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PhD Students

Victoria Parker, MA

I am a Wilfrid Laurier University Honours Psychology graduate, and a first year PhD Student in Social Psychology. The recent election of Donald Trump as POTUS, and the ensuing political unrest inspired a shift in my research interests from happiness, to affective and ideological polarization. Observing the political discourse across a myriad of news outlets raised important questions, the primary one being “Are liberals and conservatives as snowflakey and bigoted as the other side seems to think?” My research aims to find out. Having recently defended my Master’s thesis on the subject, I will be spending my time in graduate school building on this knowledge, and attempting to disseminate the findings to partisans everywhere.

Esther Abel, MSc, MA

Esther Abel is a PhD candidate in Social Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, currently focusing on the individual differences in attitudes and opinions people have regarding happiness and well-being in different contexts. Including for example, researching positive psychological interventions and how people react to positive “bullshit” or the pseudo-inspirational positive messaging popular on social media and in self-help. Esther has a keen interest in bridging the gap between academia and the public knowledge and use of positive psychology.


Esther completed her BSc. in Psychology at Cape Breton University in her hometown Sydney, Nova Scotia. She then went on to complete her MSc. in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology at the University of East London in London, England, and her MA in Social Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. She will complete her PhD in Social Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in early 2023.

Click here to view Esther's CV.


Andrew Dawson, BSc, MA

I am a PhD student in the Social Psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University, having completed my BSc at Carleton University and my MA at Laurier in the IMPETuS lab.


My research interests generally fall into the categories of political and moral psychology. Recently I have been investigating the factors behind judgement and forgiveness in the context of social media, particularly in how people respond to offensive actions and statements that have resurfaced. Although people do appear to take a number of factors into consideration, such as the passage of time and age of the offender, partisan loyalties will often drive diverging judgments and altered perceptions of the issue at hand. Much of my other work as well falls along the lines of partisan conflict and competing moral values, investigating which views are held most dearly and what that means for group behaviour.

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Melih Can Sahin, BSc, MSc

I am a first-year graduate student in the Social Psychology Ph.D. Program at Laurier. I joined the IMPETuS lab after completing my BSc in Psychology Program and MSc in Political Science and International Relations Program at the Middle East Technical University, Turkey.


My primary research interests revolve around understanding how collective identities and concerns (e.g., political beliefs and group identities) shape people's socio-political attitudes and behaviors. For example, in my master's thesis research, I investigated different types of existential threats to social identities and their effects on trust in the government. My recent research interests include exploring the mechanisms that serve people to regulate their group-level identities in the face of social identity threats. I love petting my cat and cooking while I think about these issues

Masters Students

Claire Jordan, BA

I am a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s BA program, majoring in Honours Psychology. This is my first year at Laurier as a master’s student! In my undergrad, I wrote my Honours thesis on the role of goal failure in temporal self-appraisal theory, which posits that people will position events subjectively in time in relation to their current self. As a graduate student, I hope to investigate the role this theory plays on autobiographical narratives and how people revise their life story overtime. 

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