Institute for Health and Behaviour

Health-care professionals, patients, families, community leaders, and policy makers all struggle to understand the interactions between health and behaviour, and to use that knowledge to improve the health status of individuals and populations. Health and behaviour are related in myriad ways, yet those interactions are neither simple nor straightforward.

Given the wide acknowledgment that cigarette smoking is linked to a variety of deadly diseases, for example, why do people start smoking or continue to do so? And given equally convincing evidence connecting excess weight with cardiovascular disease and other health problems, why are so many people far above their optimal weight? Does such unhealthy behaviour indicate a simple lack of willpower? What is the role of learning in childhood and how does the social environment influence these behaviours over the lifespan? Does stress make people sick, or does illness produce stress?

Researchers in the Institute for Health and Behaviour investigate links between health and behaviour, the influence of the social environment on these behaviours, and interventions to improve health through modifying behaviour or personal relationships.

 Questions investigated cover a range of topics

  • What do the biological, behavioural, and social sciences contribute to our understanding of health?
  • How does behaviour affect physiological changes, including the cardiovascular, hormonal and immune system, and brain functioning?
  • What are the psychological causes and consequences of violence (e.g. bullying), and aggression at the workplace (e.g. harassment)?
  • How do we regulate emotions and what are the associated effects for health?
  • What are the roles of social networks, the media and socioeconomic status for health?
  • What can we learn from applied research on interventions to improve the health of individuals, families, communities, organizations, and larger populations?
  • How can we expeditiously translate research findings into applications?

Research groups

Stress, Pain and Pain Modulation
(Prof. Dr. Fernand Anton)


























Health Promotion and Aggression Prevention 
(Prof. Dr. Georges Steffgen)


























Self-Regulation and Health 
(Prof. Dr. Claus Vögele)


























Health Inequalities
(Prof. Dr. Michèle Baumann)