Research Labs

Principal Investigator(s): Kingstone, Alan
Lab Address:

First time visitors to the BAR lab often find that their preconception of what a typical research lab looks like needs serious revision. There is not a single white lab coat in sight, rather, the dress code in the lab seems to include tattered jeans. Furthermore, postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate members are just as likely to be playing poker or video games as pouring over data. The overarching purpose of our lab is similar to most labs in that goal is to better understand and predict human cognition and behavior. However, Alan Kingstone, the director of the lab, has taken a somewhat different approach to the study of human cognition. Alan argues that the findings of research done in artificial and deprived environments (e.g. sitting in a testing room in front of a computer screen) by nature do not generalize well to the complex and stimulus-rich real world that we live in. In 2005 he introduced the term “cognitive ethology” to describe his work, which can be roughly summarized as using real world observations to generate research questions that then can be addressed in the lab, and this philosophy has guided our research efforts ever since.
Behavioural Cardiology Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Linden, Wolfgang
Lab Address:

Research conducted in The Behavioral Cardiology Laboratory is based on the firm belief that psychological distress can affect physical health and well-being may buffer against illness. Despite massive research efforts worldwide we still do not know enough about how this connection of emotion and health comes about and how we can change it for the better. Our research broadly focuses on health risk behaviors and emotions and how they affect physiological processes that are relevant for the etiology and treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer. This description risks sounding a bit dry and a listing of the research questions we are pursuing, may be more informative.

The work we do is conducted partly in the well-equipped 5-room Behavioral Cardiology Laboratory here at UBC but it is also based in part at St. Paul’s Hospital (the Provincial Heart Center) and the BC Cancer Agency. We use a variety of methodologies to help answer our questions; these include experimental laboratory studies, clinical trials, hospital-based basic research, program evaluation, and critical analyses of the existing literature.

Centre for Collaborative Research on Hoarding
Principal Investigator(s): Woody, Sheila
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Our research lab studies cognitive, social, emotional, and community aspects of compulsive hoarding.
Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture
Principal Investigator(s): Heine, Steve Henrich, Joseph Norenzayan, Ara
Lab Address:

Our purpose in establishing the Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture (HECC) is to create a research and training hub that will simultaneously advance understanding of the human species within the framework of Darwinian evolutionary theory, and encourage evolutionary scientists to incorporate cultural learning and cultural evolution in explanations of human thought and behavior
Centre for Infant Cognition
Principal Investigator(s): Hamlin, J. Kiley
Lab Address:

At the Centre for Infant Cognition we study infants’ and young toddlers’ everyday cognitions about the world, with a particular focus on social-cognitive and moral-cognitive processing and evaluation in the first two years of life. This developmental approach allows us to (1) examine the roots of these basic processes before more complex cognitive abilities (such as language and inhibitory control) fully develop and prior to extensive cultural influence and (2) track how they change over time.
Child Study Labs
Principal Investigator(s): Cameron, Ann
Lab Address:

The very active student researchers in our Child Study Labs are included in all aspects of the research process, from library searches, through research design, to actual participant interface, data reduction, and analysis, and on to scholarly presentations. Ethical considerations and comportment in the field, and participant rapport building are also part of necessary training. Students are also trained in careful data recording and in many cases, audio- and audio-visual records require time-consuming transcription before analyses can start. All students who make conceptual contributions and who are professionally directed are involved in reporting our findings to the scholarly and local communities.
Clinical & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Brenner, Colleen
Lab Address:

The goal of our research is to understand the symptoms and neurobiological basis of mental illness, specifically schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Our research is focused on the relationships between symptoms of mental disorder and memory, learning, decision making, concentration, and empathy.
Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Christoff, Kalina
Lab Address:

Research in our lab investigates the neural and cognitive mechanisms of human thought and mental functions. We examine goal-directed thought processes such as introspection and self-awareness, as well as spontaneous thought processes such as mind-wandering. We use a combination of functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and behavioural testing. We are also developing novel neuroimaging techniques such as real-time fMRI for clinical applications in psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
Culture and Self Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Heine, Steve
Lab Address:

Our primary research focus is on cultural psychology, exploring the ways in which culture and self mutually constitute each other. We have a very active lab with 7 graduate students and numerous research assistants on the roster (see people page). Also, many of our projects are conducted with collaborators around the world.

