Dr. Svenja A. Wolf
"EVERYTHING IS AWESOME WHEN YOU'RE PART OF A TEAM!(?)"
At the most basic level, I love anything that has to do with teams, emotions, and work to apply my research expertise on these topics in my supervision, teaching, and application. I strongly believe in quality over quantity along the lines of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and collaboration across institutional, disciplinary, and national boundaries. As such, a key vehicle for my work is my research team, the Laboratory for Emotions in Groups and Organizations (LEGO).
GROUP DYNAMICS X EMOTIONS: MY RESEARCH FOCI
More specifically, my current research centers on the intersection of group dynamics and emotions in sport and other performance contexts such as performing arts and high-pressure work-settings. Across all of my research, I aim to work from strong theoretical frameworks, employ a variety of designs (e.g., multilevel field studies; field, lab, and online experiments; case studies) and methods (e.g., questionnaires, observations, interviews, performance data analyses), implement sound scientific procedures in the form of research transparency and open science, and ensure high ecological validity and relevance.
Collective Emotions: In my first line of research, I focus on the phenomenon of collective emotions. Here, I work to provide evidence for the existence of collective emotions in performance contexts (e.g., statistical agreement of member responses, convergent non-verbal behaviors), their task-related and social consequences (e.g., teamwork, social integration), relevant boundary factors (e.g., discrete emotions, timely dynamics, emotion norms), and the underlying mechanisms that cause emotional congruence and convergence (e.g., emotional leadership, emotional mimicry, team identification).
Concerning the latter, a particular focus lies on emotional conformity, that is, the idea that team-members attend to and match their teammates' emotions (or at least their expressions) out of strategic, underlying motives to gain an accurate understanding of reality or to form and maintain social relationships, and that these motives determine, for example, through which mechanisms emotional convergence operates and which situational properties trigger it. This idea is in line with my general position that collective emotions (and emotions in general) are utmost functional phenomena and instead of avoiding and suppressing them, we can harness them to benefit (team) performance, commitment, and wellbeing.
Social Indispensability: In my secondary research line, I combine literatures on social motivation and performance under pressure and investigate the possible ambivalent influences of social indispensability. Specifically, I hypothesize that social indispensability induces pressure (e.g., not to let the team down), which is an asset if it enhances volition, effort, and ultimately performance on effort-based (conditioning) tasks such as running, but which is a detriment if it enhances self-focus, conscious control, and ultimately reduces performance on skill-based (coordination) tasks such as target shooting.
To get some further insight into my (collaborative) work, the following might be some helpful references (you can find a full record under https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5522-7972):
Wolf, S. A., Heerdink, M. W., & van Kleef, G. A. (2023). A motivational account of convergence in emotion expressions within groups: The Emotional Conformity Framework. Emotion Review. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/175407392311822
Tamminen, K. A., Wolf, S. A., Dunn, R., & Bissett, J. E. (2022). A review of the interpersonal experience, expression, and regulation of emotions in sport. International Review of Sport & Exercise Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2022.2132526
Wolf, S. A., Eys, M. A., Sadler, P., & Kleinert, J. (2015). Appraisal in a team context: Perceptions of cohesion predict competition importance and prospects for coping. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 37, 489–499. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.2014-0276
SUSTAINABLE + AUTONOMOUS PERFORMANCE: MY APPROACH TO SUPERVISION, TEACHING, AND APPLICATION
In my supervision, teaching, and application, I try to implement my research knowledge actively and use group dynamics and emotion principles to ensure student motivation and success and effective knowledge transfer and intervention.
In line with the principles of transformational leadership, I aim to be a role model to the master's and PhD students I supervise (also with regard to the necessity and boundaries of a sound work-life balance). I expect my students to pursue innovative and impactful research projects and commit to mentoring and supporting them in ways that are necessary to achieve this. Also, I hope to inspire my students to develop an intrinsic interest in their work, make this a priority, and aspire to make a difference in the field. Whereas it is a precondition for our collaboration that their interests fit with my general lines of research, I strive to balance direction and guidance with intellectual freedom and executive independence.
With six students, I am currently at my supervisory capacity, but I will be accepting new PhD students again in 2025. Thus, if you are interest (also in my topical profile and supervisory style), I encourage you to contact me for further information.
In my course-based teaching, I strive to harness the benefits of teamwork, such as social motivation and backing up behaviors, and instigate a growth-oriented, non-perfectionistic climate. In line with my dedication to transformational leadership, I challenge my students intellectually and encourage them to strive for skills and knowledge, rather than grades and credentials. I strive to help students become evidence-based practitioners, possessing the ability to identify, source, and use high-quality research evidence and theory, and application-conscious researchers, being able to translate this knowledge to real-life audiences.
Within our Sport Psychology program, I teach the foundational courses "Sport Psychology" and "Applied Sport Psychology", the focal courses "Emotions and Emotion Regulation in Performance Settings" and "Case Studies in Organizational Sport and Performance Psychology”, and our Sport Psychology Research Colloquium.
I am a strong proponent of research and practice integration and believe that both are better if they communicate and work with the other. This will lead to more valid and relevant research and more reliable and replicable practice. Being certified with the German Association of Sport Psychology, I have consulted with xsports organizations, coaches and other leadership personnel, athletes across the age spectrum, as well as industry and community stakeholders. In line with my group dynamics background, I currently focus more on organizational consulting, the optimization of performance systems, and knowledge translation (e.g., as part of our LEGO Coach website).
THERE + BACK AGAIN: MY TRAINING AND BACKGROUND
I joined Florida State University and the Sport Psychology program in 2020 and moved to Tallahassee in the summer of 2021. Until then, I worked as a Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Munich in Germany, my home country, and enjoyed prime access to the local mountainside. This, I missed terribly during the previous five years having worked at the University of Amsterdam in the aptly named Netherlands. I spent two years as an Assistant Professor in the Work and Organizational Psychology program and three years as a Postdoc with the Social Psychology program. Before moving to Amsterdam, I spent a year as a Postdoc with the School of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Previously, I had completed my PhD in Sport Science with a specialization in Sport Psychology at the German Sport University Cologne and as a visiting scholar at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada.