PhD Students
Dr. Anne Wilson | IMPETuS | Identity Motivation and Perception Extended in Time and Society

I am a PhD student in the Social Psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo, and my Master's degree at Laurier, also under the supervision of Dr. Anne Wilson. My research examines how people's judgments of moral and interpersonal transgressions are shaped by perceptions of time passing, ability to change, and other factors, as well as how those judgments shape social and legal consequences. I am also interested in topics involving subjective time, social justice, stereotyping and prejudice, and political psychology.

Sarah Williams, MA

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I am a PhD student in the Social Psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University. I completed my undergraduate degree at Brock University. I am interested in studying the relationship between, mindsets, motivation, judgement, decision making, and behaviour in the context of individuals hopes and expectations for their future selves. I currently have three main lines of work on this topic. First, I investigate individuals’ beliefs about where life satisfaction comes from and the downstream consequences of these beliefs for motivation, behaviour, and ultimately satisfaction over time. Second, I explore mindsets about exercise that can help individuals persist in the pursuit of their fitness goals in the face of daily temptations, obstacles, and setbacks. Third, I examine the processes by which individuals may maintain their faith in the American Dream, despite being faced with evidence that runs counter to this societal lay belief, with a focus on the antecedents and consequences of these processes.

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Erin Shanahan, BA


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.

Victoria Parker, MA

I am a PhD student 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 messages. I have a keen interest in bridging the gap between academia and the public knowledge and use of psychology.

I completed my BSc. at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia; my MSc. in Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching Psychology at the University of East London in London, England; and my MA in Social Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Esther Abel, MSc, MA

Master's Students

I am an MA student in the Social Psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University, having completed my B.Sc. at Carleton University. My current research is focused on moral judgement, examining how forces within and between groups influence our views on right and wrong. Past work suggests that although people believe their moral principles to reflect something unimpeachable, they have in fact largely been shaped by evolutionary forces favouring cooperation and intergroup competition. Through this lens I examine how we judge each other’s moral standing in the modern world, with group context and partisan bias as contributing factors. I also maintain an avid interest in a variety of topics, including happiness, self-concept, and moral and political psychology more generally.

Andrew Dawson, BSc