Research Groups

Swiss Emotion Experience, Regulation and Support Lab (chEERS Lab)


The chEERS Lab is a team of researchers headed by Prof. Andrea Samson and located at two universities in the heart of Switzerland: The Swiss Distance University Institute and the University of Fribourg.

We are interested in affective processes such as emotion reactivity and regulation in children, adolescents, and young adults with and without developmental disorders and intellectual disabilities. The ultimate goal of our research is to better understand mechanisms linked to mental health in these populations from an affective science perspective. We currently have multiple studies running on diverse socio-emotional phenomena (positive emotions, humor, emotion regulation) in disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Williams syndrome. We have a strong focus on including novel technologies in assessments such as Virtual Reality (VR), but also for the development of remediation programs. Finally, we are developing board games to foster emotional competences Learn more here. Our ultimate goal is to better formulate treatment implications to improve emotional functioning and well-being in children and adolescents with and without neurodevelopmental disorders. 

We usually recruit French and German speaking participants for our different research projects. Although all our in-lab studies are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can contact us to participate in any of our current online studies, or if you would like to participate in the future in our studies in the lab: emotion(at)

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, we have launched a new international study ( on how people with special needs are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. We are recruiting participants in more than 14 countries and more than 7 different languages. This study will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the specific capacities (limitations and strengths) of people with SN to cope with such an event. This anonymous survey should generate insights and hypotheses about the differences across types and age within types of SN in coping with a similar risk. It will not only contribute to a better understanding of the experiences and feelings of people with SN, but also of their parents, thus informing the design of future interventions to improve their quality of life.



Current Members

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Former lab members

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Les émotions positives et la régulation émotionnelle / Positive Emotionen und Emotionsregulation

(study for French and German speaking participants)

Nous sommes à la recherche de participants entre 5 et 55 ans avec ou sans trouble du développement (troubles du spectre de l'autisme, syndrome de Williams, déficiences intellectuelles) qui souhaitent participer à une étude rémunérée sur les émotions et les interactions sociales. Si intéressé(e), contactez-nous par e-mail: emotion(at) ou par téléphone: 079 521 36 95
Pour plus de détails, veuillez consulter notre brochure: Etude sur les émotions positives et la régulation émotionnelle

Wir suchen Personen zwischen 5 und 55 Jahren mit oder ohne Entwicklungsstörung (z.B. Autismus Spektrum Störung, Williams-Beuren-Syndrom, Geistige Behinderung), welche interessiert sind, an einer Studie über Emotionen und soziale Interaktionen teilzunehmen. Sie werden für die Teilnahme vergütet. Melden Sie sich bei Interesse bitte via Email: emotion(at) oder rufen Sie uns an: 079 521 36 95
Für detailliertere Informationen, bitten konsultieren Sie unsere Broschüre: Eine Studie über positive Emotionen und Emotionsregulation in sozialen Kontexten


Spezielle Bedürfnisse in der Pandemie (Special needs during the pandemic)
Radio rabe, Interview, January 13, 2021

Gefühle sind kein leichtes Spiel (Emotions are not an easy game)
Magazin Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung
, December 2020

Die wunderwaffe Humor
Rabe-Info,  November 16, 2020

I benefici dello humour
Coop Cooperazione, September 28, 2020

Wie geht es Familien von Kindern mit besonderen Bedürfnissenwährend der COVID-19 Pandemie?
How are families of children with special needs doing during the CO-VID-19 pandemic?

WGAS Newsletter n°16, September 2020

Humor zu Zeiten der Krise
Webinar, Interview von Bernhard Altermatt mit Andrea Samson, 7 July 2020

COVID-19: Familien mit besonderen Bedürfnissen am Anschlag?
Alma & Georges, May 26, 2020

T’as voulu voir les Goguettes ? (Did you want to see the Goguettes?)
Le Matin Dimanche, May 3, 2020

Autism researchers adapt studies for a socially distant world
Spectrum, April 30, 2020

L'humour ne modifie pas seulement nos émotions sur le moment
Le Temps, March 31, 2020

