Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
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.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.
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.
Trust is vital for success in all kinds of social interactions. But how do people decide whether an individual can be trusted? The social class of the individual in question may be one important cue to trusting that they will behave in a moral and competent manner. We propose three mechanisms through which a person’s social class may influence how much we trust their morality and competence: Explicit dispositional stereotypes, explicit beliefs about situations, and implicit associations. We investigated this in two ways, with two opposing sets of findings. In Chapter Two, participants who played an economic game involving trust in morality trusted lower-class game partners more than higher-class partners. This was partially explained by people’s explicit stereotypes of lower-class people as more dispositionally moral than higher-class people. They also believed lower-class partners would be more tempted by their financial situation to betray them, but this did not predict trust. In Chapter Three, however, participants made repeated choices as to who they would trust in hypothetical scenarios involving trust in morality and in competence. Here, participants tended to trust higher-class partners in both morality and competence scenarios. We ran six additional studies testing potential explanations for the difference in results between Chapter Two and Three, finding some hints but no conclusive evidence. Finally, we considered whether implicit stereotypes might help to explain this difference. Across seven studies we developed a novel task to measure implicit associations with social class. Despite often reporting explicit stereotypes of lower- (vs. higher-) class people having more moral dispositions, people implicitly associated low social class with low morality. Both implicit and explicit morality stereotypes predicted decisions in the morality trust scenarios. We discuss additional possible resolutions to the discrepancy in results, as well as implications of our findings for understanding trust, social class stereotypes, and inequality.
Worldwide, support for democracy’s principles has risen in the past half century. Yet democratic citizens do little to reverse global democratic backslides, even cheering on populist leaders who threaten institutions in place to protect them. I ask for whom democracy is a priority; who is disturbed by democratic backslides, and in any what contexts might they actually approve of this troubling trend? Chapters 2 and 3 uncover ideologically-linked dispositions and contexts explaining people’s reactions to democracy’s decline. Pre-registered laboratory experiments combined with analyses of World Values Survey data indicate that overall, liberals are more distressed than conservatives by low democracy. At the same time, the political context matters: This pattern emerges most strongly when the ruling party is conservative and disappears (though it does not flip into its mirror image) when the ruling party is liberal. The results from these chapters contribute to ongoing debates over ideological symmetry and asymmetry. Going beyond ideology, Chapter 4 identifies a broader set of stable dispositions associated with support for democracy. Moreover, similar to Chapter 3, it finds contexts where those associations weaken or disappear. Three pre-registered experiments reveal that those valuing equality are more supportive of democracy’s principles, and authoritarians and elitists are less supportive. At the same time, when it comes to supporting democracy in practice at the expense of other valued goals, these dispositions show only weak associations. Together, these findings suggest possible discrepancies between self-proclaimed values and actual behavior. Chapter 4 also explores potential differences in people’s feelings towards democracy’s multiple facets; civil liberties, the rule of law, and formal democratic procedures. My results contribute to ongoing research of support for democracy during its period of decline, suggesting that, if democracy is worth protecting, not everyone, in all contexts, will feel the urgency.
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.
In a first conversation with a stranger, people choose what information they want to seek from others and reveal about themselves. How do they make these choices with political information? One guiding factor might be how much political identity represents the true self, who someone really is. The true self has moral content, and because peoples’ political identity unveils their moral worldview, people might use political identity to understand others’ true self. A first between-subjects study (N = 187, 1122 observations) found that people thought political identities, compared to other identities (e.g., religion, occupation, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity), was the most representative of the true self. Study 2 (N = 217, 868 observations) replicated Study 1’s findings using a relationship app context: people chose to both seek others’ politics and reveal their own politics more on the app when they prioritized the true self (vs. superficial self). Study 3 (N = 111, 1539 observations) found that people preferred to seek others’ politics (to know others’ true self) more than reveal their own politics (to not reveal their own true self) in a first conversation. Study 4 (N = 592 participants, 5920 observations) established that the true self is the mechanism underlying the asymmetrical political information exchange in first encounters—when people see a true self prompt (vs. a superficial self prompt vs. no-prompt) on a relationship app, they reveal more political information. We discuss implications and future directions.
