Onderzoek / Research

EXTO is een vakgroep die het meest actief is op het vlak van onderzoek in de faculteit. Het onderzoek binnen EXTO is gericht op twee lange-termijn topics:

EXTO is one of the most active research groups of the faculty. The focal long-term research topics pursued in EXTO are:

Neurobiological and behavioral study of cognition, affect and sleep

The research focus of this team represents a comprehensive study of mental processes and their neural correlates in different domains of human functioning and behavior, such as implicit cognition, the basic mechanism of emotional information processing, (implicit) social judgment and sleep. Without doubt, the study of the brain and its related mental processes is at the forefront of current research in many disciplines of psychology. Together with behavioral (experimental – observational) approaches, neurobiological methodology, such as brain imaging techniques (e.g., electroencephalograph, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging) and lesions studies, allow unprecedented insights in human mental processes.


One of the main strengths of our team is the fact that it incorporates three different subfields of psychology (biological psychology, social and affective neuroscience and cognitive psychology). This results in a dynamic and unique group of young and senior researchers with multiple domains of expertise. In order to promote focus 1’s synergy and interplay between mental processes and neural substrates, the team focuses on (a) strengthening of the topics that have contributed to the strong reputation of each of the research domains within focus 1 and (b) new collaboration between research topics in line of focus 1 in terms of future research proposals and projects. Thus, in order to enhance the quality and validity in this focus, attention will be given to bridge gaps between the different subfields in order to join complementary insights and methods in the approach of a subject.

Social exchange relationships at work (SER@work)

The research focus of this team concerns the impact of (social) exchange relationships between employees and organizations on important job outcomes such as job satisfaction, turnover, performance, work effort, quality of (working) life, feelings of justice, etc. This topic is rather unique in Belgian academia, but ties up with state-of-the-art international research in work and organizational psychology. A number of topics that directly emerge from social exchange theory are studied: reward management (concerning why and how an organization rewards the employee in exchange for his/her efforts and what its effects are), psychological contract (representing the mutual beliefs, perceptions, and informal obligations between an organization and its employees and their consequences), antecedents and consequences of psychological needs satisfaction in organizational environments (that is, the need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness), justice perceptions (of the exchanges taking place at different levels) and career opportunities (offered by organizations).

The research in our group is groundbreaking at the international level in that we emphasize three novel aspects of these topics: First, in contrast to mainstream research in work and organizational psychology that generally addresses psychological phenomena that are believed to hold for (all individuals in) the general population, we study inter-individual differences in these exchange relationships and their differential impact on job outcomes. Second, responding to a number of pleas in the international literature we study the dynamic nature of the link between exchange relationships and job outcomes. Finally, our team explicitly focuses on the behavior of specific, non-traditional work populations such as non-profit workers, shift workers, volunteers, managers, and high-potentials.

Research groups

The following research groups of EXTO collaborate in investigating these topics:

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