Early Life and Educational Background
Specht was born on April 30, 1986, in Berlin, Germany, and grew up there and in Göttingen, Magdeburg (both in Germany), and Austin, Texas. She earned her diploma in psychology (equivalent to a master degree) in 2010 and her Dr. rer. nat. (equivalent to a Ph.D. in natural science) in 2011 both from the University of Münster, Germany.
Specht worked at the University of Münster, Germany, from 2010 to 2011 and at the Leipzig University, Germany, from 2011 to 2012. From 2012 to 2016, Specht has been a junior professor (similar to an assistant professor) at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Since 2016, she is a professor of assessment and personality psychology at Universität zu Lübeck, Germany. She has authored several scientific publications that have been highly cited and which have appeared in outlets such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Research in Personality and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Social Psychological and Personality Science, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Despite her scientific work, she also regularly publishes popular science articles and currently writes her second popular science book. Specht received scholarships from the German National Academic Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service and is the founder of the scientific network PERDEV: Personality development in adulthood that was funded by the German Research Foundation and she was awarded the Berlin Science Prize for Junior Scientists by the Governing Mayor of Berlin in 2014.
Specht’s primary research interests are in three areas: (1) personality development, (2) personality assessment in old age, and (3) subjective well-being. In her research concerning personality development, she has examined the patterns and sources of adult personality development in the Big Five personality traits and perceived control. She is interested in how these personality traits change with age and in reaction to major life events (e.g., job entry, childbirth, retirement) as well as due to deteriorating health. Furthermore, Specht examines the role of goal-directed personality development. Her research on personality assessment is focused on the reliable and valid assessment of the Big Five personality traits in old age. She aims at combining classical questionnaire and interview data with innovative behavioral observation in everyday life. Finally, in the area of subjective well-being, she is interested in changes in cognitive, affective, as well as psychological well-being in reaction to major life events. In addition, she is interested in the dynamic interplay between subjective well-being and personality development.
- Specht, J. (Ed.). (2017). Personality development across the lifespan. San Diego: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Specht, J., Bleidorn, W., Denissen, J. J. A., Hennecke, M., Hutteman, R., Kandler, C., Luhmann, M., Orth, U., Reitz, A. K., & Zimmermann, J. (2014a). What drives adult personality development? A comparison of theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence. European Journal of Personality, 28, 216–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar