Johan Paul Hion

Research groups in the Institute of Psychology

Here is a little overview of the research groups that operate in our institute.


Attention, Brain and Cognition Unit

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We are interested in cognitive processes and brain mechanisms behind human behaviour, emotions and decision making. Right now our research focuses on how MMN is related to trait and state variables, and whether the relationship is general or specific (funding form Estonian Research Information System team grant PRG1151).

The group is comprised of Kairi Kreegipuu, Nele Põldver, Liisi Ausmees, Pärtel Lippus, Jüri Allik, Aire Raidvee, Siqi Lyu, Annegrete Palu, Liina Juuse, Liis Kask, Annika Kask, Liis Themas, Mai-Liis Liiser and a number of students.


Autobiographical Memory and Knowledge Accumulation Research Group

We try to understand how autobiographical memories depend on the events experienced, the social or cultural context of the events, and individual differences. We also investigate how recollections of events and experiences support knowledge accumulation.

The group is comprised of Pirko TõuguTiia Tulviste, Anni Tamm.


Behavioural Genetics Research Group

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Typical tendencies in thinking, feeling, and behaving can be summarised by personality and cognitive traits and measured with tests. These behavioural traits associate with life outcomes, such as health and well-being. However, causal directions of these associations are largely unknown, as randomised controlled trials are resource-intensive and often ethically impossible. We propose using a genomic causal inference method – Mendelian randomisation. This method capitalises on natural randomisation of genetic variants – genetic lottery – that cause differences in behavioural traits. To find these variants, we are collecting detailed behavioural data from 220,000 genotyped participants of the Estonian Biobank. The result will be an atlas of plausibly causal associations between behaviour and life outcomes. The compiled dataset will also be a valuable public resource for any researcher interested in the intersection of behaviour, genetics, and health research for many years to come.

The group is comprised of Uku VainikKadri ArumäeKarolina AnjaKerli Ilves, Kari Kuulman.


Career Psychology Research Group

Good career choices are associated with a higher likelihood of finding a job, earning a competitive salary and enjoying your work. However, making good career choices depends on a wide range of factors, including self-awareness, analysis of opportunities, clarity of values, sufficient experience and decision-making skills. The aim of the research group is to clarify the issues involved in making good career decisions and to create and apply the tools needed for career counsellors.

The group is comprised of Triin Liin and Signe Reppo.


Child Development Research Group

The project will assess how COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions have affected children’s engagement with digital devices vs. parent-child face-to-face interactions in order to establish an understanding of current and long-term consequences on the acquisition and maintenance of Estonian language and literacy, and wellbeing. We will also take into account other factors such as the gender of the child, parental education and emotional state likely to influence child development.

The group is comprised of Tiia Tulviste, Anni Tamm, Jaan Tulviste, Kariina Laas, Veronika Kalmus (Institute of Social Studies), Marit Napp (Institute of Social Studies), Ada Urm, Jane Kuperjanov, Anne-Liis Olt and Mirle Iro.


Education Psychology and Information Technology Use Research (EPITUR) Group

The researchers of this group have a strong and long-term expertise in studying education and information technology related topics. We have undertaken projects about; the causes of the differences in the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in the Estonian and Russian language based schools; factors influencing the academic performance; smart technologies and digital literacy in promoting a change of learning, and PISA in Estonia (OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment). The members of the group are expert researchers on digital literacy research and related competences promoted in learning by European Commission and Council’s Key Competences for Lifelong Learning Framework. We have also benefitted from the experience gathered from contributing to two recent cross European Horizon2020 projects related to education and information technology use. First, colleagues from Tampere University led online Methods Toolkit development in "CORE - Children Online: Research and Evidence. A knowledge base on children and youth in the digital world". In the project "Scaling Up Educational Innovations in Schools" digital educational tools assessment and cooperation with digital industry was done. The group is also practicing what it researches through projects such as “Advancing digital competences and building courseware for digital solutions in psychology”.

The group is comprised of Iiris TuviKarin TähtKariina Laas.


Law Psychology Research Group

We carry out experimental research on how mechanisms of consciousness participate in veridical and nonveridical cognitive processing.

The group is comprised of Talis Bachmann, Tuule Grolig, Annegrete Palu, Iiris Tuvi.


Mental Health and Environment Research Group

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We are studying the relationships between natural and urban environments and human mental health and well-being. In examining these relationships, we use environmental and registry data, as well as self-reported assessments of individuals' well-being or mental meath and experimentally collected data on information processing and performance. We collaborate with human geographers at the University of Tartu and participate in the H2020 project eMOTIONAL Cities.

The group is comprised of Kairi KreegipuuKatarina KliitKadri Leetmaa (Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences), Anto Aasa (Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences).


Personality and Wellness Lab

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We investigate the relationships between personality traits and physical and mental well-being at both the genetic and phenotypic levels. We also explore the environmental and genetic causes of personality traits and well-being and their development patterns and associations with various other factors such as career and occupational choices. Additionally, we study issues related to the assessment of personality traits and mental health. Much of our research is based on the Estonian Biobank personality study, which boasts a uniquely extensive and detailed dataset. We have a strong background in quantitative analyses, which we use for creating maximally accurate predictive models based on complex data, among other things.

The group is comprised of René Mõttus, Jüri Allik, Anu Realo, Uku Vainik, Kenn Konstabel, Liisi Ausmees, Annika Tamme, Merili Tamson, Toivo Aavik, Kadri Arumäe, Katarina Kliit, Kätlin Anni, Karin Täht.


Psychology of Language Research Group

Language provides a window to human nature. Combining the fields of linguistics and psychology, we study how people process information at different language levels. Specifically, we are interested in how native language background affects the brain’s perception and learning of a foreign language (project PSG902 funded by the Estonian Research Council), how different social and psychological factors affect the interpretation of implicit expressions during social communication, and how people understand the meaning of complex sentences in real-time.

Prospective doctoral and master’s students are welcome to join the team! If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Siqi Lyu (

The group is comprised of Siqi LyuLuming WangPärtel LippusNele PõldverKairi Kreegipuu.


Psychopathology Research Group

The treatment of mental health problems is related to how psychopathology is diagnosed and interpreted. We examine the dimensional approaches that have emerged alongside categorical models in order to identify which population-varying features converge into pathological profiles and what characterizes these profiles. We further aim to develop more precise and efficient assessment and treatment interventions. We are interested in how biological, psychological and environmental factors moderate the development of psychopathology. Among other topics, we focus on the relationship between personality traits and emotional regulation difficulties with eating – and feeding disorder symptoms, and the developmental trajectories of these symptoms by combining both experimental and longitudinal designs.

The group is comprised of Kirsti Akkermann, Kätlin Anni, Kärol Soidla, Helo Liis Soodla, Kadi Reintam.


Tartu Affect and Regulation Unit

Tartu Affect and Regulation Unit (TARU) investigates how emotions and other motives arise, how they can be regulated, and how to build effective interventions to support self-regulation and other helpful behaviors. 

Specifically, we’re interested in how emotions and other motives arise from predictive cognitions 1,2 and how these affective states shape cognition in turn 3,4,5

TARU is also home to the reAppraisal framework explaining our ability to change emotions by changing how we think 7. This work spearheads our broader efforts in understanding how people regulate their emotions, stress and motivation 6,8.

Finally, we design and study interventions promoting self-regulation 9 as well as other helpful behaviors 10,11

We work with conceptual and computational models, behavioral and psychophysiological experiments, as well as surveys in regular and experience sampling designs. 

The group is comprised of Andero Uusberg, Helen Uusberg, Martin KolnesRichard Naar, Alan Voodla, Heidi Reinson, Sille-Liis Männik, Maria Krajuškina, Kaijo Rüütsalu, Eike Siilbek and a number of project managers and students.