Some of our on-going projects include research on the cultural underpinnings of motivation (e.g., self-improvement, face-maintenance, prevention), the self-concept (e.g., self-awareness, self-consistency, ingroup-boundaries), relationships (e.g., attraction, romantic love), psychopathology (e.g., depression), the pursuit of meaning (e.g., terror management theory), cognition (e.g., dialectical thinking). Many of these projects involve cross-cultural comparisons, especially involving Japanese, Canadian, Chilean, and American samples.

Culture, Cognition and Coevolution Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Henrich, Joseph
Lab Address:

Our research program aims to construct a vertically integrated approach to culture and cultural evolution that synthesizes theory and methods from across the sciences, particularly from psychology, economics, biology, and anthropology. Below, we first broadly sketch the theoretical framework that links the various avenues of our work, then highlight certain key aspects of our research program, and finally review past work in setting out our current directions.
Early Development Research Group
Principal Investigator(s): Baron, Andrew Birch, Susan Hall, Geoff Hamlin, J. Kiley Werker, Janet
Lab Address:

The Early Development Research Group consists of a group of researchers in the UBC psychology department dedicated to studying early child development.
Emotion and Self Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Tracy, Jessica
Lab Address:

In the Emotion and Self Lab, we study the process, structure, expression, and regulation of emotions and self. Much of our research is focused on self-conscious emotions (pride, shame, embarrassment, and guilt)—emotions that are intricately entwined with complex self-evaluative processes. But we also study more “basic” level emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, and happiness.

We use a wide range of methods to study emotional processes, including behavioral observation and coding, social-cognitive techniques, cross-cultural comparisons, cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, factor analysis, cluster analysis, and content-coding. In an effort to improve the study of self-conscious emotions, we have developed several measurement tools that are available to other researchers.

Infant Studies Center: Speech and Language Processing
Principal Investigator(s): Werker, Janet
Lab Address:

Our Centre focuses on understanding the first steps in infancy that launch the process of language acquisition.

To address these questions we present infants with different types of language and non-language sound stimuli, often accompanied by pictures, and record their sucking, looking, reaching, or brain activity. We study infants growing up in different language communities, including infants growing up bilingual. We apply our knowledge of typical development to populations of infants at risk for a language delay. This work is all made possible through a dedicated group of researchers, through generous funding, and through the continued support and participation of parents and infants.

Interpersonal Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Alden, Lynn
Lab Address:

Our research focuses on a number of topics related to anxiety and depression. The goal in our current research is to gain a better understanding of the problems and processes associated with several anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. We are also interested in research that will lead to the ongoing development of psychological treatments for anxiety disorders.
K. I. D. Studies Centre
Principal Investigator(s): Birch, Susan
Lab Address:

We are group of researchers in the Psychology Department at UBC where we research Knowledge, Imagination, and Development (i.e. K.I.D.). Our research focuses on a wide-range of topics related to children's and adults' ability to reason about someone else's perspective.
Laboratory of Behavioural Neuroendocrinology
Principal Investigator(s): Galea, Liisa
Lab Address:

My laboratory is interested in how hormones affect brain and behaviour. As anyone who has gone through puberty, menopause or pregnancy can attest, hormones have a profound impact on our mind. We use a variety of tools to answer our questions. We are located in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia in beautiful Vancouver, BC. Our laboratory is associated with the Neuroscience Program at UBC and the Brain Research Centre. Students interested in graduate studies can apply through either Psychology or the Neuroscience Program.
Laboratory of Molecular and Behavioural Neuroscience
Principal Investigator(s): Winstanley, Catharine
Lab Address:

We are interested in exploring the neural, neurochemical and molecular basis of higher-order cognitive processes such as impulse control and gambling. A better understanding of the biological mechanisms underpinning these processes will lead to new and improved treatments for psychiatric disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, personality disorders and drug addiction, all of which are associated with deficits in impulse control.
Language Development Centre
Principal Investigator(s): Hall, Geoff
Lab Address:

One project in the Centre focused on how children distinguish between proper names and common nouns. Learning to make this distinction presents children with a real challenge. Imagine showing your child a new object, such as a toy bear, and offering a new word for it. How does your child know whether your word is a proper name for that particular object (like “Yogi”) or a common noun for the entire object category (like “bear”)? And when do babies first understand the difference between these two types of words?
Learning Enhancement
Principal Investigator(s):
Lab Address:

Memory / Cognition Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Graf, Peter
Lab Address:

