Prof. Dr. Claudia Sassenrath

Claudia Sassenrath studied psychology at the University of Wuerzburg and at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She received her diploma in 2008 and finished her dissertation on contextual influences on perspective taking at the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (University of Tübingen) in January 2012. Claudia Sassenrath is a lecturer at the University of Ulm since March 2012. In April 2019, she received her Postdoctoral Lecturing Qualification (Habilitation).
Since 2023, she is also adjunct professor (Apl.-Prof.) at Ulm University.




Claudia Sassenrath

Claudia Sassenrath
☎ +49-(0)731/50 31163
Π 47.2.281

nach Vereinbarung

Research Interests

  • Empathy, Perspective taking, Prosocial tendencies
  • Self-regulatory processes
  • Social cognition
  • Embodied cognition

Funded projects

"Eine Analyse der Randbedingungen sowie psychophysiologischer Korrelate von Empathie und Hilfeverhalten: Die Rolle des kardiovaskulären Zustands des Helfers sowie der emotionalen Reaktion des Hilfebedürftigen beim Zusammenhang von Empathie und Hilfeverhalten"

(DFG-Sachmittelbeihilfe, SA 2971/3-1)


  •  Sassenrath, C., Keller, J., Stöckle, D., Kesberg, R., Nielsen, Y. A., & Pfattheicher, S. (2024). I like it because it hurts you: On the association of everyday sadism, sadistic pleasure, and victim blaming. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 126, 105–127.

  • *Fröhlich, E., *Sassenrath, C., Nadji-Ohl, M., Unteroberdörster, M., Rückriegel, S., Von der Brelie, C., Roder, C., Forster, M.-T.; Schommer, S., Löhr, M., Pala, A., Goebel, S., Mielke, D., Gerlach, R., Renovanz, M., Wirtz, C. R., Onken, J., Czabanka, M., Tatagiba, M. S.,...Coburger, J. (2022). Resilience in lower grade glioma patients. Cancers, 14, 5410.
    *shared first authorship

  • Diefenbacher, S., Plotzki, C., Schneider-Brachert W., Ambrosch A., Keller, J., Niesalla, H., Gaube, S., Gastmeier, P., Sassenrath C., & Kramer, T.S. (2022). Differences in observed and self-reported compliance with the 5 moments for hand hygiene as a function of healthcare workers’ empathy. Journal of Hospital Infection, 128, 39-46.

  • Sassenrath, C., Diefenbacher, S., Kolbe, V., Niesalla, H., & Keller, J. (2022). The impact of activating an empathic focus during COVID19 on healthcare workers motivation for hand hygiene compliance in moments serving the protection of others: A randomized controlled trial study. Journal of Public Health, 1-5.

  • Sassenrath, C., Vorauer, J., & Hodges, S.D. (2021). The link between perspective-taking and prosociality – not as universal as you might think. Current Opinion in Psychology, 44, 94-99.

  • Sassenrath, C., Diefenbacher, S., Pfattheicher, S., & Keller J. (2021). The potential and limitations of empathy in changing health-relevant affect, cognition and behaviour. European Review of Social Psychology, 1-34.

  • Sassenrath, C., Wagner, M., Saur, J., & Keller, J. (2021). Inducing empathy affects cardiovascular reactivity reflected in changes in high-frequency heart rate variability. Cognition & Emotion, 35, 393-399.

  • Pfattheicher, S., Nockur, L., Böhm, R., Sassenrath, C., & Peterson, M.B. (2020). The emotional path to action: Empathy promotes physical distancing and wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological Science, 31, 1363 –1373.

  • Sassenrath, C., Pfattheicher, S., & Hodges, S.D. (2020). Introduction to British Journal of Social Psychology special section on The bright and dark sides of empathy. British Journal of Social Psychology, 59, 714.

  • Lui, L. F., Sassenrath, C., & Pfattheicher, S. (2020). When is your pain my gain? The use of perspective taking by everyday sadists. Personality and Individual Differences, 167, Article 110213.

