Past Graduate Students
Alex Tran: MITACS Postdoctoral Fellowship, GoodLife Fitness; Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Alberta
Konstantyn Sharpinskyi: Statistical Consultant and Data Scientist, University of Waterloo.
Eldar Eftekhari: Phd Program in Clinical Psychology, University of Ottawa
Chelsea Ferriday: VP Operations/ COO @ Loyyal - Internet of Loyalty blockchain startup
Mike Prentice: Teacher-Scholar, Post Doctoral Fellow, Wake Forest University
Kyle Nash: Assistant Professor, University of Alberta
Mike Logue: Applied PhD Graduate, Brock University; Hamilton Police Force Officer
Reeshma Haji: Associate Professor, Laurentian University
If you think you might like to join our lab as a volunteer or honors thesis student, please email Dr. McGregor (email@example.com) an unofficial copy of your transcript, a statement about your research interests and goals, and email addresses for two references who have supervised you in academic or other work-related projects and who could comment on your work habits.
If you would like to join our lab as a graduate student, feel free to email the above information along with GRE scores if you have them, to introduce yourself and alert us to expect your formal application. Please note that no decisions about graduate school can be made until your complete, formal application package is received by University of Waterloo Graduate Studies (December 15th deadline; https://uwaterloo.ca/discover-graduate-studies/). Your application will be jointly reviewed by all of our Social Psychology faculty members early in the Winter term.
Lab Director, Dr. Ian McGregor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I was hired as an Assistant Professor by York University in 1999 and moved to a the University of Waterloo as a Full Professor in 2015. My collaborators and I have conducted experiments with over ten thousand participants probing basic dynamics of human motivations and relations. The research indulges my curiosity about mysteries of human nature and social phenomena. More importantly, it also involves empirical testing of circumstances that make people cooperative and reasonable vs. hostile and selfish, resilient and thriving vs. anxious and ineffective. Psychology is a young science and discoveries with important social implications are still out there for the finding. Some of the most serious threats to human survival seem psychological at the core, but clear answers can seem elusive. Why aren’t we responding with appropriate urgency to the climate crisis? Why is war still a prevalent threat to human survival? What causes religious and ideological extremism, and why do people blow themselves up for a cause or go on shooting rampages? Closer to home, why do neighbors and family members so often have a hard time getting along? Why do anxiety and depression so frequently blight human thriving? Might psychological science help people understand themselves and others better, for wiser and more meaningful living?
Psychological science is beginning to reveal answers to these kinds of questions. For example, we are discovering that basic processes related to anxiety are deeply embedded in diverse manifestations of human motivation, and often lie in disguise at the heart of important social phenomena. Consider the puzzling question of why people so readily become closed-minded and blind to others’ perspectives in conflicts? Our research has found that just spending two minutes reflecting on a troubled close relationship or struggling with a difficult math assignment is enough to make some people become belligerent and convinced that their opinions about contentious social issues are better than others’. We have also found that anxious arousal from the same seemingly trivial personal uncertainties can make some people significantly more closed-minded and willing to strive, kill, and die for their religious convictions. People usually do not recognize such seemingly minor experiences as anxiety-provoking, but we repeatedly find that they cause physiological signs of anxiety and defensively rigid reactions, nonetheless.
If such minor anxiety manipulations in the laboratory can cause socially consequential outcomes, how might the more serious and chronic anxieties in many people’s real lives affect their well-being and capacities to relate constructively and openly with others? How might the chronic anxieties associated with abuse, poverty, or geopolitical conflict affect people’s ability to think clearly, act wisely, and love compassionately? These questions become all the more pressing when one considers that even though anxiety-related manipulations in our experiments reliably bias people’s judgments and make them closed-minded, individual participants almost always laugh off the possibility that their
own judgments could have been skewed by such simple little experimental manipulations. Thus, as Freud noticed over 100 years ago, it seems that anxiety-related processes can bias judgments and defensive reactions beneath conscious
The new, wireless, electroencephalographic (EEG) technology (pictured on the website home-page) we have recently begun to use in our laboratory allows us to tap directly into the underlying physiological processes and motivations. Our EEG neuroheadsets are far quicker and easier to use than conventional EEG caps (see METHODS link for description of the huge increase in efficiency), and so they enable high powered social neuroscience research beyond what has previously been possible. Used together with true experiments that allow for conclusions about causality (i.e., experiments that randomly assign participants to conditions), the headsets enable unprecedentedly powerful social neuroscience
experiments. We expect this power to reveal new insights into non-conscious dynamics of human nature and social phenomena. In addition to being scientifically exciting, this new technology is also personally exciting because it allows for a return to my biomedical science roots while asking big questions about motivational mechanics of human relations.
