Natalie Miller

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Social cognitions of children with disruptive behaviors
Faculty of Arts
Charlotte Johnston

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I enjoyed learning about the process of research during my undergraduate course work, however it was not until I began developing my own research project as a summer student that graduate school seemed like a good fit for me. Since that summer I have been hooked on the investigative aspect of research - there is no parallel to the rush of finding support for a hypothesis after several labor-intensive months of collecting data!

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Primarily I decided to study at UBC for the opportunity to work with my supervisor, Dr. Charlotte Johnston. During the orientation weekend I was impressed by the Psychology Department's strong community and the beauty of Vancouver and I have been sold ever since.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best surprise about Vancouver was the ease of using public transit. Having grown up in Calgary, a city where driving is a necessity, it has been eye-opening to experience life without driving every day.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

Children with higher levels of disruptive behavior (e.g. hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression) tend to have difficulties interacting with both family members and peers. I hope that my research will add meaningfully to our growing knowledge of how familial factors might contribute to the difficult peer relationships of these children. Such knowledge will be important in guiding early intervention efforts with such children.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

This award has given me the opportunity to pursue graduate training internationally. For example, this summer I am working with children with attentional problems at a well established and empirically supported summer treatment program in Miami, Florida. Research is about sharing ideas and I am excited by the opportunities that winning a major award has given me to connect with other graduate students and researchers from around the world.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Congratulations! I lived on campus in a graduate residence for my first year, and I would recommend the same for anyone moving to Vancouver to begin graduate school. Graduate residence offered a unique combination of academic and social support. I survived first-year statistics class with the help of our impromptu residence study groups, discovered some of my favourite Vancouver sites, and met some of my best friends while living in graduate residence.


Learn more about Natalie's research

I am interested in how children's experiences within their family may affect their social behavior with peers. Most past research has found that children's social cognitions (i.e. how they interpret and understand social information) about their own and their peers' behavior are important contributors to their social functioning with peers. In particular, children who blame others or perceive others' behavior as a threat, are more likely to respond aggressively in their interactions with peers. The aim of my research is to understand how children's social cognitions about their interactions within the family members might be linked to the peer context, specifically to the difficulties that children have with peers.