Research

Research at SPRQL falls into three domains: social psychology, psychophysiology, and quantitative methods. Lab projects either cut across 2 or 3 domains or can be focused within one domain.

Research Questions

The primary question that drives research in SPRQL is how social interactions with friends and strangers affect our attitudes and behaviour towards people who are different than us as well as personal health and achievement. The ultimate goal of this research is to understand successful diverse societies: how can people with different backgrounds and perspectives work together to build communities where everyone has a chance to thrive? The research of Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould and her trainees takes a multi-method approach to answer these complex questions, frequently combining self-report surveys, physiological measurement, and behavioural observation within the same study. We combine these methods to capture a rich picture of the nuanced and complex social world in which we live.

In addition to this primary research question, Dr. Page-Gould also conducts basic psychophysiological and quantitative methods research, such as (a) exploring the unclear relationship between stress hormones and subjective stress and (b) developing methods for harnessing the full power of linear models for point estimation and prediction.

Facilities and Funding

SPRQL has been designed from the ground-up to support multi-person physiological measurement. The lab includes 5 physiological testing rooms with moveable walls that allow participants to have private baselines before interacting with between 1 to 3 other people. In addition to office space for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and a Lab Manager, the SPRQL facilities include a computer testing room, an executive control room, and a room for post-processing physiological and video data. The lab is fully equipped for neuroendocrine collection and autonomic nervous system recording, with the ability to record various types of data from between 2 to 12 people simultaneously. All lab infrastructure and equipment has been jointly funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Connaught Laboratories Fund, the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Toronto.

Scientific Training

Students who conduct research in SPRQL receive advanced training in basic social psychological paradigms (e.g., dyadic paradigms, longitudinal diary research, social cognitive computer studies), psychophysiological theory and recording (e.g., cardiopulmonary, electrodermal, and neuroendocrine responses), and advanced statistical training (e.g., multilevel modelling, Bayesian hypothesis testing, meta-analysis, esoteric aspects of linear modelling). SPRQL graduate students and post-docs attend a breakfast lab meeting every other week during the academic year in addition to being expected to attend departmental and social/personal colloquia. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are personally trained by Dr. Page-Gould in the lab’s advanced forms of data collection and statistical methods in addition to training in the profession of science. Undergraduate researchers at SPRQL develop advanced data collection skills spanning social and psychophysiological methods that will make them attractive candidates for graduate school in experimental psychology.