Grit Hein

Born in: Germany
Primary research category: Psychology/Neuroscience
Research location / employer: Translational Neuroscience Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic and Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg, Germany
Fellowship dates: 2008-2013

Academic Career

  • Full Professor of Translational Social Neuroscience, 2017-present
  • Heisenberg Fellow, Institute of Medical Psychology, Goethe-University, Frankfurt/M.
  • Lecturer, Department of Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Visiting Scientist, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Research Associate, MRC Cambridge, UK


  • PhD, Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin and Max-Planck-Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences
  • MSc, Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin

Fellowship Research

Dr. Grit Hein investigates the motivational sources of behavior. Of particular interest are motives that social behaviors, for example empathy, reciprocity, collectivism and egoism. Current studies examine how these motives interact, how they are shaped by learning, and how they are altered across the life span and in psychopathological conditions. To tackle these questions, a range of methods are used, including brain imaging, computational modeling, and behavioral experiments based on paradigms from social and experimental psychology, and behavioral economics.

Major Contributions

Dr. Grit Hein and her colleagues have shown that different social motives can be uncovered based on patterns of brain connectivity, even if they lead to the identical behavior. In the future these approaches are extended to more complex motivational scenarios with higher ecological validity in which several motives are activated at the same time. The aim is to specify the motive or combinations of motives that are most likely to enhance or inhibit relevant social behaviors

Major Awards

  • Heisenberg Fellowship
  • Emmy-Noether-Fellowship