The main goal of the Lab is to increase understanding of human memory and related cognitive functions, how these functions vary across individuals, how they change across the adult lifespan, and how those age-related changes affect people's use of moderns computing technologies.
Moral Psychology Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Walker, Larry
Lab Address:

Researchers in the Moral Development Lab focus on aspects of the psychology of moral development, especially moral personality and identity. We are fundamentally interested in exploring the factors that contribute to exemplary moral action.
Neural Circuits and Cognition Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Floresco, Stan
Lab Address:

Research focuses on neural circuits that facilitate different forms of learning and cognition using rodents as a model system.
NeuroImaging Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Handy, Todd
Lab Address:

What leads us to pay attention to some things in the visual world and ignore others? Why might one person walking down an alpine trail be taken in by the wildflowers on the trailside below while another only notices the cliffs and peaks that rise above? Does it depend on a preference for bright versus earthen colors? Botany versus rock climbing? Gazing down versus gazing up?

Attention is literally our window onto the world, and my laboratory’s efforts center on understanding how we use attention to guide our actions in daily life and why these processes may have evolved.

To address these questions we use both ERP and fMRI methodologies, while adopting analytic procedures that allow for examination of individual differences in attentional performance. The overarching goal is to not only increase our knowledge of attentional function, but to develop methods appropriate for diagnosing individual attentional capacities in the clinical domain.

Pain Research Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Craig, Ken
Lab Address:

Pain is the most pervasive and universal form of human distress, yet under-management is a serious problem for individuals, those who care for them, and the public at large. Pain often has adaptive value – it warns of injury or disease and motivates actions preventing or terminating damage. But, in other all too common conditions, it has little functional merit, produces unnecessary suffering, contributes to morbidity, dramatically reduces the quality of life, and adds unnecessarily to health care costs. A massive multidisciplinary assault on the challenges of understanding and controlling pain in the past several decades has led to striking scientific and pain management advances. Nevertheless, too many people continue to suffer from acute, persistent, and recurrent pain that has no apparent benefit. Thus, we have a mission relating to considerable human need and great opportunities to bring the tools of science to advance knowledge.
Parenting Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Johnston, Charlotte
Lab Address:

The research in our lab focuses both on families and parenting. Many of our studies address issues that arise in families with members who have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but other studies are concerned with parent and child relationships in all types of families. Several of our recent studies have examined how parents and children within families think about each other’s behavior, and how these thoughts are related to parenting choices and child outcomes.
Peer Relationships in Childhood Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Mikami, Amori
Lab Address:

Our lab aims to understand why some children have trouble with making friends, keeping friends, and being accepted by their peer group, as well as what the consequences of these peer problems might be. Some of our research focuses on youth with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because this population provides fertile ground to study peer difficulties, while other research concerns how typical kids interact.
Perfectionism and Psychopathology Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Hewitt, Paul
Lab Address:

Dr. Paul L. Hewitt is a professor of psychology and a registered clinical psychologist whose research interest focuses primarily on personality vulnerabilities and their implications for psychological difficulties among adults, adolescents, and children. In particular, he has conducted extensive research on the construct of perfectionism as a maladaptive and multidimensional personality trait and interpersonal style that is related to problems such as suicide, depression, personality disorders, and relationship, achievement, and health problems.

Additionally, he is conducting research on the treatment of perfectionism and provides assessment and treatment for individuals with perfectionism problems and trains clinicians in the treatment of perfectionistic behaviour. He also conducts workshops on the treatment of perfectionism and does public lectures and presentations.

Personality Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Paulhus, Del
Lab Address:

Although the personality constructs of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and subclinical psychopathy originated in different fields of research, there are striking similarities. To varying degrees, all three constructs entail a dark, socially destructive character with behavior tendencies such as grandiosity, emotional coldness, manipulation and aggressiveness. In the clinical literature, the link between narcissism and psychopathy has been noted for some time. The recent development of sub-clinical measures of narcissism and psychopathy has permitted direct comparison of the three dark traits in normal populations. Some researchers have argued that, in non-clinical populations, the three constructs may be one and the same. Most of our research has been conducted college samples at our large, competitive institution, The University of British Columbia.
Personality, Emotion, and Behaviour Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Klonsky, E. David
Lab Address:

The PEBLab examines aspects of emotion and personality that dispose individuals to engage in maladaptive behaviours such as non-suicidal self-injury and suicide. The lab utilizes self-report questionnaires, clinical interviews, and measures of central and autonomic nervous system activity.
Psychoneuroendocrinology Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Gorzalka, Boris
Lab Address:

