Relevant Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
While links between emotional experiences and health are well-established, extant research is largely based on individuals and cross-sectional data, which is limiting given that emotional experiences are dynamic and interpersonal. In older age, emotional experiences are often maintained or improved relative to earlier life phases, due to adaptive emotion regulation strategies and motivational shifts in priorities. This dissertation aimed to identify socio-emotional pathways underlying health with aging, by taking both spousal perceptions and multiple time-scales into account. This research primarily used data from up to 119 older adult couples, who simultaneously completed 28 momentary assessments of affect and salivary cortisol over a 7-day period, and annual assessments of cardiovascular risk and environmental mastery over three years. Simultaneous assessments in daily life facilitated investigating emotion dynamics in a social context, and were further linked with processes that unfold over different timescales. Study 1 focused on the role of intraindividual affect variability in facilitating empathic accuracy. Older adults more accurately perceived the happiness of their spouse if they themselves were more variable in their happiness, whereas affect variability was unrelated to being read well. Findings replicated in a similar data set of older adult couples. Study 2 examined dyadic covariation in affect and the stress hormone cortisol to illuminate how emotional experiences ‘get under the skin’ in everyday settings. Changes in one’s own affect corresponded with changes in one’s own salivary cortisol. Changes in one’s partner’s affect were only associated with own salivary cortisol if the partner was perceived as having shared their feelings more than usual. Study 3 linked spousal fluctuations in affect with longitudinal physical and mental health indicators. Individual and spousal affect variability were negatively associated with concurrent and long-term health, as indicated by elevated pulse pressure for men and low environmental mastery for women. Spouses sharing their feelings was generally beneficial for health. Taken together, this dissertation identifies key social dynamics in emotional experiences that shape health in older adult couples, pointing to the double-edged nature of spousal interrelations in emotional experiences for levels and changes in health in older adulthood.
For a lot of older adults, the relationship with a significant other is a fundamental social context that structures their daily life and interactions. This research program investigated everyday interpersonal physiological dynamics that may contribute to intertwined health trajectories in old age. In particular, it focused on interconnected fluctuations of the stress hormone cortisol (cortisol synchrony) because dysregulated cortisol secretion has been linked with significant health risks. It utilized three samples of older adult couples (N = 322 couples), who provided multiple salivary cortisol samples and concurrent electronic assessments for a 7-day period, as they went about their daily lives. Study 1 aimed to illuminate daily life situations (proximal contexts) and pertinent individual differences that may be associated with more pronounced cortisol synchrony in older couples. Cortisol synchrony was higher in moments when the partner was present and when individuals reported prior positive socio-emotional partner interactions. Furthermore, greater self-reported perspective taking tended to be linked with greater cortisol synchrony. Building on these findings, Study 2 aimed to better understand long-term risks and benefits of being ‘in sync’. Among wives, higher cortisol synchrony was associated with a stronger increase in relationship satisfaction but also a stronger increase in cardiovascular risk over time, as indexed by non-high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. For husbands, higher cortisol synchrony was not significantly associated with changes in relationship satisfaction or non-HDL cholesterol levels over time, but it was linked with higher initial non-HDL cholesterol levels. Study 3 adopted a macro perspective, taking a step back to examine broader socio-political correlates of cortisol synchrony in older couples. The extent of cortisol synchrony was moderated by macro-context, such that couples living in a German federal state that was placed further right on the left-right political ideological spectrum exhibited greater cortisol synchrony. This line of research emphasizes that older romantic partners are deeply intertwined in daily processes relevant for health. It unpacks key proximal and distal correlates of everyday cortisol synchrony, identifies individual differences relevant to such dynamics, and points to potential adaptive and maladaptive long-term implications of cortisol synchrony for relationship functioning and health.
Solitude (the absence of social interaction, whether in-person or electronic) is a ubiquitous yet understudied experience, often confused with loneliness, but sometimes sought out in daily life. This research program aimed to better understand the negative and positive aspects of solitude, drawing on data from three samples: 50 university students in Vancouver, 100 community-dwelling adults aged 50+ in Vancouver (including 51% East Asian immigrants), and 56 community-dwelling adults aged 50+ in Hong Kong. Participants completed approximately 30 repeated daily life assessments over 10 days on their current thoughts, affect, location, activities, social situation, and desire for solitude. Study 1 used latent profile analysis to identify distinct types of solitude experiences from the everyday thought-affect patterns of younger and middle-aged/older adults in Vancouver, and examined for whom and under what circumstances solitude may have positive or negative connotations. Two distinct types of solitude experiences were identified. Overall desire for solitude and social self-efficacy were associated with positive solitude experiences, and self-rumination and self-reflection with negative solitude experiences. Study 2 specifically examined solitude desire and its location and affective correlates among middle-aged and older adults living in Vancouver. At most occasions, solitude happened by individuals’ own choosing. Older adults were more likely to go to locations that matched their desired social context, and solitude-seeking had less negative affective associations for them as compared to middle-aged adults. East/Southeast Asian participants reported more loneliness than European/North American participants. Study 3 combined two data sets, from Vancouver and Hong Kong, to disentangle the roles of culture, immigration, and acculturation on solitude-loneliness associations among adults aged 50+. Participants high in acculturation to the local (host) culture or who desired solitude at that moment showed no association between being in solitude and feeling lonely. Taken together, these studies show that solitude and loneliness are distinct constructs with different predictors, correlates, and consequences. This research identified key individual difference, life phase, and social contextual factors associated with seeking solitude and thriving during solitude.
