Adaptation Processes in Context


The Adaptation Processes in Context group focuses on the applied spheres of work, education, family, and clinical psychology.

ProAdapt applied research provides pioneering contributions in temporary employment and leadership; self­regulation in socio­educative contexts; cyberbullying; individual and familial psychological assessment and interventions. Our findings promote healthy contexts that enhance individual, team, and family adaptation and contribute to theoretically ­driven solutions to major economic and societal challenges (e.g. literacy acquisition; decent work; quality of life in patients and their families).
ProAdapt includes 36 PhD researchers and 34 PhD students. This group aims to develop knowledge and interventions that promote individual, team and family adaptation in a dynamic and changing society within an applied perspective in clinical, educational, work and social contexts.

We collaborate with international researchers in research projects (e.g. by co­authoring papers, co­editing books and co-­supervising PhDs) and in networks (e.g. International Child and Adolescent Anxiety Assessment Expert Group; Red Europea y Latinoamericana de Escuelas Sistémicas). Our researchers are in the editorial boards and have been acting as s associate editors and editor-­in-­chief in international and national scientific journals (e.g., Journal of Pediatric Psychology: Applied Psychology: Health and Well­being), and are invited as keynote speakers in leading scientific meetings (e.g., International Congress of Applied Psychology, European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology). The ProAdapt group has been involved in inter­university PhD Programs, having supervised 22 postdocs, 60 PhDs (35 with public funding) and 358 MSc between 2013 and 2017.

The research conducted by ProAdapt has provided evidence for public policies (e.g. employment conditions of temporary agency workers, the dissemination of and adherence to therapeutic interventions with impact on health care costs, anti­bullying educational environments); assisted clinical, educational and organizational practitioners by creating and adapting evidence-­based assessment instruments and intervention programs; promoted an active debate between academia and stakeholders (e.g. teamwork promotion, risk management, family-centered health care).











Research Programs

Organizational Psychology

In work and organization psychology, we are leading researchers in the study of temporary agency workers. The number of contingent workers has increased over recent years but studies with these workers remain sparse and little is known about appropriate policies and practices for managing such workers. Adopting the self-determination theory, we have evaluated whether the existing theory, which was developed in the context of standard work, is applied to contingent workers. Moreover, this research has informed managers and policies about job conditions and human-resource practices to promote contingent workers’ motivation and well-being. 

We shed new light on how complex adaptive systems thrive in complex competitive landscapes driven by globalization, technological revolution and unpredictability (funded project “Testing Complexity Leadership Theory: A Computational Model of Adaptive Leadership”). This line of research enhances our understanding on the dynamics of complexity leadership functions, from which possible solutions could be derived. An output of this research was a computational model that is a cost­effective way to test for alternative scenarios and circumvent common problems, such as ethical restrictions, the impact of participant attrition rates between time­points (in longitudinal research), and restricted ranges in the data.

Health and Clinical Psychology

In clinical and health psychology, we have investigated change processes in the treatment of anxiety disorders in school aged children, within the framework of a broader line of research that seeks to study the efficacy/effectiveness and the processes of change in psychological interventions. The processes of therapeutic change are rarely studied (i.e. how and in what conditions the psychological interventions work), although knowledge on these processes is crucial to improve existing psychological interventions. Based on a cognitive-behavioural model of child’s anxiety disorders, we examined the change in potential mediators (interpretation biases, perceived control, and coping) and treatment outcomes with longitudinal designs. We have also examined modifiable risk factors for children’s anxiety (e.g. parents’ overprotection and concern) that can be targeted in preventative and therapeutic interventions. We have also investigated agreement and discrepancies in the evaluation of children’s anxiety.

We have also developed a solid body of research focused on mapping the processes of adaptation of parents and children in families facing adversity (e.g. children’s mental health and chronic health conditions, economic disadvantage and hardship and stressful non­normative transitions). We applied methodologically sophisticated dyadic studies with child/parent and couples dyads, taking into account the well­known need to understand and consider the interdependence of family members. Research findings have allowed to identify potentially modifiable family factors that are used as optimal targets for multi­systemic interventions.

Educational Psychology

In educational psychology, using a socio-cognitive perspective, the Program for Studies in Cyberbullying contributes to diagnosing cyberbullying and to understanding what determines this behavior. This research comprises cross-sectional studies with objective longitudinal measures. It provides education professionals with insights on how self-efficacy beliefs, subjective norms, moral beliefs and the bystander effect impact impulsive and reflective processes in aggressive and pro-social behavior. Findings guided the development of a digital application to detect cyberbullying and provide users with help and training in assertiveness to communicate online, as well as an educational game to provide awareness and coping strategies. 

Another line of research includes the study of adaptation and well­being in a school context. We have designed, adapted and implemented programs for the promotion of students’ social and emotional competencies, and have conducted psychometric studies that support the efficacy evaluation of those programs. Additionally, we have enhanced our understanding of teachers? professional stress with the ultimate goal of preventing burnout symptoms, enhancing job engagement and thus contributing to optimize their teaching effectiveness and to foster a supportive learning environment. This knowledge will inform future educational policies and intervention practices and thus contribute to construct better teaching and learning environments.

Research Team

• Maria José Chambel •

• Maria José Chambel •

Personal presentation

Maria José Chambel joined Cicpsi in 2012 and first had a spell as coordinator of the group of Careers and Organizations and now coordinate the group Adaptation Process in Context (ProAdapt) group focuses on the applied spheres of work and organizations, education and individual and family clinic.  Maria José has written and researched extensively in the area of organizational psychology and human resource management.


Main research interests are the employment relationship of contingent workers, the contextual variables with influence on human services workers’ well-being and the relationship between work and personal (family) life.


Chambel, M.J., Carvalho, V.S., Cesário, F., & Lopes, S. (2017). The work-to-life conflict mediation between job characteristics and well-being at work: Part-time vs. full-time employees. Career Development International, 22(2), 142-164.

Chambel, M.J., Lopes, S., & Batista, J. (2016). The effects of temporary agency work contract transitions on well-being InternationalArchives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 89(8), 1215-1228.

Chambel, M. J., Lorente, L., Carvalho, V. & Martínez, I. (2016). Psychological contract profiles among permanent and temporary agency workers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 31(1), 79-94.

Chambel, M.J., Castanheira, F., Oliveira-Cruz, F., & Lopes, S. (2015). Work context support and Portuguese soldiers’ well-being: The mediating role of autonomous motivation. Military Psychology, 27(5), 297-310.

Chambel, M. J., Sobral, F., Espada, M., & Curral, L. (2015). Training, exhaustion and commitment of temporary agency workers: A test of employability perceptions. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24(1), 15-30.




Contingent workers
Work-Family (life) relationship
Well-being at work

Activity highlights

Scientific Award of University of Lisbon (2017).
Publons Peer Review Awards 2018 (one of the top 1 per cent of peer reviewers in Business, Management and Accounting).

Associate Editor of:
—Spanish Journal of Psychology;
—Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa;
—International Journal of Business Studies Review.

Research Team Coordinator