Prof. Dr. Marcel Zentner

Professor for Personality Psychology, Differential Psychology and Diagnostics

Room: 60 436 (4th floor)
Office hours: by arrangement
Telephone: +43 (0) 512 507-56050



Marcel Zentner studied Psychology, Psychopathology and Philosophy at the University of Zurich. After receiving his PhD, he held professional positions at Harvard University, UC-Berkeley, the University of Geneva, and the University of York (GB). In 2013 he was appointed professor of personality psychology and assessment at University of Innsbruck. Zentner’s research interests are in the areas of personality development, psychological assessment, the psychology of mating, emotion and music. His research has been published in the premier natural science journals Nature and the PNAS as well as in the leading psychology journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Psychological Science. He is also the author of the Handbook of Temperament (Guilford Press), coedited with R. Shiner.

Zentner’s research has been featured by BBC ONE, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, among others, and has received funding though the ESRC, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, and Google. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers in Personality and Social Psychology.


University Degrees  >>

2004 Habilitation in Psychology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
1996 Ph.D., University of Zurich
Diploma (Licentiate) in Psychology, University Zurich
Studies in Psychology, Clinical Child Psychology, and Philosophy, University of Zurich and Harvard University

Academic Positions  >>

Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Innsbruck
Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor), Department of Psychology, University of York
SNF Professorship, University of Geneva
Visiting Scholar, Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley (Spring Term)
Maitre-Assistant, Geneva Emotion Research Group, University of Geneva
Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Selected Publications >>

For a complete list of publications see




Zentner, M. & Shiner, R. (2012). The Handbook of Temperament. New York: Guilford Press [Paperback edition, 2015].

Book chapters

Zentner, M. & Gingras, B. (2019). The assessment of musical ability and its determinants. In J. Rentfrow & D. Levitin (Eds.), Foundations in Music Psychology: Theory and Research (pp. 641-683). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Zentner, M. (2016). Women’s personal resources. In T. Shackelford & V. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Advance online publication.

Journal articles

Zentner, M. (2019). Identifying child temperament risk factors from 2 to 8 years of age: Validation of a brief temperament screening tool in the US, Europe, and China. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1-14. Advance Online Publication.

Zentner, M. (2018). A sadness-independent account of the enjoyment of music-evoked sadness. Physics of Life Reviews, 25, 144-146. doi: 10.1016/j.plrev.2018.03.004

Zentner, M., & Strauss, H. (2017). Assessing musical ability quickly and objectively: Development and validation of the Short-Proms and the Mini-PROMS. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1400, 33-45. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13410

Bardi, A. & Zentner, M. (2017). Grand Challenges for Personality and Social Psychology: Moving beyond the Replication Crisis. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:2068. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02068  

Zentner, M., & Eagly, A. H. (2015). A sociocultural framework for understanding partner preferences of women and men: Integration of concepts and evidence. European Review of Social Psychology, 26, 328-273. doi: 10.1080/10463283.2015.1111599

Zentner, M. & Mitura, K. (2012). Stepping out of the caveman’s shadow: Nations’ gender gap predicts degree of sex differentiation in mate preferences. Psychological Science, 23, 1176-1185. doi: 10.1177/0956797612441004

Law, L. & Zentner, M. (2012). Assessing musical abilities objectively: Construction and validation of the Profile of Music Perception Skills. PLoS ONE 7 (12): e52508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052508

Zentner, M. & Eerola, T. (2010). Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 107, 5568-5573. doi: 

Zentner, M., Grandjean, D., & Scherer, K.R. (2008). Emotions evoked by the sound of music: Characterization, classification, and measurement. Emotion, 8, 494-521. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.8.4.494

Zentner, M., & Renaud, O. (2007). Origins of adolescents’ ideal self: An intergenerational perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 357-375. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.92.3.557


Grants  >>

PI: Tagging online music contents for emotion. A systematic approach based on contemporary emotion research. ESRC: Research Grant ES/K00753X/1
Holbeck Foundation (Doctoral Studentship)
PI: “Assessing child-temperament across ages and cultures,” Swiss National Science Foundation Grant
PI: “Goodness-of-fit between parental aspirations and their children’s individual characteristics”: Jacobs Foundation Grant
PI: “Induction of emotion through music,” Swiss National Science Foundation Grant (with Klaus Scherer)
Swiss National Science Foundation Scholarship

Editorial Service  >>

Editorial Activities

Editor-in-Chief 2014-present
Frontiers in Personality and Social Psychology
Associate Editor  2011-2013
Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences
Editorial Board 2008-present
International Journal of Developmental Science
Ad hoc Reviewer

Behavior Research Methods
British Journal of Psychology
Cognition and Emotion
Developmental Psychology
European Journal of Personality
Family Process                       

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
Motivation and Emotion
Music Perception
Psychological Bulletin
Psychology of Music
Psychological Science                                                                                    

Psychological Review
Swiss Journal of Psychology
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Scientific Reports
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Zeitschrift für Entwicklungs- und Pädagogische Psychologie


Reviewer for Scientific Foundations

  • Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • European Commission. Future and Emerging Technologies
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, UK)
  • French National Science Foundation (Agence de Recherche Nationale)
  • Israel Science Foundation
  • Leverhulme Trust (UK)
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (Social Sciences)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
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