Western University PsychologyFaculty of Social Science

Social Program Requirements

The Social Psychology Area at The University of Western Ontario is oriented toward training graduate students in how to conduct high-quality empirical research. This research training concentrates on the psychological theories, principles, and research methods relevant to understanding the behaviour of individuals and groups in social contexts. At the present time, research in the Social Psychology Area is focusing on three major themes:

(a) Close Relationships, Health Behaviours and Sexual Behaviour, which includes research on evolutionary foundations of mate selection (Campbell); interpersonal perception and behaviour in relationships (Campbell); romantic relationships and attachment (Campbell); sexual behaviour (Fisher); and the social psychology of health behaviour(Fisher).

(b) Intergroup Relations and Social Justice, which includes research on dehumanization (Esses); ethnic relations (Esses); group competition and conflict (Esses); immigration (Esses); moral judgment (Olson); prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (Esses); reactions to stigmatization and threatened social identities (Esses, Norman); social justice (Olson); and values (Esses, Olson).

(c) Attitudes and Social Cognition which includes research on attitudes (Fisher, Olson); cognitive consistency (Olson); counterfactual thinking (Olson); and person perception (Campbell).

Enrolling in graduate studies in social psychology at Western means being part of a research-intensive, supportive, and cooperative research group. The Social Psychology Area currently consists of five core faculty members, a sixth affiliated faculty member with research interests related to social psychology, and roughly 15-20 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. We are proud of having one of the best-equipped social psychology laboratory in the world, which includes multiple testing rooms for different purposes with state-of-the-art computing and audiovisual technology.

Our primary goal is to train graduate students to become excellent researchers who, upon graduation, will obtain highly desirable positions in academic and nonacademic settings in which psychological research skills are required. This research training mainly follows an apprenticeship model in which students develop strong skills in conducting high-quality empirical research, conceptual thinking, and scientific writing. In addition to the research conducted with their primary supervisor, students are encouraged to collaborate with at least one other faculty member during their graduate training to enable broad training in a variety of methodological approaches and research issues. Our students are also encouraged to take the initiative in planning and conducting their own research and to collaborate with fellow graduate students.

For students who are interested in pursuing their graduate studies in social psychology at Western, the departmental website includes helpful information about admission requirements, application procedures, scholarships and funding, and housing information.