Our Behavioral Neuroscience research focuses on animal models of human behaviours and disorders. We investigate the influence of monoamines, endocannabinoids, steroid hormones, and stress on anxiety, depression, and sexual functioning.
Social Accuracy Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Biesanz, Jeremy
Lab Address:

Broadly, work in the Social Accuracy Lab examines the process of interpersonal impressions, exploring the impressions we form about the stable and global personality traits of others and the self. Utilizing the Social Accuracy Model (SAM) we are able to explore overall levels and variability in accuracy and bias in impressions, as well as examine various factors that impact these perceptual tendencies.
Social Cognition Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Schaller, Mark
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Our research addresses questions about how people think about other people, and the implications that these cognitions have for social behavior. In a lot of work, we draw on an evolutionary perspective to deduce – and then test – hypotheses about these social psychological processes. In some of our research, we examine additional cultural consequences of these psychological processes.
Social Cognition and Emotion Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Dunn, Elizabeth
Lab Address:

Happiness, self-knowledge, affective forecasting and implicit social cognititon.
Social Cognitive Development Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Baron, Andrew
Lab Address:

The Social Cognitive Development lab explores how children (from infancy through early teenage years) establish preferences for and beliefs about other people. Research involves understanding how preferences for and stereotypes about people are acquired and change across development on both a conscious and an unconscious level of processing.
Social Identity Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Schmader, Toni
Lab Address:

One primary line of research in our lab involves an investigation of variables that play a role in the inhibiting effects of negative group stereotypes on academic test performance.
The Centre for Health and Coping Studies
Principal Investigator(s): DeLongis, Anita
Lab Address:

The Centre for Health and Coping Studies is involved in understanding the psychosocial aspects to adapting to stress.
The Culture and Cognition Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Norenzayan, Ara
Lab Address:

We are interested in examining the mutual interactions between the functioning of individual minds and widely shared beliefs and their material effects, that is, cultures.

Research in the lab spans a wide range of topics, including cultural variability and universality in cognition, the psychological foundations of culture, and religious cognition.

The Forensic Psychology Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Dutton, Don
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Our lab studies a variety of topics relating to the application of psychology within a legal context. From investigations of the abusive personality to intimate partner violence, and cognitive dissonance in family conflicts, lab members work together to further the knowledge in the field of forensic psychology.
The Health and Adult Development Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Hoppmann, Christiane
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In the Health and Adult Development Lab we conduct research that examines the influences of social relationships and motivational processes for wellbeing and health across the adult lifespan. Current projects focus on the role of goals and motivational processes for adaptive functioning in daily life (emotion regulation; stress; health behaviors). In addition, we examine how health trajectories influence and are influenced by close others such as spouses. Overall, the long-term goal of our research is to better understand the social and motivational resources that contribute to the successful mastery of challenges and foster healthy functioning in different phases of the lifespan.
The Psychophysics and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Ward, Lawrence
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At the Psychophysics and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, we use a multitude of research paradigms to ellucidate basic brain mechanisms and cognitive processes. We currently have several research studies underway examining Neural Synchrony, Stochastic Resonance, Visual and Auditory Attention, Mismatch Negativity and Stimulus Independent Thought. Please see the research section for more information.
UBC Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory
Principal Investigator(s): Gorzalka, Boris
Lab Address:

Our Clinical Psychology research focuses on various aspects of human sexuality, including sexual dysfunctions, asexuality, and sexual paraphilias. We investigate how these aspects are influenced by factors such as culture, attachment, and the endocrine and nervous systems.
Vision Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Enns, James T.
Lab Address:

Study how the human mind selects information. This selectivity is what is meant by attention, which involves a dynamic interplay among biological (neural), experiential (learning), and intentional (goals) factors.
Visual Cognition Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Rensink, Ron
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The goal of the UBC Visual Cognition Lab is to investigate visual intelligence - the way in which the human visual system uses the light entering the eyes to create a variety of perceptual experiences. We are interested both in exploring the mechanisms that carry this out, and the ways in which this knowledge can help with the design of effective visual displays.
Visual Neuroscience Lab
Principal Investigator(s): Giaschi, Deborah
Lab Address:

Principal Investigator(s): Rankin, Cathy
Lab Address:

Research in our laboratory in focused on behavioural, cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in learning and memory. We are currently using an invertebrate preparation, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, to examine both non-associative and associative forms of learning.
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