and auditive types of presentations on cognitive processing of archaeological 3D reconstructions and concentrates, among other things, on the depiction of uncertain information.

Linking perceptual animacy to visual attention

Human observers tend to perceive simple geometric shapes that move spatio-temporarilly coordinated as if they were alive (Heider & Simmel, 1944, The American Journal of Psychology, 57, 243-259). This phenomenon is called perceptual animacy. Although perceptual animacy has been studied for over 60 years, it has not yet been linked to other psychological concepts such as attention. This research gap arises from difficulties in quantifying animate impressions.

The influence of audio-texts on historical thinking with pictorial representations of historical events

Viewers tend to perceive pictorial representations of historical events, such as those found in museums of history or art history, as a reliable source of information. Thereby viewers often neglect that the pictures are a constructed reality that requires a deeper, de- and reconstructive examination. In this PhD project, the influence of image-accompanying audio texts on this deeper examination of the pictorial representations is investigated.

The influence of haptic exploration of objects on knowledge acquisition and interest

While current theories on learning in multimedia learning environments concentrate on visual and auditory access, this dissertation project focuses on a different sensory approach to learning content: The haptics and haptic exploration of physical objects. Thus, the extent to which this haptic experience - in combination with visual impressions - influences learning and the learning experience in informal learning environments, such as museums and exhibitions, is investigated.

The visitors’ view on Obersalzberg: cognitive psychological analyses of the perception of an authentic location and its propagandistic staging during the time of National Socialism

The project „Visitors’ view on Obersalzberg“ focuses on two research questions: How can propaganda pictures get deconstructed? And how does the awareness of being in a historic place related to Nazi-history influence the perception, the processing and the judgements about associated pictures (PhD project)? Cooperation partner is the Institute for Contemporary History (Documentation Obersalzberg). Empiric findings are meant to flow into the realm of practice, the museum.

Former Projects

graduation papers