Successful PhD defense by David Stolz!

Huge congratulations to David Stolz for successfully defending his PhD! 

Back in October 2015 David started his PhD in the Social Neuroscience Lab based on a joke about his last name (Stolz = pride). Before 2015, several of our research projects centered around the neural processes underlying the unpleasant emotion of embarrassment (see e.g. “Neural pathways of embarrassment and their modulation by social anxiety” Müller-Pinzler et al., 2015). With David, and given his perfectly suited last name, we figured that we could now start focusing on another, and more pleasant, emotion: pride. Other than embarrassment that commonly arises after realizing an own failure (and which is also observed by surrounding others), pride is supposed to develop after successfully accomplishing a task (relatively independent from being observed by others – one may be proud about own successes in privacy). David started digging into this field of research and quickly realized that the topic of pride touched many other interesting questions. For example: What is the value of controllability? Or: How can we measure subjectively perceived control? What is the difference between winning in a lottery and winning in a game of dart? And how can happiness and pride be distinguished?

In his PhD David successfully developed a novel and MRI compatible task to quantify the impact and value of subjectively perceived control for task outcomes and was able to relate these parameters to the experience of the emotion of pride during feedback processing. A major part of his PhD thesis has been published in this manuscript: 

Internal control beliefs shape positive affect and associated neural dynamics during outcome valuation. Stolz DS, Müller-Pinzler L, Krach S, Paulus FM. Nat Commun. 2020 Mar 6;11(1):1230. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14800-4.

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