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Queen's University

Tara MacDonald


Associate Professor

B.A.,(Hons.) University of Western Ontario, 1991
Ph.D., University of Waterloo, 1996

T: 613.533.2873

305 Craine

Psychology Department
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6



» Lab Site

Research Interests

I am generally interested in studying situations in which people fail to attend to all of the relevant information in their environment, and the reasons for this neglect. In my primary area of study, I am currently assessing how the restriction of cognitive capacity associated with alcohol intoxication affects the decision to engage in risky behaviors. For example, I have been studying how alcohol affects attitudes and intentions to drink and drive or have sex without a condom. When asked about their intentions to drink and drive, or to have intercourse without a condom, university students typically report that they would not engage in these behaviours. Accordingly, one might expect that the incidence of these health-risk behaviours would be relatively low. Instead, the incidence continues to be alarmingly high. The goal of my research is to examine why people engage in these behaviours that contradict their attitudes and intentions, even when doing so can have powerful negative consequences. Other research interests include attitudinal ambivalence, and the influence of romantic relationship properties on health outcomes.

Selected Publications

 Ebel-Lam, A., Fabrigar, L., MacDonald, T.K., & Jones, S. (in press). Balancing causes and consequences: The proportionality principle in explanations for complex social events. Basic and  Applied Social Psychology.

Fabrigar, L.R., Wegener, D T., & MacDonald, T.K.  (2010).  Distinguishing between prediction and influence: Multiple processes underlying attitude-behavior consistency. In C.R. Agnew, D.E. Carlston, W.G. Graziano, & J.R. Kelly (Eds.), Then a miracle occurs: Focusing on behavior in social psychological theory and research. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Waller, K., & MacDonald, T.K. (2010). Trait Self-Esteem Moderates the Effect of Initiator Status on Emotional and Cognitive Responses to Romantic Relationship Dissolution. Journal of Personality, 78, 1271-1299.

Ebel-Lam, A.P., MacDonald, T.K., Zanna, M.P., & Fong, G.T. (2009). An Experimental Investigation of the Interactive Effects of Alcohol and Sexual Arousal on Intentions to Have Unprotected Sex. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 31, 226-233

MacDonald, T.K., & Hynie, M. (2008). Ambivalence and Unprotected Sex: Failing to Predict Sexual Activity is associated with Decreased Condom Use. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 1092-1107.

Klein, W. M.P., Geaghan, T.R., & MacDonald, T.K. (2007). Unplanned Sexual Activity as a Consequence of Alcohol Use: A Prospective Study of Risk Perceptions and Alcohol Use among College Freshmen. Journal of American College Health, 56, 317-323. 

Hynie, M., MacDonald, T.K., & Marques, S. (2006). Self-conscious emotions and self-regulation in the promotion of condom use. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1059-1071.

Starzyk, K.B., Holden. R.R., Fabrigar, L.R., & MacDonald, T.K. (2006). The Personal Acquaintance Measure: A Tool for Appraising One's Acquaintance with Any Person. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 833-947.

Ditto, P.H., Pizarro, D.A., Epstein, E., Jacobson, J.A., & MacDonald, T. K.  (2006). Motivational Myopia: Visceral Influences on Risk Taking Behavior. Journal of Behavioral Decision-Making, 19, 99-113.

Dal Cin. S., MacDonald, T.K., Fong, G.T., Zanna, M. P., & Elton, T.E. (2006). Remembering the Message: Using a Reminder Cue to Increase Condom Use Following a Safer Sex Intervention. Health Psychology, 25, 448-443.

Fabrigar, L.R., MacDonald, T.K., & Wegener, D T. (2005). The origin and structure of attitudes. In D. Albarracin, B.T. Johnson, & M.P. Zanna (Eds.), Handbook of attitudes and attitude change. (pp. 79-124). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

 Area of Specialty








Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000