Heike Krüger


Heike Krüger

Methods of Empirical Social Research

Research Associate


Since November 2022 I am a research assistant at the Institute of Sociology at the chair of methods of empirical social research, held by Prof. Thomas Grund. My methodological focus is on the application of network analytic methods and intensive longitudinal models for the analysis of panel data. I am particularly interested in the quantitative analysis of co-dependencies between social relationships and mental health among adolescents and young adults. I gained experience in data collection in the context of a within-school panel survey (Socialbond), Thereby I also participated in the collection of network data and conducted three smartphone-based expierence sampling studies with adolescents and recent immigrants in Germany. In teaching, I focus on the transfer of methodological knowledge and the correct transfer of theoretical assumptions into the process of data analysis.


Phone: +49 241 80 97771

Academic Positions

RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Chair for methods in social science research, Prof. Dr. Thomas Grund

Research Associate

Since 11/2022

Universität zu Köln, Germany
Chair of Sociology I,
Prof. Dr. Clemens Kroneberg

Research Associate

Since 04/2021

Universität zu Köln, Germany
Chair of Sociology I,
Prof. Dr. Clemens Kroneberg

Project employee in the Socialbond-project



University Career

University to Cologne (Cologne)
Doctoral studies in social sciences

- Main focus:
Mental Health sociology, Quantitative methods, Network analysis

- Thesis: "Mental health and social relationships in adolescents and young adults"

Since 10/2019

University to Cologne (Cologne)
Sociology & Social Research - Master of Sience

- Main focus:
Sociology of youth, Sociology of families, quantitative methods,
Network Analysis

- Thesis: "Big Five and Perceived Social Support. A Social Network Analysis of Reciprocal Caustation using RSiena"


University to Cologne (Cologne)
Social Sciences-Bachelor of Science

- Main focus:
Sociology, Social Psychology, Quantitative Methods

- Thesis: "Parental parenting styles and adolescent self-control: an emprical analysis."


Publications & Working Paper

Wittek, M., Lenkewitz, S., Wingen, A., Lämmermann, K., Krüger, H., Tarnowski, A. (2022). Welche kontextuellen Faktoren beeinflussen interethnische Beziehungen in der Schule? Eine explorative Netzwerkanalyse. In: Kruse, H., Teltemann, J. (eds) Differenz im Raum. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-35009-3_9
Krueger, H., Grund, T. (forthcoming). Dual perspectives in social support relationships.
Krueger, H., Krause, R. (forthcoming). Co-Development of Group Integration, Loneliness, and Mental Health within the School Context.
Krueger, H. (forthcoming). Everyday discrimination, co-ethnic social support and mood changes in young adult immigrants in Germany – Evidence from an ecological momentary assessment study.
Krueger, H., Kruse, H., Kroneberg, C. (forthcoming). Mode of contact with friends and mood changes in German adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic – An ecological momentary assessment study.


Possible topics for theses

Mental health and perception of social relationships

Codeveloptment of personality traits and social networks in adolescence

Negative ties and loneliness


1. Mental health and perception of social relationships

How reliable is the recall of social relationships? A symptom of many mental illnesses is the distorted perception of social relationships, which can jeopardize the maintenance of those very relationships. While the influence is well studied for the immediate social environment, it remains unclear to what extent the social structure of the extended social environment may also be perceived distortively. This thesis aims to investigate how mental health affects differences in perceptions of social relationships among other individuals. The thesis may take the form of a systematic review or a research design.


2. Codeveloptment of personality traits and social networks in adolescence

In personality research, the importance of genetic predispositions and related genetically driven maturation is often emphasized and personality traits are considered to be mostly stable over time. On the contrary though, longitudinal empirical research suggests that changes in personality appear over the whole life course. Especially for adolescence and early adulthood empirical findings indicate the occurrence of maturing processes and that some traits tend to decrease and others tend to increase. These findings strengthen the importance to investigate which factors trigger changes in personality traits. In adolescence, the social influence of peers is of particular importance. Furthermore, it can be expected that positive or negative sanctions as responses to the display of one’s current personality traits are of importance for further development. Personality traits also influences the individuals' social relationships and how these are perceived. Depending on their personalities individuals can have different responses to the same stimuli. Individuals with e.g. high levels of extraversion tend to perceive the same social interaction as more pleasant, resulting from their larger extent of sociability. Shy and reserved behavior may lead to a smaller number of social contacts. The thesis should explore the codependence between personality trait(s) and social relationships in adolescence. It may take the form of empirical work or a systematic review.


3. Negative ties and loneliness

Loneliness poses an acute and widespread threat to physical and mental health in the Western world. Social isolation and loneliness increase the risk for early mortality, coronary heart disease, and dementia as well as mental illnesses. Social isolation refers to the actual and objective characteristics of a social situation. Symptomatic for social isolation is the absence of social relationships and the lack of embeddedness into a community. However, loneliness is the personal experience of a social situation, which can deviate from the objective characteristic. Often definitions of social isolation center on the absence of social relationships. An additional risk lies in the occurrence of poor-quality relationships or negative social interactions. As part of your thesis, you have the opportunity to empirically investigate the relationship between negative social networks and loneliness or to prepare a systematic review.