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Neurobiological and psychological Factors in Socialisation

Individuals can only live up to their full intellectual and social potential if they have access to optimal learning environments throughout the entire course of their development, which ranges from birth to death. The working group focused on developing evidence-based measures to provide effective early support to children – especially those with immigrant backgrounds or from socio-economically disadvantaged families – in developing their skills and potential. The goal of such early intervention is to facilitate integration and enable society to harness the full potential of all its members.

Public debate on the reasons for differences in intellectual and social development is generally waged along the lines of “nature vs. nurture”. In other words, our personalities, abilities and social traits are generally deemed to be either genetically determined or shaped by environmental factors. The research of the past 50 years provides convincing evidence that things are not quite so black and white: human development is actually shaped by the complex interplay of both genetic and environmental factors.

Beliefs on how cognitive, emotional and social skills develop are of direct significance for policy. Scientific findings have that supporting children at an early stage, when they are in nursery school and in the first years of school, is the most effective way of promoting aspects of development such as language skills and self-direction – and thus, ultimately, of promoting successful integration. But that is not enough. Supportive measures are particularly effective if they are offered during the right phase of development. Corrective measures taken later on are not completely ineffective, but they require a lot more effort and are more costly for society.


  • National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • Union of German Academies of Sciences
  • German Academy of Science and Engineering acatech

Spokespersons of the Working Group

  • Prof. Dr. Frank Rösler ML
    Universität Hamburg
  • Prof. Dr. Brigitte Röder ML
    Universität Hamburg

Members of the Working Group

  • Prof. Dr. Jürgen Baumert ML
    Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Blossfeld ML
    European University Institute Florenz (Italien)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Cremer ML
    Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Prof. Dr. Angela D. Friederici ML
    Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften Leipzig
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Hasselhorn
    Deutsches Institut für internationale pädagogische Forschung (DIPF), Frankfurt am Main
  • Prof. Dr. Gerd Kempermann
    Technische Universität Dresden und Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE), Dresden
  • Prof. Dr. Ulman Lindenberger ML
    Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Jürgen Meisel
    Universität Hamburg und University of Calgary (Kanada)
  • Prof. Dr. Markus M. Nöthen ML
    Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
  • Prof. Dr. Brigitte Röder ML
    Universität Hamburg
  • Prof. Dr. Frank Rösler ML
    Universität Hamburg
  • Prof. Dr. C. Katharina Spieß
    Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Frank Spinath
    Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken
  • Prof. Dr. Elsbeth Stern
    Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule ETH Zürich (Schweiz)
  • Prof. Dr. Gisela Trommsdorff
    Universität Konstanz

ML = member of the Leopoldina


Was Hänschen nicht lernt. Panel discussion on socialisation in early childhood, Hamburg, 3 December 2014 (recorded by DRadio Wissen, broadcast on 11 January 2015; German)




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Dr. Henning Steinicke

Scientific officer, Deputy Head of Department Science – Policy – Society

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 864
E-Mail henning.steinicke (at)leopoldina.org