Studying self-regulation in the context of health-related behaviors: theoretical background, research methodology and implications

Target Group

PhD students, in particular those studying self-regulation processes and/or healthrelated behaviors (expected foreknowledge: degree of academic master).

Organizing & Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Dr. Lien Goossens (spokesperson): Faculty: Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department: Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology - E-mail:
  • Prof. Dr. Eva Kemps (Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work)
  • Dr. Sandra Verbeken (Ghent University, Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology)


In this course, experienced senior researchers will provide an overview of different theoretical accounts of self-regulation and recent empirical evidence of how self-regulation processes can explain health-related behaviors in individuals. Specific attention will be paid to the multi-methodological assessment of self-regulation and how this knowledge may be transferred to applications in daily life.

Topic and Objectives

Self-regulation is the regulation of, and by oneself, which emerges during childhood and adolescence (Eisenberg & Zhou, 2016). Although self-regulation is an acknowledged and important contributor to mental health, the literature is characterized by many different definitions and terminology, and assessment methods of self-regulation or its related constructs (Nigg, 2017). In this course, experienced researchers who study self-regulation processes across a range of research domains (clinical developmental psychology, experimental psychology, health psychology) share their expertise on the conceptualization and assessment of self-regulation, and its application to clinical practice. In this way, participating PhD-students are encouraged to broaden their scope, critically reflect on the different theoretical accounts, and learn how they could implement this knowledge in their own ongoing PhD-research.

The participating PhD-students will acquire insight into the role of self-regulation in health-related behaviour. More specifically, this course aims to:
(1) Present several theoretical models of self-regulation and provide an exhaustive overview of the current state of knowledge concerning the role of self-regulation in different health-related behaviors (such as eating, drinking, smoking, etc.)
(2) Increase insight into the multi-methodological assessment of self-regulation with a focus on the use of behavioural measures, self- and/or other report questionnaires in participants of different ages
(3) Demonstrate how theoretical knowledge on this topic can be translated into practical/clinical applications
(4) Help PhD-students reflect on their own ongoing research via an interactive discussion by a panel of senior researchers in this field, in light of their specific questions and relevant issues raised on day one

Dates and Venue

  • 19 + 20 September 2019 (Thu-Fri)

Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, H. Dunantlaan 2, leslokaal 4.2 (4th fl)


  • DAY 1: 19 September 2019

9.00-11.00: Introduction by the organizing committee + lecture Prof. Dr. Eva Kemps
11.00-12.30: lecture Prof. Dr. Frederick Verbruggen
12.30-13.30: lunch
13.30-15.30: lecture Dr. Helle Larsen
15.30-16.00: coffee break
16.00-17.00: lecture Dr. Zhang Chen
17.00-18.00u: assessment of self-regulation (Health Psychology, Developmental Psychopathology team)

  • DAY 2: 20 September 2019

9.00-12.00: first round of PhD presentations + discussion by panel (L. Goossens, E. Kemps, S. Verbeken, H.Larsen)
12.00-13.00: lunch break
13.00-15.30: second round of PhD presentations + discussion by panel
15.30-16.00: coffee break
16.00-17.30: general discussion and closing


  • Prof. Dr. Eva Kemps

Affiliation: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Contact details:
Prof. Dr. Eva Kemps undertook her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in psychology at Ghent University, where she was awarded her PhD in 2000. She subsequently relocated to Adelaide, Australia to take up an academic position at Flinders University, initially as a lecturer. In 2014 she was promoted to Full Professor. In addition to her academic appointment in Psychology, she held a significant research administrative leadership position as Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (2012-2017).

  • Prof. Dr. Frederick Verbruggen

Affiliation: Department of Experimental Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (Ghent University)
Contact details:
Prof. Dr. F. Verbruggen received his PhD from Ghent University in 2005. From 2006 to 2008, he was a visiting fellow at Vanderbilt University (USA). From 2009 to 2010 he was a visiting fellow at Cardiff University (UK). In 2010, he became a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter (UK) where in 2012, he was appointed to a Chair in Cognitive Psychology. Since 2017, he works as Research Professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences.

  • Dr. Helle Larsen

Affiliation: Group of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam
Contact details:
Dr. Helle Larsen teaches in the Master of Developmental and Health Psychology and in the Bachelor specialization of Clinical Developmental Psychology.

  • Dr. Zhang Chen

Affiliation: Department of Experimental Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (Ghent University)
Contact details:
Dr. Chen is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University. He completed his PhD in 2018 at Radboud University (The Netherlands).


Please follow this link:

If the course is fully booked, you can ask to be added to the waiting list by sending an e-mail to . In case of cancellations, you can take the open place.

Registration fee

Free of charge for Doctoral School members of Life Sciences and Medicine and Social and Behavioural Sciences

Teaching methods

Homework before the course: each PhD-student will prepare a PowerPoint presentation (10-15 slides) and e-mail this presentation to the contact person one week before the start of the course (detailed description: see evaluation below)
-DAY 1: lectures (each lecture will include demonstrations of assessment materials) (8 hours). The participants will receive the slides of the speakers.
-DAY 2: presentations by doctoral researchers (5 hours) + mid- and end-point discussions (total of about 2 hours)

Number of participants

maximal 16 PhD students, ensuring intensive feedback on the presentations on DAY 2

Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

Participating PhD-students will produce a PowerPoint presentation (maximum of 10-15 slides) for presenting their own research (DAY 2), including a slide with three specific questions they would like answered/discussed (e.g. on their recruitment plan, design of their study, interpretation of specific results, implications of the findings). A week before the start of the course, the participants are expected to e-mail the slides to the contact person of this specialist course to enable the discussants (Prof. Goossens, Prof. Kemps, Dr. Verbeken) to prepare some points for discussion. After the course, participants will write a report of maximum 0,5-1 page describing how their questions were answered during the plenary discussion and send this report to the contact person of the course.