top of page

Lab News

Congratulations Dr. Victoria Parker!

Warm congratulations to IMPETuS Lab's Victoria Parker (VP) for successfully defending her dissertation entitled The Power of Dissent: Mitigating False Polarization and Cross-Party Dislike in Online Interactions. VP has long been a role model to many in the lab, and we are proud to see her hard work pay off. In late 2023, VP will begin a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship in the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. 

Image from iOS.jpg

Congratulations Dr. Esther Abel!

The IMPETuS Lab is proud to congratulate Esther Abel on successfully defending her dissertation, Inspirational Bullshit: The Good, the Bad, and the Vaccuuous. Esther has accepted a teaching position at her alma mater, the University of Cape Breton, and continues to develop her research in positive psychology. Congratulations Esther!

Image from iOS (1).jpg

Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Conference 2023

Members of the IMPETuS Lab travelled to Atlanta, GA, for SPSP's annual convention. Doctoral student Andrew Dawson, Honour's alumna Gillian Sherman, and lab manager Marin Taylor each shared their own research in poster sessions while networking with researchers from around the world. 


'Conservatives and Liberals are Wrong About Each Other' - New Op-Ed by Victoria Parker!

Congratulations to Victoria Parker, doctoral candidate in the IMPETuS Lab, who recently authored an op-ed in The Atlantic discussing her research on false polarization in American politics! The focus of Victoria's research is how liberals and conservatives exaggerate each others' views on cultural topics, such as racism and free speech. In her op-ed, entitled 'Conservatives and Liberals Are Wrong About Each Other', she writes about the implicatations of "walking around with an exaggerated mental representation of what other Americans stand for"; namely, dislike for one's opponents, unwillingness to engage with one's opponents, and hesitation to voice extreme views. Read Victoria's op-ed here!

Undergraduate Honours Thesis Poster Conference 2022

Congratulations to IMPETuS Lab members Emma Kehoe and Gillian Sherman, who recently presented their Honours research at the annual Undergraduate Honours Thesis Poster Conference!

Emma presented her poster on censorship and vaccine trust, entitled "What they aren't telling you: The truth about forbidden knowledge & critical thinking", co-supervised by Dr. Anne Wilson and PhD student Victoria Parker. This research investigated the effects of framing information as forbidden knowledge on critical thinking. When a news article about  COVID-19 vaccinne risks was framed as 'forbidden', participants perceived it as more censored than the control irrespective of political orientation, but as expected conservatives also perceived the headline as significantly more censored than liberals. Conservatives also failed a quantitative reasoning test significantly more often than liberals in the forbidden condition, demonstrating that conservatives’ critical thinking about vaccine risks was impeded when they thought they were consuming forbidden knowledge. These findings are particularly important given that critical thinking is essential in the current media environment.

Gillian presented her research on judgements of online situations, entitled "Ghosts of tweets past: Personal growth and judgements of long-past offensive tweets", co-supervised by Dr. Anne Wilson and PhD student Andrew Dawson. In her thesis, Gillian examined how evidence of subsequent personal growth, made either publicly or privately, affected how people weigh a past immoral act in the present. Participants who identitied as Democrats were more critical of a public figure who made an offensive tweet but showed subsequent evidence of personal growth, compared to participants who identified as Republican. Participants also judged the figure less harshly in the present when personal growth was evident than when it was not.

emma poster (2).png
gillian poster (2).png

Congratulations Dr. Erin Shanahan!

Congratulations to Dr. Erin Shanahan who successfully defended her PhD Dissertation entitled "Is it just a dream? How attributions for successful and unsuccessful social mobility attempts maintain the myth of the American dream" in August. She was awarded the Academic Medal of Excellence for her dissertation, as well as the Governor General’s Academic Medal!  Erin has recently accepted a position as Behavioural Science Associate at a market research firm in Toronto, HotSpex.

Congratulations Andrew Dawson!

Congratulations to Andrew Dawson, who successfully defended his Master's thesis in September titled "A Tale of Two Tweets: What Factors Predict Forgiveness of Past Transgressions on Social Media?" and welcome as he begins the PhD program!

Image from iOS (4).jpg
Image from iOS (3).jpg
Image from iOS (5).jpg

2019 WWW Conference 

The 2019 WWW (Waterloo-Western-Wilfred Laurier) Conference is a one-day social psychology mini-conference that takes place every Spring. It involves the social psychology area faculty and graduate students from the University of Waterloo, Western University, and Wilfred Laurier University. The conference gives the opportunity for students to present and share their research, as well as fostering collaboration and community between researchers at the three schools. The conference was hosted at Laurier this year on May 15, 2019, and was organized by the lab’s own Erin Shanahan, Victoria Parker, and Esther Abel, as well as Sarah Wall from the Cavallo Lab. The conference was a huge success and a wonderful day of learning, sharing, and networking!

Image from iOS (7).jpg

IMPETuS lab members at WWW

Image from iOS (10).jpg

Victoria Parker presenting her research

Lazaridis Marketing Research Symposium 2019 

IMPETuS lab member Esther Abel presented her recent work, entitled "Ignorance is Bliss: Examining Predictors of Responses to Inspirational Bullshit" at the 5th Annual Lazaridis School of Business and Economics Marketing Research Symposium on April 26th, 2019.



Esther enjoyed presenting her work for the School of Business, and took home the 1st place Best Poster Prize! Congratulations, Esther!

