The Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics & Business Introduces Itself

Health psychologist Prof. Gudrun Sproesser teaches and conducts research on the science of health and behavior at the JKU.

Gudrun Sproesser
Gudrun Sproesser

We spoke with the new JKU professor about how and why technology and climate change affect our health and what she is hoping for during the coming years.

What is your area of research?
Gudrun Sproesser: My research focuses on the psychological impact in regard to the science of health behavior and understanding the health and well-being of humans. One focal point is conducting comparative research across cultures and different countries.

What is the field of Health Psychology about?
Gudrun Sproesser: In short, health psychology focuses on the many personal, social and structural factors that impact and affect our health.

Why did you choose to come to the JKU?
Gudrun Sproesser: I found the JKU’s research profile very interesting, on a whole as well as at the Institute of Education and Psychology in particular.

What do you find particularly fascinating about this area?
Gudrun Sproeser: I find it extremely fascinating to learn more about people's perceptions and behaviors when it comes to health.

Why is this research even necessary, meaning how will it improve our lives?
Gudrun Sproesser: My research addresses the great many challenges we face today, including a rise in the cases of chronic, non-communicable diseases, and climate change, as well as ongoing challenges brought about by globalization and increasing technology. In this respect, human behavior is not only a pivotal risk factor in the emergence of chronic, non-communicable diseases, but also a primary driver when it comes to climate change. My research focuses on increasing health-promoting behavior to prevent the development of chronic, non-communicable diseases. I am also exploring how sustainable behavior can be encouraged in an effort to counteract climate change. Furthermore, my research addresses both the practical and theoretical challenges that globalization and increasing technology bring about. I am, for example, exploring the psychological factors surrounding changes in the dietary and nutrition landscape brought about by globalization and increasing technology.

Why should students take your classes?
Gudrun Sproesser: To quote some of the feedback I received from former students: "We enjoyed your seminar very much and as a course instructor as well as on a personal level, you are very accomplished and approachable." "I was very happy with the support you provided. You gave us your time and took so much effort. Really super! The combination of course requirements and the freedom to work was ideal, including the parameters to turn the work in during the given time frame."

What are you currently working on?
Gudrun Sproesser: At the moment, for example, I am studying the psychological factors surrounding changes in the dietary and nutrition environment brought about by globalization and increasing technology. It is interesting to note that modernizing the dietary and nutrition environment has not uniformly resulted in more modern eating habits, but rather country-specific traditions seem to persist. Against this backdrop, I am currently exploring the psychological factors and implications of ‘traditional vs. modern’ eating habits..

As part of another study, I am taking a look at cafeterias and how to support changes in environmental factors when it comes to a more healthy and sustainable consumption of food. To do this, we are conducting an initial pilot study about food perception in terms of sustainability at the university cafeteria.

What are your hobbies?
Gudrun Sproeser: I have two kindergarten-age children so that means that when I'm not working, you can find me at the playground.

What else do you want to do or achieve in your life?
Gudrun Sproesser: I recently created a good work-life balance. If I can keep this up, I have accomplished a lot.


About Gudrum Sproesser

Gudrun Sproesser (39) earned her doctorate degree in psychology at the University of Konstanz (Germany) in 2012. She conducted research at the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania (USA) between 2014 and 2016 and has been a professor of health psychology at the JKU since 2022. She is the recipient of several awards in recognition of her outstanding work, including the Early Career Award by the European Health Psychology Society and the Förderpreis für Neurologische Rehabilitation. In addition, she is a board member of the Health Psychology Section of the German Psychological Society.