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Katrin Heimann

I am a trained philosopher (M.A.) and cognitive neuroscientist (M.Sc., PhD i), currently working as Assistant Professor at the Interacting Minds Centre. Since 2017, a large part of my research activity focuses on PLAYTrack and specifically a systematic exploration of "playfulness" as a cognitive state of mind that can be taken by people of all ages (not just kids) and across a variety of activities (not just play). I have been working on this via a number of research and consultancy projects see below. I am deeply convinced in the need for triangulation for all kind of research around cognition and have myself specialized in a specific interview method, Micro-Phenomenology (MP), that focuses on assessing subjective experiences (see below as well).


Research Project Ducks in a box

exploring the "features of playfulness" via a lego building task with adults (singles – see publication - and pairs - upcoming) using a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures (micro-phenomenological interview, questionnaires, secondary RT-tasks, ECK, - more in planning)  

Research cooperation with the Southafrican NGO Tree

exploring the use of MP in facilitating common reflections and discussions about playfulness and in catalysing the mindset changes needed to replace traditional paedagogical principles with the principles of playful learning.

Research cooperation with the Experience Team of IMS

to explore how MP can inform their development of play tool boxes for developmental country contexts. 

Research Project “Catch me if you can” with Trapholt Museum, AROS, Kunsthal and Kvindemuseet Aarhus

Exploring the importance of playfulness in museum and specifically art exhibition experiences and the role of curator/dissemination methods for that purpose


On Micro-Phenomenology

Micro-phenomenology is an empirical interview method used to elicit fine-grained descriptions of lived experience, and is especially well-suited to capturing the temporal unfolding of mental processes (Petitmengin, 2006; Petitmengin & Bitbol, 2009). The micro-phenomenological interview process involves an interviewer guiding the interviewee to vividly re-evoke a past experience, and then describe it in careful detail, whilst letting go of preconceptions and expectations about the nature of experience. In other words, a form of phenomenological reduction is enacted, which aims to move closer to a precise description of the experience, rather than capturing ideas, interpretations and rationalisations about it.

A distinctive feature of the micro-phenomenological interview is that it provides a means of accessing not only readily available details of an experience but also previously unnoticed aspects of it, for instance because they were not in focal attention at the time or were rather subtle (Petitmengin, 2006). In phenomenological terminology, these aspects of experience are considered pre-reflective, or in more psychological terms, pre-conscious.

While the individual interviews serve to draw this very fine grained picture of unique subjective experience, a sophisticated analysis method afterwards allows the search for general structures of types of experiences.

This allows to ask questions unpreceded by contemporary empirical research.

I have been trained in MP by Claire Petitmengin and am currently acting as one of her assistants, helping in the further dissemination and refinement of the method. This reflects also that methodological questions about MP are one of my main research interest. In particular, I am eager exploring the scope of a mixed Method interaction of MP with other observational or physiological measurements.  I am happy to receive respective questions about the scope of the method or its suitability for specific research questions. I am also receiving applications for internships/theses related to this field.


Publications relating to play