The primary focus of research within the Fab Lab is the psychology of attitudes and persuasion. Attitudes are people’s relatively general and enduring positive versus negative evaluations of persons, groups, objects, and concepts in their social world. People form attitudes because these general evaluations allow us to efficiently determine how we should act and what we should think as we go about our daily lives. Attitudes have long been a focus of interest in many domains of social behavior such as politics, consumer choice, and health because they allow us to predict and influence how people act in these social contexts.
Most of the research conducted in our lab relates to one or more of several very basic theoretical questions with respect to the psychology of attitudes and persuasion. First, how do we measure people’s attitudes and the cognitive structural properties underlying these attitudes? Second, how do properties of the underlying cognitive structure of attitudes and features of the social context function either independently or in conjunction with one another to determine the susceptibility of attitudes to persuasion? Third, how do properties of the underlying cognitive structure of attitudes and features of the social context function either independently or in conjunction with one another to determine the manner in which attitudes influence our behaviors, judgments, choices, and preferences?
In a typical year, there are more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate students involved in the Fab Lab. Most of the graduate students are MSc or PhD students who are completing theses under the supervision of Dr. Fabrigar. Other graduate students involved in the lab are supervised by other faculty at Queen’s University, but may be involved in the lab because they are conducting non-thesis related research in collaboration with Dr. Fabrigar.
Undergraduate students have always played a very important role in our lab. Some undergraduate students in the lab are honours thesis students completing theses under the supervision of Dr. Fabrigar. Other undergraduate students involved in lab activities are students completing directed lab courses (PSYC 570/575), students working as paid research assistants, or students working as volunteer research assistants.
Fab Lab graduate students are full collaborators with Dr. Fabrigar on one or more research projects. These graduate students are involved in all phases of the research process for their projects and appear as first author or co-author on articles, book chapters, and presentations that report research originating from their projects. Undergraduate students typically assist in the collection, processing, and analysis of data for projects being conducted in the lab. In some cases, undergraduate students become sufficiently involved in a project that they may be included as co-authors on articles or conference presentations. Many articles and conference presentations originating from our lab have included undergraduate student co-authors.
In a typical year, Fab Lab graduate students and some undergraduate students attend at least one major academic conference where they present their research. The most common conference for us to attend is the annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Other conferences that students have sometimes attended include the annual conferences of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), and the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA).
Approximately every two weeks, members of the Fab Lab and members of the Mac Lab (the lab of Dr. Tara MacDonald) meet as a group. In these MacFab Lab meetings, we have student presentations of research, discuss research being conducted in other labs, or discuss academic and professional issues.
Over the years, our research has received financial support from a number organizations including: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF), Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC), and Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation (NSGF).