Social, Personality and Developmental Psychology

The Social, Personality and Developmental Psychology Cluster at Western University combine research excellence in three areas of psychology.

The SPDP Cluster is investigating the behaviour of individuals and groups in social contexts. At the present time, research is focusing on five main themes:

(a) Close Relationships, Health Behaviours and Sexual Behaviour, which includes research on evolutionary foundations of mate selection (Campbell, Heerey); interpersonal perception and behaviour in relationships (BensonCampbell, Heerey); romantic relationships and attachment (Campbell, Joel); decision making in romantic relationships (Joel); models of dyadic data (Sakaluk); relationship and sexual norms (Sakaluk); sexual behaviour and identieis (Fisher, Sakaluk); eating and exercise behaviour (Calogero); and the social psychology of health behaviour (Calogero, Fisher, Sakaluk).

(b) Intergroup Relations and Social Justice, which includes research on dehumanization (Esses); objectification (Calogero); ethnic relations (Esses); group competition and conflict (Benson, Esses, Heerey); immigration (Esses); moral judgment (Olson); prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (Calogero, Esses); reactions to stigmatization and threatened social identities (Calogero, Esses); social justice (Calogero, Olson); values (Esses, Olson) and group-based constructions of psychological concepts (Sakaluk).

(c) Attitudes, Social Cognition and Social Interaction which includes research on attitudes (Esses, Fisher, Olson); cognitive consistency (Olson); counterfactual thinking (Olson); leadership and followership (Benson); motivated social cognition (Calogero); self-perception (Calogero); person perception (Campbell); social decision making (Heerey); and face-to-face social behaviour (Benson, Heerey); and team dynamics (Benson)

(d) Personality Psychology, which focuses on the theory and measurement of individual differences in personality including basic traits (Schermer) and more specific phenomena such as emotional intelligence, the Dark Triad/Tetrad (Schermer) and perfectionism (Saklofske); competition and dominance related individual differences (e.g., RWA,SDO); early emerging individual differences and their implications for development (Hayden); individual differences and team composition (Benson); open-and closed-mindedness (Calogero, Schermer); loneliness (Schermer); vocational interests (Schermer), and quantitative methods including structural equation and multilevel modeling, latent profile analysis, item response theory, and longitudinal methods (Benson, Tremblay, Sakaluk, Hayden).

(e) Social Development, which focuses on peer relationships, including friendship and peer-group contexts (Zarbatany); processes that contribute to social behavioural change including resource control, risk taking, gender differences and adjustment issues (Zarbatany); and bullying, teasing and social rejection (Calogero, Heerey, Zarbatany).

Faculty in this cluster include: Dr. Alex Benson, Dr. Rachel Calogero, Dr. Lorne Campbell, Dr. Victoria M. Esses, Dr. Elizabeth Hayden, Dr. Erin Heerey, Dr. Samantha Joel, Dr. John Sakaluk, Dr. Julie Aitken Schermer, Dr. Paul Tremblay

Social, Personality and Developmental Psychology Program Requirements

Want to meet the labs? If you’d like to hear a bit more about our current research, listen as we introduce ourselves.