Graduate Students

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

Ravin Alaei

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Research Interests

Person perception, accuracy, consistency in impressions, intelligence, mimicry.

Max Barranti

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Address Department of Psychology University of Toronto Deerfield Hall, Room 4062 Mississauga ON CanadaPhone: (905) 828-5297
Research Interests

Max is interested in understanding the ways in which people see themselves and their social world. Specifically, Max explores if and when self and others’ perceptions converge, why perceptions fail to converge, and whether shared reality has consequences for the self or other people. For example, do people know what they are like? Are some people better judges of character than others? Is self-knowledge adaptive?

R. Thora Bjornsdottir

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Research Interests

Thora’s research focuses on how perceivers’ and targets’ group memberships affect person perception and memory. She is also interested in factors influencing accuracy in categorization of members of perceptually ambiguous groups.

Lindsey Cary

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Research Interests

I am currently conducting several lines of research related to prejudice and stereotyping. I am curious about how external and internal factors, such as context and individual differences, influence perceptions of outgroup members. Specifically, I am exploring how these factors relate to age and race stereotypes. I am also developing a line of research that explores the role that videogames can play in intergroup relations, both their positive and negative aspects. In my future research, I hope to expand and connect these lines of research.

Chad Danyluck

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Research Interests

Chad  studies the psychological factors that lead to and that undermine conflict between groups. His current lines of research examine: (1) how perceptions of similarity and conflict affect interest in cross-group friendship, (2) the social consequences of money and money-related beliefs, and (3) the effects of meditation on intergroup harmony. Chad’s methodological approach is multi-faceted, incorporating dyadic experimental designs with psychophysiological instrumentation, behavioural measures, and self-report.

Lisa Day

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Research Interests

Lisa’s main line of research focuses on how people make decisions in their romantic relationships. Specifically, she studies how people decide to have sex with their romantic partners on a daily basis, and how people decide to make sacrifices for their romantic partners. In a second line of research, she is studying the effects of comparisons individuals make between their current romantic partner and other relevant individuals (e.g. past romantic partners) on relationship satisfaction and commitment.

Philip Desormeau

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Research Interests

Phil is a Masters student in the Clinical Psychology program housed at UTSC. He is broadly interested in the cognitive-affective and neurobiological mechanisms underlying problem-focused coping and affect regulation in both healthy and psychiatric populations. Currently, he is studying the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on cognitive and cortical reactivity to sadness provocation, and how these factors impact risk to relapse in patients highly vulnerable to major depression.

Nathaniel Elkins-Brown

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Research Interests

Nat’s research explores the involvement of rapid and transient emotions in self-control, self-regulation, and performance-monitoring. Broadly, he tries to understand how moment-to-moment affect facilitates and impedes controlled processes, and how it may be possible to direct this affect in ways that let us cultivate self-control. In one line of research, Nat studies how affective information from task errors and response conflicts impact various control processes, such as error awareness and behavioural adjustments. In a second line of research, he investigates how different strategies for regulating these rapid emotions—such as mindfulness meditation—may bring about their salutary effects on self-control and health. In pursuit of these research goals, Nat makes use of a wide variety of methods, such as reaction time analyses, experience sampling, facial electromyography (EMG), and electroencephalography (e.g., ERPs).

 

Amanda Ferguson

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Research Interests
Amanda is a Masters student in the Clinical Psychology program at UTSC. She is broadly interested in mindfulness, and the ways in which mindfulness-based therapies can influence emotion regulation and self-control.

 

Zoë Francis

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Research Interests

Zoë is beginning her third year (2016/2017) of her PhD in the Social Neuroscience Lab with Michael Inzlicht.   She is currently studying ego depletion and mental fatigue, from theoretical, neural, and social frameworks.  She is interested in how people’s perspectives and expectations of fatigue change their experiences, as well as how people project their own experience of fatigue onto other people.  In previous years, she has also done work on the methodology of ego depletion, and continues to emphasize methodology, statistics, and open science in all her empirical work.  Broadly, Zoë wants to understand individual differences in self-control, lay theories, and beliefs, and how these traits interact.

 

Nick Hobson

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Research Interests

Nick is broadly interested in how the various evolutionary and proximal processes shape our social-cognitive and affective states. In his main line of research, Nick is looking at the effects of collective ritual on intergroup dynamics and understanding the role of ritualistic behaviors within and across systems of religion, culture, politics, and business. His second line of research investigates the adaptive and social significance of executive function. In exploring these questions, Nick uses both behavioral and neuropsychological methods.

Maria Iankilevitch

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Research Interests

I am interested in researching prejudice involving different populations, and in particular, on the effects of stereotyping and biases on intergroup relations.  I am focusing on people’s attitudes towards interracial relationships and how they relate to behaviors towards these couples.

James Kim

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Research Interests

My research interests lie mainly at the intersection of romantic relationships and sexuality. Currently, I’m interested in studying sexual rejection in the context of romantic relationships and the different ways partners communicate with each other during situations of potential conflict.

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.

Hause Lin

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Research Interests

Hause is exploring how we make decisions in the Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience with Dr. Michael Inzlicht. He hopes to use a multi-method approach to study decision processes.