Image from iOS (9).jpg


The IMPETuS lab is incredibly proud of PhD student, Victoria Parker, for her recent achievements at Laurier's Three Minute Thesis competition which was held on March 27, 2019. Once again this year, Victoria was tasked with presenting a major research study, entitled “Diverging Definitions: The Consequences of Defining "Feminism" Differently” in under three minutes without the use of props or notes. Despite fierce competition, Victoria's presentation dazzled the audience and judges alike, earning her the "Honourable Mention" award for the second year in a row. Congratulations on your incredible work and accomplishments, Victoria! 






To watch Victoria's presentation, press play on the clip above or click here.


Two Honours Thesis students from the IMPETuS lab presented their research at the Laurier Undergraduate Thesis Conference on March 29th, 2019. Congratulations!

Sarah T poster.jpg

Sarah Tchabushnig's project, entitled "Framing Apologies for Historical Injustices" explored how framing an apology can influence support for racial equality among black and white participants. The main effects of framing were not significant. However, she did find a significant main effect of race, such that black participants supported racial equality policies more than white participants. It was also found that white participants were more likely to report thoughts of progress whereas black participants were more likely to report thoughts of work yet to be done. Finally, a significant interaction between time and race revealed that white participants view the past as more unjust and the present as more just than black participants. Ultimately, this contributes to the literature by showing how one’s group membership can result in understanding the past and present differently and the consequences this can have on intergroup understanding.

Sarah and her thesis poster


Vivian Nelson's Undergraduate Thesis project, entitled "A Year in Slow Motion: How People who are Fearful of Being Single Perceive 365 Days" was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Anne Wilson and Ph.D student Sarah Wall. The research sought to investigate the relationship between subjective duration (how quickly or slowly time seems to be passing) and emotional response to a future time spent being single. Taken together, results from this project complement past research which demonstrates that people with higher fears of being single perceive longer subjective duration of time spent being single (which in turn may predict more negative reactions to singlehood). 

Vivian and her thesis poster


Victoria Parker (MA), with Dr. Anne Wilson


Esther Abel (MA, MSc), with Dr. Anne Wilson


Congratulations are in order for IMPETuS lab members Victoria Parker and Esther Abel, who each successfully defended their Masters research in September 2018 and attended Laurier's Fall 2018 Convocation. 

Esther’s work, Boundaries of Fostering Happiness: Implicit Theories of Happiness Predict Reactions to Positive Psychological Interventions, looked at how the individual differences in whether or not people believe happiness is controllable predicts their attitudes towards activities designed to facilitate greater well-being. This in turn predicts the change in positive affect they experience following participation in these positive psychological interventions. 

Victoria's work, The Great and Widening Divide: Political False Polarization and its Consequences, explored interpersonal biases wherein a perceiver believes an opponent's position is much farther away conceptually from where that opponent actually reports their position to be (AKA false polarization). Over three studies, Victoria explored in which instances false polarization occurs, and downstream consequences of falsely perceiving opposing party attitudes.

Both Esther and Victoria are each pursuing their PhD under Dr. Wilson. We are happy to have them continue their academic journey with the IMPETuS lab! 


The IMPETuS lab is proud to recognize recent graduate, Jaslyn English (MA), as she starts an exciting new job as of August 2018. Jaslyn is now working as a User Experience Researcher for the top-rated Dashboard company, Klipfolio. While we miss you in the lab, we know you will be a huge asset to their team! Congratulations!


IMPETuS lab member Esther Abel presented her research findings at the Cape Breton University (CBU) Summer Presentation Series on August 8th, 2018 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Esther quite enjoyed presenting her Masters research at her Alma Mater, as CBU is the institution at which Esther completed her BSc in Psychology! Way to go, Esther!

Image from iOS (2).jpg

Esther presenting her research. August 8th, 2018, Sydney NS.


Congratulations to our recent graduates! Your hard work, dedication, and pure talent has paid off!


IMPETuS lab members Esther Abel and Erin Shanahan both presented research at the annual CPPA conference, held in Toronto, Ontario from May 24-25th, 2018. Both students presented research posters, and Erin also gave an incredible talk. Thank you both for showcasing your research!  

Image from iOS (3).jpg

Erin presenting her poster.

Image from iOS (1).jpg

Esther presenting her poster.

Image from iOS.jpg

Erin giving a presentation.


Congratulations are in order for our Masters candidate Victoria Parker on her recent accomplishments at Laurier's three minute thesis competition. Victoria was tasked with presenting a major research study, entitled “The Great Political Divide: Reality and Illusion?” in under three minutes without the use of props or notes. While the competition was fierce, Victoria's concise and compelling presentation impressed the audience as well as the panel of judges. Victoria was awarded with "Honourable Mention" for her incredible work. Congratulations! 






To watch Victoria's presentation, press play on the clip above or click here.


The IMPETuS lab's own Esther Abel participated in the annual WLU Thesis Poster Conference on March 22nd, 2018.


Esther showcased her research on the relationship between implicit theories of emotion and positive psychological intervention, and did an outstanding job of fielding questions about her work. Bravo, Esther!

Image from iOS (6).jpg



Many students from the IMPETuS lab attended the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) convention, held in Atlanta, GA from March 1-3rd, 2018. Students thoroughly enjoyed presenting research, attending talks and seminars, and making personal connections with other researchers. Here are some photos of our superstars in action:


Check out the portrait project "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" by local artist Sean M Puckett, that features some of the IMPETuS lab members!

bottom of page