Postdoctoral Fellows

This section features University of Toronto postdoctoral fellows who are a part of the SPRG community. Click on a post-doc’s name to see an expanded description of his or her research interests and contact information.

Dr. Anik Debrot

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Research Interests

I am a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, working at Emily Impett’s Relationships and Well-Being Lab.

My research focuses on the daily gestures within couples that contribute to their individual and interpersonal wellbeing, both in the moment when they occur and over the long term. My work has particularly focused on the role of touch in enhancing the momentary mood of the partners. I have used both daily diary and experimental methods to better understand the mechanisms by which touch can facilitate functional interpersonal emotion regulation.

I am currently expanding my work on touch into the domain of sexuality by investigating how touch can contribute to a more fulfilling sexual life in long-term relationships.

Dr. Miranda Giacomin

Photo of Dr. Miranda Giacomin
Address 100 St. George Street Department of Psychology Toronto ON M5S 353 CanadaWebsite:
Research Interests

I am a Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Nicholas Rule. My research focuses on the cognitive processes that underlie how narcissism develops, how it is expressed, and how it shapes interpersonal relationships. Whereas most past research has investigated narcissists’ tendency to be grandiose, self-focused, and vain as a stable part of who they are, I examine how situations can influence people’s narcissistic tendencies. My research suggests that people’s narcissistic tendencies can vary from moment-to-moment or across contexts. In addition, I examine how people’s narcissism influences first impressions and the success of interpersonal relationships over time. In my postdoctoral research, I am exploring the cues people may use when forming their first impressions of narcissists (e.g., attractiveness, facial features) to get a better sense of where people err versus succeed in correctly identifying someone’s narcissistic tendencies.

Bonnie Le

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Research Interests

Bonnie’s research focuses on how helping others affects personal well-being . She also studies what promotes higher quality relationships between parents and their children, romantic partners, and cross-race individuals by examining processes such as emotions, goals, and autonomic physiological responses.

Dr. Amy Muise

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Research Interests

I have two main lines of research focused on understanding how romantic couples maintain satisfying and fulfilling partnerships. Sexuality is a key factor that promotes happiness in romantic relationships. My first line of research considers how couples can maintain desire and satisfaction over the course of a long-term relationship. Who is buffered against the normative declines in sexual desire over time? What is the role of other intimate behaviours beyond sexual intercourse? To explore these questions I draw on theories of communal relationships, approach-avoidance motivation and hedonic adaption. In my second line of research I focus on understanding how sharing and accessing information on social media sites impacts romantic relationships. Facebook has changed two key things in close relationships – the ability to access information about a partner and the opportunity to share relationship-relevant information to a broader social audience. Who is more likely to make their romantic relationship visible on Facebook and why? How does accessing information about a romantic partner on Facebook influence how a person feels about their relationship? To explore these questions I draw on theories of impression management and investment in close relationships. Taken together, these two lines of research consider the factors that enhance and detract from satisfaction in the highly intimate domain of sexuality and in more public spaces, such as social media sites.

Dr. Vincent Pillaud

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Address Department of Psychology University of Toronto Scarborough 1265 Military Trail Toronto ON M1C 1A5 Canada
Research Interests

My research focuses on two different topics. First, I investigated the useful side of ambivalent attitudes and observed that the expression of such form of attitudes could be controlled and purposely displayed for self-presentational concerns on the one hand and the expression of ambivalent attitudes could lead individuals to be socially valued on the other hand. A second research line focused on the relationship between stereotype vulnerability and social status. Despite the consensual idea that anyone can be affected by stereotypes, it was found that individuals were more or less affected as a function of their social status.

I am now beginning a post-doc under the supervision of Michael Inzlicht.

Dr. Dan Randles

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Research Interests

I work with Dr. Michael Inzlicht at the Social Neuroscience Lab. My current work focuses on understanding why there are individual differences in self-control and whether targeted training can change a person’s tendency to exhibit control for longer periods. I am primarily using social neuroscience techniques to study self-control at the individual level, and machine learning analyses to estimate patterns of control across regions of North America, based on accessible online digital footprints. I have two other lines of research: one focusing on the cognitive process and behavioural consequences of uncertainty, the other on the effect of different emotions, particularly shame, when experiencing life-changing events.

Dr. Daniel Re

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Address Daniel Re Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Sidney Smith Hall 100 St. George Street Toronto ON M5S 3G3 CanadaPhone: 647-973-7365Website:Dan's website
Research Interests

I am a SSHRC-funded postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Nicholas Rule in the Social Perception and Cognition Lab. My research focuses on how facial appearance influences human social interaction. Specifically, my recent work has assessed how facial characteristics alter perception of leadership ability. Studies done in this area have found that facial appearance influences leader selection and is linked to actual leadership aptitude and performance. I examine the perceptual and physical facial dimensions associated with leadership choice and examine how these domains relate to real-world leadership proficiency.

Another line of research I conduct examines how facial characteristics related to body size influence perception of health and attractiveness. Face shape correlates of body weight are reliable indices of body mass index (BMI) and have consistent effects of perceived health and attractiveness in both two- and three-dimensional faces. My recent research in this area investigates perceptual thresholds to facial adiposity (the facial cue linked to BMI), including the just-noticeable differences in body mass index that produces measurable changes in the appearance of health and attractiveness.

Dr. Blair Saunders

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Address Department of Psychology University of Toronto Scarborough 1265 Military Trail Toronto ON M1C 1A5 Canada
Research Interests

Emotions can have either detrimental or beneficial influences on self-control, depending critically upon the context in which emotion arises, or the relevancy of such affect to goal-directed behaviour. My research focusses on the dynamic relationship between emotion and self-control. In one line of my research, I investigate the instrumental influence of negative affect in the initiation of self-control after unexpected challenges to performance, such as response conflict or errors. Secondly, I am interested in the role of goal-irrelevant emotion as a potent source of environmental distraction during effortful performance. Finally, my research also focuses on the influence of personality, disposition and mood states in determining whether negative affect is met with the adaptive up-regulation of control, or catastrophic over-reactions which ultimately have deleterious consequences for on-going behaviour. To pursue these research goals, I use both reaction time analyses and electroencephalography (e.g., ERPs) to study the impact of event history on the behavioural and neural correlates of self-regulation.

Dr. Shelbie L. Sutherland

Photo of Dr. Shelbie L. Sutherland
Research Interests

I am a postdoctoral fellow broadly interested in the cognitive systems that help people to manage the complexities of the world. In Dr. Nick Rule’s SPCL lab, I focus on mechanisms that support reasoning about social groups. My work is motivated by the need to inform more effective interventions against the negative consequences of reasoning at the level of social categories–namely, stereotyping and prejudice. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, working with Dr. Andrei Cimpian. There, she focused on the development of how people reason about categories and how people come to explain their experiences quickly and easily.

Dr. John Paul Wilson

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Research Interests

My research is broadly focused on the interplay of perceiver and target identities in social perception. Much of my work has investigated the role of group memberships in driving person memory and person perception and evaluation. For example, in one primary line of research, I investigate how social categorization drives face memory, with attention to how particular group memberships fulfill the social needs of the perceiver. I am also interested in how social context influences person categorization and judgments. For example, under the supervision of Nicholas Rule, I am investigating how the extraction of ambiguous identities (such as sexual orientation and political affiliation) from faces is influenced by individual and situational factors. We are also interested in how top-down factors such as group membership interact with bottom-up facial characteristics in person perception. I also research intergroup prejudice and prejudice reduction strategies. In summary, across several lines or inquiry, I show how group memberships and related motivations bias perceptions of the social world.