Together, the students, faculty, and staff of the Department of Psychology at the University of Manitoba have developed an outstanding learning and research environment. The Department of Psychology at The University of Manitoba intends to maintain and enhance its status as a premier department in the behavioural and social sciences by continuing its excellence in research, teaching, and service. In particular, we will expand on our significant intellectual and practical contributions to the faculty, university, and general community.
Danielle Gaucher is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Social Inequality, Gender and Public Policy. Dr. Gaucher holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She also completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Post Doctoral Fellow at Princeton University. Her research centers on issues of social justice and social change, specifically investigating the social-psychological processes that serve to maintain inequality at the individual and institutional levels. The goal of this program of research is to advance theory and better understand the social-psychological barriers to social change, with the ultimate goal of discovering how to best encourage a wide range of prosocial behaviours and social arrangements. To accomplish these aims, research from this program is psychologically informed, quantitatively grounded, and broadly disseminated. Her work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Dr. Giuliano’s research examines the effects of poverty and other stressful life experiences on brain function in young children and adults, utilizing electroencephalography (EEG) measures and various biomarkers of a person’s physiological responses to psychological stress. His most recent findings suggest that early chaotic environments lead to deficits in a child’s ability to filter out distracting sounds, and that alterations in brain development are driven by early changes in stress physiology. His ongoing work aims to identify physiological and behavioural patterns in children and families resilient to chronic and acute stressors.
Dr. Johnson’s research (and clinical supervision) is relevant to human rights insofar as the basic capacity of an individual to pursue her or his interests, and to freely express his or her beliefs and desires is dependent in part on having the psychological security to do so. Dr. Johnson’s current research on means of alleviating feelings of shame can be seen in this light as helping to establish the psychological conditions needed for people to exercise or assert their rights when they have been blocked by feelings of shame. Insofar as the roots of shame often have their basis in cultural beliefs and practices that are discriminatory, there is a social as well as a personal/clinical dimension to this work.
Dr. Montgomery’s main research and clinical focus is autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). She conducts research, does clinical work with, and advocates for individuals with ASDs and other exceptionalities (disabilities). An underlying theme in her research, advocacy (service), and clinical work is directly related to basic human rights. Individuals with ‘exceptionalities’ (or individuals with disabilities) may be marginalized by societies and systems, particularly when their diverse needs and characteristics are misunderstood by the general public. The stigma of diagnostic labels may be an aspect that impacts an individual’s perception of their own abilities and how others perceive the person and their needs. Individuals who are on the ‘autism spectrum’ often encounter discrimination reflecting misunderstandings about their capabilities that impact their: access to education, basic living conditions, safety, and opportunities to contribute to communities in meaningful ways. Moreover, many individuals (particularly adults) with more subtle impairments may not be able to access appropriate health care, such as assessment and diagnostic services and/or direct therapy, which directly impacts their overall quality of life and well-being. While some individuals are able to advocate for themselves, not all are and so it is critical to ensure these individuals have access to appropriate resources, regardless of their own abilities to self advocate. Dr. Montgomery’s service and research work focuses on increasing public awareness of issues encountered by those with ASDs to facilitate acceptance and inclusion, remove barriers, and increase opportunities for individuals to meaningfully contribute to society.
Dr. Roos studies how early life stress puts children at-risk for altered biological and behavioural development which can influence mental health and achievement inequities. In her intervention research, she investigates how programs promoting parent mental health and positive parenting practices can encourage healthy child development and disrupt the intergenerational transmission of chronic stress. This work is approached from a prevention science framework; supporting families of young children during sensitive periods of rapid development may be particularly helpful for preventing the onset of future challenges.
Dr. Starzyk is a Polish-Canadian associate professor in social and personality psychology and director of the Social Justice Laboratory. She is also a founding member of the Centre for Human Rights Research and a research affiliate of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. She aims to understand how to shift attitudes toward past and present human rights issues. Starzyk is responsible for the Canadian Reconciliation Barometer project, funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant. The goal of the project is to develop a measure of reconciliation that is acceptable to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Starzyk brings to this project her expertise in psychometrics – the science of psychological measurement – and intergroup relations, as well as experience managing large projects. Such a tool is one way to track progress toward reconciliation as Canada works to resolve the serious and varied past and present harms perpetrated against Indigenous peoples.
Dr. Vorauer is a professor in the Department of Psychology.
The research in Dr. Vorauer’s lab focuses on how concerns about evaluation can disrupt intergroup interaction and pose problems for intergroup relations. Dr. Vorauer typically works together with a number of graduate and undergraduate honours students. Their studies involve staging real or ostensible interactions between members of different groups, and examining the factors that affect the quality of these interactions. Although their studies focus primarily on relations between members of different ethnic groups, on a theoretical level their analysis applies to any kind of group membership (e.g., involving sexual orientation, gender, age). The basic idea guiding their work is that individuals’ worries about how they might be viewed by outgroup members can lead them to be disinclined to fully engage in intergroup interaction (which then contributes to subtle discrimination in the form of exclusion from important employment and social settings), or to behave in an inhibited and difficult-to-read manner when they do (which then contributes to miscommunications across group boundaries). Dr. Vorauer and her students have also tried to identify ways of reducing individuals’ concerns about evaluation in intergroup exchanges. Their research suggests that approaches such as increasing empathy may often backfire when applied in actual interaction situations, by virtue of increasing evaluative concerns (when individuals adopt an outgroup member’s perspective they become preoccupied with how they themselves appear). In contrast, rendering intergroup ideologies such as multiculturalism salient may be helpful, by virtue of diverting individuals away from focusing on themselves toward learning about outgroup members.
Most recently, Dr. Vorauer has been examining how popular interventions (e.g., empathy) and intergroup ideologies (e.g., multiculturalism), which are promoted as ways of improving relations between ethnic groups, effect peoples’ psychological sense of power, goal-directed cognition and willingness to speak up about their opinions (i.e., voice). Her research suggests that being empathized with can be disempowering. In contrast, salient multicultural messages seem to enhance ethnic minority group members’ sense of power and voice.