Affective Sciences: an emerging discipline

It has often been seen that our behavior is the result of taking purely rational decisions. However, in recent years, the role of emotions is growing interest in the scientific as well as political and economic circles.

Thus, nowadays, many disciplines are studying the ways in which affects and emotions influence behavior and decision making thereby engaging in a true "affective revolution". The latter thus counteracts focusing, often exclusively, on the logical choice to explain human actions. Chosen field psychologists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists and philosophers, the study of emotions today also interested historians, anthropologists, economists, lawyers and computer scientists.

Who are we ?

One of 28 national research clusters in Switzerland funded the Swiss Confederation and administered by the Swiss National Fund for Scientific Research ( The University of Geneva is the host institution of the NCCR Affective Sciences is headed by psychologist David Sander.

NCCR Affective Sciences is the world's first research center dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of emotions and their effects on human behavior and society. It consists of thirteen research groups, bringing together a hundred researchers and associate members of four Swiss universities (Bern, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, Zurich).

Research areas of the NCCR Affective Sciences

The research questions addressed by the NCCR Affective Sciences fall into three major areas:

How are our emotions triggered?

  • The role of brain structures, individual predispositions, the assessment by the individual, emotional event;
  • The expression of emotional responses and action tendencies;
  • Emotional communication.

How do we control our emotions?

  • The control of bodily reactions and feelings by social norms and relationships;
  • The ability to manage emotions in order to avoid stress and burnout;
  • Risk factors for different affective disorders such as anxiety or depression.

How do they influence emotions interpersonal relationships and social interaction?

  • The emotion in professional and family relationships, social groups and society as a whole;
  • The role of social norms and values ​​in the emotional response and control;
  • The role of shame in socializing;
  • The effects of the economic and socio-political changes the emotional experiences and well-being.


NCCR Affective Sciences aims to train the next generation of researchers through an ambitious program of doctoral and post-doctoral training focusing on the capabilities and value of interdisciplinary research (

Exchange with the company: knowledge transfer

Finally, the NCCR Affective Sciences regularly develops research partnerships with public and private sectors regarding the impact of emotions which, for example, in the areas of social policy, health, human resources, art and consumer behavior (