L'irrésistible besoin de rire en temps de crise
Bilan, March 29, 2020

The comedy circuity. The mechanics of a joke
New Scientist, 41–42, January 30, 2020

Einzigartige Forschungswelt
Kanal, Januar 9, 2020

Warum lachen Sie eigentlich?
Universitas, January 2020

Zeig mir, wie du spielst
Universitas, January 2020 

Deux professeures de l’institut UniDistance basé en Valais lauréates de bourses du fonds national de la recherche
Le Nouvelliste, March 1, 2019

Riez, c'est bon pour la santé ?
Coopération no.7, Coop, February 12, 2019

Rire est vraiment bon pour notre santé
Planète Santé, July 4, 2018

Pourquoi rire nous rend heureux et plus sociables?
Tribune de Genève, March 11, 2017

Le jeu, un outil pour permettre aux enfants de mieux réguler leurs émotions
Le Journal de l'UNIGE, no. 127, February 16-March 2, 2017

What about humor in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder? 
In: The People's Science, April 1, 2014

Humor ist kein Witz (Humour is not a joke)
Elternmagazin Fritz und Fränzi, 2013

How many psychologists does it take... to explain a joke? Christian Jarrett investigates the psychology of humour and comedy
The Psychologist, 26, 254–259, April, 2013

Stanford researchers investigate the emotional side of autism 
Stanford Report, 2012

Stanford psychologists find that jokes help us cope with horrifying images
Stanford Report, August 1, 2011

Le fossé de l’humour. Le sourire, le rire et l’humour jouent un rôle essentiel, du flirt à la relation durable [The humour gap. Smile, laughter and humor play an essential role, from flirting to lasting relationships] Cerveau&Psycho, April 5, 2011

Das Absurde, Theory of Mind und das Gehirn (The absurd, theory of mind and the brain)
Universitas, das Magazin der Universität Freiburg, 44–46, September 2010

“Fliegt ein Himbeerjoghurt durch den Dschungel” (“Flies a raspberry yoghurt through the jungle”)
NZZ Campus, 30-32, Mai, 2009

Vos “blagues suisses” iront au musée (Your “Swiss jokes” will go to the museum.)
Le Matin bleu, February 26, 2009

“Es gibt auch Leute ohne Humor” (“There are also people without humor”)
Bote der Urschweiz, 9, February 21, 2009

Wie erkennt das Gehirn einen Witz? (How does the brain recognize a joke?)

P.M. Magazin Welt des Wissens, 12, 83, 2008

Bitte recht fröhlich (Please quite cheerful)
Gehirn & Geist, 11, 16–25, 2008

Wo ist der Witz? (Where is the joke?)
Die Zeit, July 26, 2007

Niemand möchte als humorlos gelten (Nobody wants to be humorless])
Der Weg: Schweizerischer Blinden und Sehbehindertenverban, 2007

Interview über Humor und Gehirn (Interview on the brain and humor)
Radio Rabe, October 27, 2006

Humor und Lachen. Wonach suchen HumorforscherInnen? (Humor and laughter. What do humor researchers look for?)
Psychoscope, September, 2006

Ein Experiment mit Humor (An experiment on humor)
Universitas, 29, September, 2006

Humor – eine Analyse aus wissenschaftlicher Perspektive (Humor – An analysis from a scientific perspective)
Uni reflets, 10, 7, August 31, 2006

L’Uni de Fribourg s’est transformée en école du rire [The University of Fribourg transformed in a school of laughter)
La Liberté, July 21, 2006

Die Universität von Fribourg nimmt das Lachen unter die Lupe (The University of Fribourg takes a closer look at laughter)
Radio Fribourg, July 17, 2006

Humor fördert die Lebensqualität: Humorwoche an der Universität Freiburg (Humor fosters quality of life: Humor week at the University of Fribourg)
Freiburger Nachrichten, July 15, 2006

Was ist Humor? Radiointerview: Sind Frauen witzig? (What is humor? Radio interview: Are women funny?)

Radio Kanal K Aarau, August 29, 2005

Kalila die Frauensendung: Radiointerview über Gender und Humor (Kalila the women's programme: Radio interview about gender and humor)
Radio Kanal K Aarau, November 29, 2004