Why do people choose their beliefs? Research on this question has been dominated by a Traditional Monist Perspective, assuming that people think reasoning must always be in service of producing unbiased, evidence-based beliefs, embodying Epistemic Value. But recent research hints at the possibility that this may be an unwarranted assumption. People knowingly hold incorrect beliefs (Walco & Risen, 2017), prescribe morally motivated reasoning to others (Cusimano & Lombrozo, 2020), and report not caring that much about Epistemic Value when directly asked (Ståhl, Zaal, & Skitka, 2016; Pennycook, Cheyne, Koehler, & Fugelsang, 2019). Extending this work, I propose a New Pluralist Perspective, arguing that people find it worthwhile to believe in service of non-epistemic goals, embodying other values. Based on a review of the motivated reasoning literature, I propose a non-exhaustive list of three non-epistemic values about believing that people could explicitly endorse: (1) Emotional Value (that beliefs can be valuable by supporting positive emotions), (2) Moral Value (that beliefs can be valuable by supporting a moral agenda), and (3) Affiliative Value (that beliefs can be valuable by supporting meaningful affiliations). In Study 1 (n=456), I develop a self-report scale, the Values about Belief Scale (VBS), to measure endorsement of these values. In Study 2 (n=207), I assess the convergent validity of the Emotional Value subscale, and its relationship with emotionally motivated beliefs. In Study 3 (n=449), I explore how Emotional Value predicts palliative beliefs about the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in Study 4 (n=200) I explore how the non-epistemic values predict a classic case of motivate reasoning in action: system justification. Results generally support the New Pluralist Perspective over the Traditional Monist Perspective. I discuss the implications of the New Pluralist Perspective for the study of belief regulation.
Over the past two decades, growing political polarization has led to increasing calls for people to seek out and try to understand opposing political views. Although seeking out opposing views is objectively desirable behavior, do we find it socially desirable when people who agree with us nonetheless seek out views that we oppose? We find that observers strongly prefer individuals who seek out, rather than avoid, political views that the observer opposes. Across nine online studies we find a large preference for these political perspective-seekers, and in a lab study, 73% of participants chose to interact with a perspective-seeking confederate. This preference is weakly moderated by the direction of participants’ ideology and the strength of their beliefs. Moreover, it is robust regardless of why the individual seeks or avoids opposing views, and emerges even when the perspective-seeker is undecided and not already committed to participants’ own views. However, the preference disappears when a perspective-seeker attends only to the perspective that observers disagree with, disregarding the observer’s side. These findings suggest that, despite growing polarization, people still think it is important to understand and tolerate political opponents. This work also informs future interventions, which could leverage social pressures to promote political perspective-seeking and combat selective-exposure, thus improving political relations.
How might a person’s socioeconomic status (SES) affect how she thinks others see her (her meta-perceptions)? One possibility is that people derive their meta-perceptions from cultural stereotypes: That is, low SES people may expect others to see them as warmer, but less competent, than those with high SES. However, low SES people tend to see themselves more negatively and have more negative expectations for how they will present themselves than those with high SES. Thus, another possibility is that low SES people expect others to see them as both colder and less competent than those with high SES. Seven studies, three of them pre-registered, supported the latter possibility: Low SES people thought they would be seen more negatively in terms of both warmth and competence, compared to those with high SES. This occurred in hypothetical interactions (Study 1A-1B), live in-lab interactions (Study 2), and online chat conversations (Study 3A-4B), and was mediated by lower-SES people’s more negative self-views and expectations for self-presentation (Study 1B). However, these expectations were not accurate: Low SES people were not seen differently by others, and if anything were worse at guessing how others saw them (Study 2 but not Study 4A-4B). Moreover, low SES people were more likely than high SES people to believe that negative feedback they received in both warmth (Study 3A-3B) and competence (Study 4A-4B) domains was their own fault; this was related to their more negative meta-perceptions. This thesis uncovers a novel way in which SES affects how people think about interpersonal interactions, and highlights the consequences for attributions for negative feedback and potentially, inequality.