New Humboldt Professorship in Education research

for LEAD's Distinguished International Professor Kou Murayama

The University of Tübingen has gained a new Alexander von Humboldt Professor in the 2021 round of applications. Professor Kou Murayama, a psychologist and expert in education research, is moving to the University of Tübingen’s Department of Social Sciences on Germany's highest-endowed international research prize. Up to now, he has been conducting research at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and is a Distinguished Interational Professor at the Hector Research Institute of Education Sciences and Psychology.

The Humboldt Professorship is sponsored with five million euros over five years. Murayama will be appointed to a chair of Education Psychology at the Center for Education Science.

“Kou Murayama’s research approaches combine various disciplines from education, social and developmental psychology to neuroscience. The University of Tübingen is already very well established in all these areas. His appointment will bring the priorities together in a new way and give them fresh impetus,” said University President, Professor Bernd Engler.

With a focus on learning processes, Murayama explores what motivates people and what can strengthen or weaken motivation. For example, one of his studies published with colleagues showed that in mathematics learning, motivation is more important than intelligence in the long term. This study attracted a lot of international attention. In his work on learning success, Murayama addresses a number of aspects that are also of central importance for education research. Among other things, he examines the influence of the family, intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, the role of competition, curiosity, and interests. Another widely acclaimed Murayama study showed that children's learning performance measurably deteriorates when parents have too high or unattainable expectations of them. Internationally, he is regarded as one of the driving forces in the further development of motivation research. The data basis of Murayama's work is considered particularly diverse. It is based on psychological experiments as well as longitudinal studies and neuroimaging studies.

Kou Murayama was born in Japan, where he also studied and received his doctorate. Murayama has been a researcher at the University of Reading, UK, since 2013. He is a research professor there and heads the Motivation Science Lab that he founded. Prior to that, he spent research periods in the USA and Germany, including a Humboldt Research Fellowship at LMU Munich and a visiting professorship at the University of Tübingen. Murayama has received numerous prizes for his research, including awards from the American Psychological Association and the Japanese Psychological Association.

Humboldt Professorships are aimed at bringing top international researchers to Germany. Candidates are nominated by the universities and the winners are selected by the Humboldt Foundation. The Foundation has so far selected five Humboldt Professors for 2021. The Professorship is to be awarded at a ceremony in May 2021.