  • Diefenbacher, S., Sassenrath, C., Tatzel, J. & Keller, J. (2020). Evaluating healthcare workers’ hand hygiene performance using first-person view video observation in a standardized patient-care scenario. American Journal of Infection Control, 48, 496-502.
  • Sassenrath, C. (2019). “Let Me Show You How Nice I Am”: Impression Management as Bias in Empathic Responses. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11, 752–760.
  • Pfattheicher, S., Sassenrath, C., & Keller, J. (2019). Compassion magnifies third-party punishment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117, 124-141.
  • Sassenrath, C., Wagner, M., Keller, J., & Sassenberg, K. (2019). It's a challenge! Empathizing with sad but not with angry individuals results in cardiovascular reactivity consistent with a challenge motivational state. Emotion, 19, 982-991.
  • Sassenrath, C., Greving, H., & Sassenberg, K. (2018). Are you concerned? Patient testimonials in medical communicaiton affect healthy recipietns' emotions and memory. Frontiers in Communication, 3:18.
  • Sassenrath, C., Sassenberg, K., & Greving, H. (2017). It has to be first-hand: The effect of first-person testimonials in medical communication on recipients' emotions and memory. Cogent Medicine, 4(1).
  • Sassenrath, C., Pfattheicher, S., & Keller, J. (2017). I might ease your pain, but only if you’re sad: The moderating role of empathized emotion in the empathy-helping association. Motivation and Emotion, 41, 96-106.
  • Pfattheicher, S., Sassenrath, C., & Schindler, S. (2016). Feelings for the suffering of others and the environment: Compassion fosters proenvironmental tendencies. Environment and Behavior, 48, 929-945.
  • Sassenrath, C., Diefenbacher, S., Siegel, A., & Keller, J. (2016). A person-oriented approach to hand hygiene behavior: Emotional Empathy Fosters Hand Hygiene Practice. Psychology & Health, 31, 205-227.
  • Sassenrath, C., Hodges, S. D., & Pfattheicher, S. (2016). It's all about the self: When perspective taking backfires. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 405-410.
  • Sassenrath C., Sassenberg K., & Scheepers, D. (2016). The Impact of Regulatory Focus on Challenge and Threat. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 75, 91-95.
  • Sassenberg, K., Sassenrath, C., & Fetterman, A. (2015). Threat ≠ prevention, challenge ≠ promotion: The impact of threat, challenge, and regulatory focus on attention to negative stimuli. Cognition and Emotion, 29, 188-195.
  • Scholl, A., Sassenrath, C., & Sassenberg (2015). Attracted to power: Challenge / threat and promotion / prevention focus differentially predict the attractiveness of group power. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1-9.
  • Olderbak, S., Sassenrath, C., Keller, J., & Wilhelm, O. (2014). An emotion-differentiated perspective on empathy with the emotion specific empathy questionnaire. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 653.
  • Pfattheicher, S., & Sassenrath, C. (2014). A Regulatory Focus Perspective on Eating Behavior: How Prevention and Promotion Focus relates to Emotional, External, and Restrained Eating. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 1314.
  • Sassenrath C, Sassenberg K, Ray DG, Scheiter K, Jarodzka H (2014) A Motivational Determinant of Facial Emotion Recognition: Regulatory Focus Affects Recognition of Emotions in Faces. PLoS ONE 9(11): e112383. 3
  • Sassenrath, C., Sassenberg, K., & Scholl, A. (2014). From a distance…: The impact of approach and avoidance motivational orientation on perspective taking. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 18-26. 
  • Sassenrath, C., Sassenberg, K., & Semin, G. R. (2013). Cool, but understanding… Experiencing cooler temperatures promotes perspective taking performance. Acta Psychologica, 143, 245-251. 
  • Diefenbacher, S., Sassenrath, C., Siegel, A., Grünewald, M., & Keller, J. (2012). Implizite Einstellung zur Händehygiene als relevanter Prädiktor von Händehygieneverhalten. Hygiene & Medizin, 37, 448-455.