We recently used them to collect data from over 1000 participants in studies of basic neural processes related to anxiety, excitement, helplessness, power, compassion, religious devotion, inspiration, and self-control. The results show the basic neural processes that drive diverse social phenomena, and suggest avenues for adaptive interventions. I find these new discoveries exciting because my research is guided not only by curiosity about why we humans are capable of both magnanimity and malevolence, but also by a hopeful hunch that illuminating basic dynamics of human motivations and relations might help improve our human capacity to thrive and survive.
When not working I like being in nature with my children (8, 6, and 3), partner (also a psychology professor), and our extended families. In all the free time I keep being surprised at not having, I plan to improve our garden and upgrade my guitar skill beyond its current capacity to amuse small children with the same 10 songs I’ve been playing for the past 20 years. We are also about to get a fluffy kitten named Sophie.
meaning and I kept wondering about human nature, so I quit the drug business as soon as I could afford to and completed a BA, MA, PhD, and Post-Doc in psychology. My research focused on questions about relationships, well-being, and people’s capacity for kindness, cooperation, and open-mindedness.
Emily completed her B.A. Honours in Psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston. She is now entering her second year of her PhD in Social Psychology here at the University of Waterloo. Emily is broadly interested in exploring questions related to people’s motivation to pursue desired goals, the conditions that lead to self-control failure, and the role of anxiety in these processes. Her main line of research is currently focused on how different motivational profiles increase the likelihood of feeling bored and how the experience of boredom can lead to self-control failures. Outside of school, Emily enjoys travelling, cooking and spending time with friends and her cat.
Emilie completed a PhD in Social Psychology at McGill University. She is currently an FRSQC Postdoctoral Fellow. Emilie’s research examines what aspects of social relationships help individuals thrive and become more resilient inside and outside of their relationships. Currently, she is investigating what drives the experience of meaning in interpersonal relationships and how this impacts goal pursuit in everyday life. When she is not working, Emilie enjoys making baked goods, sipping a cup of coffee, doing yoga, and going on long hikes with family and friends.
The 2019/2020 Team
Curiosity about human nature came early to me as the son of a paleontologist and minister. Why are some people and groups more cold-hearted or kinder than others? Why are some people fragile and others resilient? Are there wise ways to live and love? What makes people so sure about their religious beliefs? Can people change? After pondering questions like these during a BSc in Human Biology with a wide variety of philosophy and religion courses on the side, I landed in the “real-world” of pharmaceutical sales. My job was to convince doctors to liberally prescribe our company’s brand of expensive heart and ulcer pills to more of their patients. It paid well but lacked
Candice completed her BSc Honours in Psychology at Acadia University. She is a second-year graduate student in Social Psychology. Candice is broadly interested in how people cope with existential concerns and respond to threat. She is particularly interested in avoidance-oriented responses to threat and the emotional consequences of those responses. Her current work in the lab (with Abdo Elnakouri) examines how self-esteem threats increase distal defenses like the desire for uniqueness. She is also currently working with Jessica Ross to examine reactions to the threat of climate change. Aside from work, Candice enjoys playing sports, going to the beach, and discussing the meaning of life with people.
Jessica completed her B.A. Honours in Psychology at Cape Breton University. She is currently a second-year graduate student in Social Psychology. Broadly, Jessica is interested in many topics including motivation, self-regulation, and emotion. She is particularly interested in how people create hope or meaning in the face of threat and adversity. Her current work in the lab with Ian and Candice Hubley examines reactions to the threat of climate change. Outside of work, Jessica enjoys reading, spending time in nature, and being with friends and family (and her cats).
Some Alumni and Collaborators
Abdo completed his BSc. Honours in Human Kinetics with a minor in Psychology at University of Ottawa. He is a second-year PhD student in social psychology. Broadly, his research is focused on self-regulation, meaning, and ideology. Meaning and ideology can seem like esoteric concepts that are divorced from everyday mundane goal-pursuit. He is interested in understanding how attempts at self-regulation interact with the need for meaning and ideological commitments. For example, how might goals shape beliefs about politics/religion and vice versa? When he's not working, Abdo enjoys traveling, learning, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.