Research & Publications

At the Personality and Geographical Ambiance (PANGEA) Lab, we are passionate and curious about all things personality and geography. Below is a summary of some of the areas and projects we are currently working on.

Regional Personality Differences

Our primary research interests lie at the nexus of people and places and most of our work aims to investigate the causes and consequences of spatial differences in psychological characteristics (e.g., personality traits and values). Applying classic interactionist theories from social and personality psychology to real-world settings, we adopt pursue two integrated streams of research: On the micro-level, we study how distinct regional psychological profiles emerge and shape individual cognitions, behaviours and emotions (e.g., personal spending and well-being).

On the macro-level, we research how regional psychological profiles shape an area’s social, political and economic climate and affect relevant macro-level outcomes (e.g., suicide prevalence, election results and start-up rates).

Select PANGEA Publications:

  • Ebert, T., Götz, F. M., Gladstone, J. J., Müller, S. R., & Matz, S. C. (2021). Spending reflects not only who we are but also who we are around: The joint effects of individual and geographic personality on consumption. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121(2), 378–393.
  • Ebert, T., Götz, F. M., Mewes, L., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2022). Spatial analysis for psychologists: How to use individual-level data for research at the geographically aggregated level. Psychological Methods.
  • Ebert, T., Mewes, L., Götz, F. M., & Brenner, T. (2022). Effective maps, easily done: Visualizing geo-psychological differences using distance weights. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 5(3), 251524592211018.
  • Götz, F. M., Ebert, T., Gosling, S. D., Obschonka, M., Potter, J., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2021). Local housing market dynamics predict rapid shifts in cultural openness: A 9-year study across 199 cities. American Psychologist, 76(6), 947–961.
  • Götz, F. M.., Stieger, S., Gosling, S. D., Potter, J., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2020). Physical topography is associated with human personality. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(11), 1135–1144.

Personality and the Pandemic

Whoever we are, whatever we do and wherever we live, since its global outbreak Covid-19 has fundamentally altered our lives. In this research stream, we try to understand how the personality of individuals and regions influence how people experience and deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Select PANGEA Publications:

  • Andrews Fearon, P., Götz, F. M., & Good, D. (2020). Pivotal moment for trust in science – don’t waste it. Nature, 580(7804), 456.
  • Götz, F. M., Gvirtz, A., Galinsky, A. D., & Jachimowicz, J. M. (2021). How personality and policy predict pandemic behavior: Understanding sheltering-in-place in 55 countries at the onset of COVID-19. American Psychologist, 76(1), 39–49.
  • Peters, H., Götz, F. M.,  Ebert, T., Müller, S. R., Rentfrow, P. J, Gosling, S. D., Obschonka, M., Ames, D. , Potter, J. & Matz, S. C. (in press). Regional personality differences predict variation in early COVID-19 infections and mobility patterns indicative of social distancing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • Li, T., de Girolamo, G., Zamparini, M., Malvezzi, M., Candini, V., Calamandrei, G., Starace, F., Zarbo, C., & Götz, F. M. Openness buffers the impact of belief in conspiracy theories on Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy: Evidence from a large, representative Italian sample. Personality and Individual Differences.


Experience-Sampling-Methods and Longitudinal Studies

In this line of work, we use longitudinal surveys and science apps to track and analyse people’s experiences over time as they live through important events or formative times. The windows we look at range from hours – such as how fans’ emotions fluctuate as they watch their national soccer team compete at the World Cup – to years – such as how homesickness emerges and develops in exchange students abroad – and they almost always teach us something new and interesting.

Select PANGEA Publications:

  • Götz, F. M., Stieger, S., Ebert, T., Rentfrow, P. J., & Lewetz, D. (2020). What drives our emotions when we watch sporting events? An ESM study on the affective experience of German spectators during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Collabra: Psychology, 6(1).
  • Götz, F. M., Stieger, S., & Reips, U. D. (2018). The emergence and volatility of homesickness in exchange students abroad: A smartphone-based longitudinal study. Environment and Behavior, 51(6), 689–716.
  • Stieger, S., Götz, F. M., & Gehrig, F. (2015). Soccer results affect subjective well-being, but only briefly: A smartphone study during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.


Personality Development across the Life-Span

A fourth interest of our revolves around age-graded personality differences and individual psychological development across the lifespan. Here, we harness large-scale datasets to shed light on how previously understudied personality characteristics – including malevolent traits, such as Machiavellianism – changes over the course of our lives. In another, ongoing project, we use machine learning techniques to zoom in on personal value and investigate which aspects of our value systems are most malleable to change and how change varies from very broad to very specific personal values.

Select PANGEA Publications:

  • Götz, F. M., Bleidorn, W., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2020). Age differences in Machiavellianism across the life span: Evidence from a large‐scale cross‐sectional study. Journal of Personality, 88(5), 978–992.


This is only a sample of the research we do in our lab. For a full list of publications visit Dr Götz’ Google Scholar profile.