Research Projects

Current Research

Psychological Supplements for Suboptimal Social Support

This research program is examining to what extent individuals can protect themselves from the negative effects of poor relationships. According to the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) an individual thrives when his or her fundamental needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy are met by his or her social environment. When an individual is not given opportunities to meet his or her needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy, his or her motivation, performance and well-being suffers. The current program intends to identify and test potential buffering psychological factors that may help individuals maintain their motivation, performance and well-being in social environments that they experience as controlling. Some buffering factors proposed are self-compassion, mindfulness and supportive peripheral relationships.

Self-Determination and the Influence of Social Climate on Transformational Leadership

This study draws from Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to test the impact of basic needs support on leadership self-efficacy and the emergence of transformational leadership behaviours in university students. Students were invited to complete a group task where the social climate was manipulated and their transformational leadership behaviours were evaluated by their peers. Preliminary results suggest that different social climates can influence leadership self-efficacy. Additional studies will explore the potential role of social climate on leadership development in young adults.

Self-Determination and Appraisals of Psychological Stress in the Laboratory

This study is based on the Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2002), a well- grounded theory concerned with human motivation and our natural tendencies. The theory indicates that being self-determined is associated with lower levels of anxiety (Vallerand, 1997). Yet, this association may be influenced by individual cognitive appraisals of challenge rather than the notion that a self-determined orientation fosters a more adaptive plan of action for dealing with stress. However, this has yet to be established; that is, whether more self-determined individuals actually appraise, perceive, and react to stressful situations differently compared to non-self-determined individuals. Therefore the purpose of this research program is to investigate the variability in various levels of self-determination and explore how these levels interact with an individual’s coping strategy, appraisal, perception and reaction to psychologically stressful situations.

Leadership Styles and Their Impact on Leadership Development Skills in Equestrian Athletes

This study aims to better understand the factors that are most influential in the performance and development of equestrian athletes. The project is important for two main reasons. First, more information regarding the development and training of equestrian athletes is needed because at this time it is overlooked compared to other sports. Second, this project has received financial support from the University of Ottawa and is endorsed by Equine Canada, thus providing opportunities to study the athletes and the sport using a long-term approach. The goal will be to take a closer look at, for instance, events, personal characteristics, coaching and leadership approaches as well as life and career turning points in order to gain insights on athlete development and performance.

The Effects of Diverse Media Content on Viewer’s Motivation and Performance: A Self-Determination Perspective

This research program applies the Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985) because it offers a general perspective for understanding motivation at the emotional, cognitive and behavioural level. SDT also provides a framework for understanding individual differences and notes that motivational orientation (i.e., internal vs. external) plays a considerable role in the mental processes that occur when placed in a variety of situations. SDT suggests that reactions and responses from media content will vary from one individual to another. For instance, individuals reporting a less self-determined orientation (amotivation or controlled motivation) may be more susceptible to external forces and in turn be less critical of the message being ‘sent’. On the other hand, individuals reporting a self-determined orientation (autonomous motivation) will also be affected by external influences but will proceed to a more critical analysis of the content. This study observes the motivational, emotional and cognitive processes taking place while exposed to diverse media content and tests the moderating role of general motivation when exposed to different kinds of media content.

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