Master's Student Supervision
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Objective: This study focuses on the role of spouses in facilitating goal progress during a phase in life when individual resources for goal pursuit are particularly limited. Specifically analyzingthe moderating role of relationship characteristics for time-varying partner involvement–goal progress associations as couples engaged in their everyday lives was examined. The time varying associations between everyday goal progress, effectiveness of partner contributions, and spousal satisfaction with this contribution were also assessed. Methods: Multilevel modellingwas used to analyze data from 118 couples (236 individuals, M age = 70 years, SD= 5.9; 60-87 years, 50% women; 57% White). Both partners reported their personal goals and provided information on relationship satisfaction, conflict, and support. They also provided simultaneous ratings of everyday goal progress, effort, and partner involvement as well as effectiveness of and satisfaction with partner contribution up to three times daily over 7 days. Results: In line with expectations, higher relationship satisfaction and support were associated with higher goal progress when a partner was involved in goal pursuit, whereas higher conflict was associated with less goal progress with the partner involved. Both effectiveness of and satisfaction with partner contributions were positively associated with everyday goal progress. Discussion:Whether partner involvement is beneficial for goal progress depends on characteristics of the relationship as well as what partners actually do in everyday life. This highlights the importance of considering both stable person characteristics as well as time-varying processes to capture the complexity of goal pursuit in older couples.
Spousal support within marriage may be particularly important in old age when spouses become more likely to rely on each other’s help. However, spousal support does not have to be unanimously positive. In fact, very little is known about co-variations in spousal affect and aches as couples engage in their daily routines and environments. Up to 27 simultaneous, momentary assessments from 49 older adult married couples (M age = 72 years (60-83); M relationship duration = 42 years) were used taking into account the perspective of both partners. This research shows that social support within marriage was associated with reduced overall levels of negative affect but unrelated to positive affect. Interestingly, high spousal support was both associated with reduced overall negative affect means but also with an increased co-variation in negative affect between partners. No similar co-variations were observed for aches and positive affect. Spousal support may be a double-edged sword; it is associated with reduced overall negative affect, but it may also lead to more permeable boundaries between spouses that seem to be specific to negative affect.
Objective: Marriage partners exert a special influence on each other’s health and wellbeing, potentially even more so in old age, when social networks shrink and spouses become ever more important resources for dealing with everyday problems. This study complements and extends past research by examining associations between older spouses’ levels of neuroticism, a key trait tied to wellbeing and health, and everyday fluctuations in affect quality, physical symptoms, and responses to everyday problems. Methods: Forty-nine wives and 49 husbands aged 60-83 years (M marriage duration = 42.5 years) first provided independent neuroticism self-report ratings. Spouses then completed up to 27 repeated daily life assessments (time-sampling), during which they simultaneously reported their affect quality, physical health symptoms, and everyday problems 3 times daily for 9 consecutive days on handheld computers. Results: Hierarchical linear modelling results replicate past work by showing negative associations between individual neuroticism and overall affect quality and physical symptoms. Interestingly, spousal neuroticism, in contrast, was positively associated with affect quality and physical symptoms, but only when problems were present. Specifically, having a spouse higher in neuroticism was associated with more favorable problem-affect quality associations and problem-physical symptom associations, even when controlling for marital satisfaction, age, gender, and level of conscientiousness.Conclusions: Findings are discussed in the context of the evolutionary psychology literature and may suggest that spousal neuroticism can serve adaptive functions by increasing vigilance and preparing older couples to deal with everyday problems.
Negative emotions may be an outcome of goal progress. Importantly, negative emotions may also serve as guideposts for subsequent goal regulation by flagging which goals to pursue and which goals to let go. The authors examined this hypothesis using 10-day time-sampling information from 186 adults aged 20-81 years. In line with past work, young adults progressed less on their goals and experienced more negative emotions (anger, sadness) than older adults. Importantly, daily sadness and anger seem to serve different regulatory functions. Specifically, daily sadness was associated with subsequent increases in goal contemplation and end-of-study goal disengagement and goal reengagement whereas anger was not. Findings extend previous research by pointing to the adaptive potential of negative emotions for goal regulation across the adult lifespan.