Norbert Semmer


031 - 631
031 - 631 40 27

Institution : Unitobler
Department : Institute of Psychology

General Information

Professor for the Psychology of Work and Organizations
Main research area: Stress and emotions at work, and their relationship to well-being, health, and productivity


  • Master\'s Degree 1976, Freie Universität Berlin
  • PhD 1983, Technical University of Berlin (Thesis on "Stress-Related Task Analysis")
  • Habilitation 1987, Technical Unversity of Berln (Thesis on Smoking among Adolescents)
  • 1976-1978 Projekt "Stress at Work" (Pricnipal investigators: Proff. Greif (Berlin) and Ulich (Zürich)
  • 1978-1982  Assistant Professor, Technical University of Berlin
  • 1982-1986 Project "Health Behavior in Childhood and Adolescence" (first as head of the psychology team, from 1984 as principal investigator and program director for the project as a whole)
  • From april, 1987: Head of the Work and Organizational Psychology Program at the University of Bern

Member of editorial boards:

  • European Journal of work and Organizational Psychology
  • Journal of Occupatonal Health Psychology
  • Perspectives on Psychology
  • Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
  • Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie

Current Research

1. Main focus: Stress and Emotions at work and their relationship with well-being, health, and productivity.

Main approach:

  • Methodologically: Wherever possible, use more than one measurement approach, such as questionnaire, job observation, diary, physiology (esp. cortisol), medical outcomes (esp. back pain)), use longitudinal design
  • Theoretically: An offense to self is considered an important element of many stressful experiences, leading to new concepts such as Illegitimate Tasks, Illegitimate Stressors, Dysfunctional Social support.

      Part of this research is carried out in close cooperation with F. Tschan, Université de Neuchâtel, who is an expert on group processes, social interaction, and emotion work.

2. Efficiency of work behavior

  • Spontaneous development of strategies in groups (in close cooperation with F. Tschan, who is principal investigator in pertinent projects),
  • Training
  • Human error

Selected Publications

  • Keller, A. C., Meier, L. L., Gross, S., Semmer, N. K. (2015) Gender differences in the association of a high quality job and self-esteem over time: A multiwave study. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 24(1), 113-125.
  • Tschan, F., Seelandt, J. C., Keller, S., Semmer, N. K., Kurmann, A., Candinas, D., Beldi, G. (2015) Impact of case-relevant and case-irrelevant communication within the surgical team on surgical site infection. British Journal of Surgery 102(13), 1718-1725.
  • Semmer, N. K., Jacobshagen, N., Meier, L. L., Elfering, A., Beehr, T. A., Kälin, W., Tschan, F. (2015) Illegitimate tasks as a source of work stress. Work & Stress 29(1), 32-56.
  • Semmer, N. K., Elfering, A., Baillod, J., Berset, M., Beehr, T. A. (2014) Push and pull motivations for quitting: A three-wave investigation of predictors and consequences of turnover. Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie 58, 173-185.
  • Pereira, D., Semmer, N. K., Elfering, A. (2014) Illegitimate tasks and sleep quality: An ambulatory study. Stress and Health 30, 209-221.