Jessica Maxwell

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Phone: 416-978-3210
Research Interests

I am interested in examining attachment processes in romantic relationships, and factors that influence the accuracy of perceptions in relationships. My specific research interests include the influence of attachment on empathic accuracy, relationship expectancies, and social exclusion. I am also interested in implicit theories of relationships, and how they can be applied to the sexual domain.

Claire Midgley

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Phone: 416-978-7344
Research Interests

I’m interested in social comparisons in online contexts and how they compare with traditional face-to-face comparisons. Specifically, I’m currently looking at the prevalence, direction, and consequences of comparisons made on Facebook and whether their effects are moderated by perceiver’s self-esteem.

Rob Redford

Research Interests

I am interested in questions of self-knowledge and interpersonal outcomes associated with a variety of social and cognitive constructs, but I am currently focused on how the components of mindfulness (attention and acceptance of present-moment experience) are linked with these things. For instance, does mindful attention to a social situation promote more accurate judgments of others, including judgments of how others see you (meta-accuracy)? Further, do mindful attention and acceptance promote a better understanding of one’s own abilities across social, emotional, and cognitive tasks/contexts?

Jeffrey Sean Robinson

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Address Department of Psychology Sidney Smith Hall 100 St. George Street Toronto ON M5S3G3 CanadaPhone: 416-978-7344
Research Interests

Jeff is interested in how the dynamic interplay between emotion and cognition fosters the development of moral beliefs and attitudes. His research draws on a growing literature that sets out to elucidate how cognitions and emotions contribute to both individual moral judgments and overarching moral values. In one line of research Jeff is investigating how individual differences influence the perception of harmful actions. A second line of research sets out to uncover the role of trait utilitarianism in moral judgments and actions. Finally, Jeff is also investigating how need states influence moral behaviour.

Amanda Sharples

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Research Interests

Amanda’s main line of research focuses on intergroup contact. Specifically, she is examining how contact with outgroups through social interaction and media influence intergroup attitudes at the individual and societal-level. To gain a comprehensive understanding of how these processes unfold in daily life, Amanda uses a multi-method approach that combines self-report, behavioural, and physiological measures with daily diary and experience sampling designs.

 

Victor Swift

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Research Interests

The way that individuals relate to the world may influence their emotional profiles and subsequent mental health. My research pertains to this possibility. Because narrative provides insight into individuals’ worldviews, my investigations are rooted in narrative analysis. Ultimately, I intend to uncover patterns between relational language categories and emotional profiles that may be used to form more effective diagnosis and treatment methods for emotional disorders.

Sabrina Thai

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Address Department of Psychology 100 St. George Street Toronto ON M5S3G3 CanadaPhone: 416-978-7344
Research Interests

On a daily basis, individuals are bombarded with information about other people and other relationships, providing them with numerous opportunities to compare themselves, their romantic partners, and their relationships. Though these comparisons may occur almost automatically, a quick Internet search reveals numerous magazine articles and blog posts advising individuals to stop comparing themselves, their partners, and their relationships because these comparisons are harmful to their relationships. However, it is unclear how such comparisons may affect feelings for or behaviour toward one’s partner, or satisfaction with one’s relationship.
In my research, I examine the relational consequences of social comparisons that occur in the context of close relationships. My research spans three lines of study aimed at understanding comparisons that occur at various levels of the relationship: comparisons that occur within the relationship (i.e., between romantic partners), comparisons that occur between relationships, and comparisons that occur both within and between relationships (i.e., when individuals compare close others to other individuals). Taken together, my research demonstrates that how individuals see themselves in relation to close others shapes their comparison responses. These responses, in turn, have important relationship consequences. That is, when individuals see close others as a valued part of the self, they are motivated to protect close others and their relationships following threatening comparisons to superior others and superior relationships (i.e., upward comparisons); these protective responses in turn have positive consequences for the relationship.
I am also interested in methodological issues more broadly. In my emerging fourth line of research on innovative research methods and tools. In collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould, I developed ExperienceSampler, an open-source smartphone app for experience sampling, to minimize, and even eliminate, many of the barriers that prevent researchers from adopting this approach. ExperienceSampler minimizes the high implementation costs often associated with this approach by using participants’ own iOS and Android devices (including tablets and iPod touches) and uses technologies that are either open-source or available for free (e.g., Google Services, Dropbox, and Cordova). Furthermore, ExperienceSampler’s signaling and data collection functions do not rely on Internet connectivity or a cellular signal: Participants will receive signals and can complete questionnaires anywhere, even if they have no cell signal or WiFi access. You can learn more about ExperienceSampler here

Konstantin Tskhay

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Phone: 416-946-0411
Research Interests

Konstantin is interested in person perception. More specifically, he is interested in the social cognitive processes involved in the accuracy of categorization of the members of ambiguous groups.

Xiaowen Xu

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Research Interests

Xiaowen is interested in studying different types of meaning frameworks and meaning threats/violations. Specifically, she is interested in understanding how individual differences (e.g., personality traits, political orientation, disgust sensitivity) may affect people’s responses to different types of meaning threats. As well, she is interested in examining how differences in political orientation manifest in people’s beliefs, social behaviours, and trait personality. In her research, Xiaowen makes use of both behavioural and neuropsychological methods to explore these topics.