Before coming to the U.S. (and becoming a social psychologist), Michael studied Political Science at Otto-Friedrich Universität Bamberg, and at Freie Universität Berlin's Otto-Suhr-Institute of Political Science, Germany. He also holds a M.A. in Sociology from the University of South Carolina, where he conducted network exchange experiments at the Laboratory for Sociological Research. Michael's research focuses primarily on social networks , implicit theories (i.e., the "mindsets" people have about themselves, others, or organizations), and their social psychological interplay.
He is currently working on several projects, which seek to explore the link between implicit beliefs ("mindsets") on the micro level and large scale social phenomena. For example, "From Belief to Structure" explores how people's mindsets affect the emergence, structure and transformation of social networks. In another project ("Shifting Climates") he shows that specific mindsets are linked to beliefs about climate change, as well as behavior toward the environment. Building on these insights, he is currently developing a novel mindset intervention to raise awareness about climate change and global warming.
Michael is an award-winning teacher of Social Networks. At Stanford, he teaches "The Power of Social Networks in Everyday Life" (Summer Session 2017 and 2018), "Topics in Sociology: Social Networks" (Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies 2018) and "Introduction to Social Networks" (Winter 2019).