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Queen's University


People in the Lab


Tara MacDonald, Phd

My research interests fall into three main categories:

1)  Health Decision-making.  For most of my career, I have been interested in the application of social psychological research to health, particularly the decision whether to use a condom.  When asked about their intentions 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.  I have studied how different factors (e.g., alcohol intoxication, reduced cognitive capacity, sexual arousal, and anticipated negative emotions) affect the decision whether to use a condom.

2)  Romantic Relationships.  I have recently become interested in assessing how attachment anxiety and rejection interact to affect health outcomes.  A number of graduate students and I have assessed how attachment anxiety and rejection interact to affect eating behaviour (with Sandra Marques), condom use behaviour (with Leigh Turner), body image (with Erica Refling) and conflict and decision-making (with Valerie Murphy).

3)  Attitudes.  I am particularly interested in assessing how attitudinal ambivalence affects the stability and malleability of attitudes.  More specifically, I am interested in assessing the different consequences of holding cross-dimension ambivalence (when opposing evaluations occur along different dimensions) and within-dimension ambivalence (when the opposing evaluations occur along the same dimension).

 Graduate Students


Erica Refling

Erica is a doctoral candidate in the Social/Personality Psychology program at Queen’s University. Her research interests involve investigating the factors which influence body image, the consequences of possessing a negative body image, and the ways in which body dissatisfaction can be alleviated. In particular, she is currently examining the interactive effects of romantic attachment style and potential partner rejection on women’s body-esteem. Erica also completed a Master’s degree at Queen’s and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Business at the University of Waterloo.

 Valerie Murphy

Valerie Murphy

Valerie is a doctoral student in the Social/Personality Psychology program at Queen’s University. Valerie is broadly interested in studying attachment processes in adult romantic relationships. For her master's work she studied the interaction between adult attachment and conflict management. More recently, she has  developed an interest in understanding the role of attachment processes in military couples including reactions to separation and reunion due to military deployment. Valerie also completed a Master’s of Science degree from Queen's University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Psychology at the University of Western Ontario. 


Erin Larson

Erin received her B.A.H. from the University of Winnipeg in 2010 and joined the MacLab in 2011 as an M.Sc. student in the Social/Personality Psychology Program at Queen’s. Her research interests include romantic relationships, sex and gender issues, and health. Currently, she is interested in investigating factors that influence the publicizing and concealing of romantic relationships and how sexism impacts heterosexual romantic relationships.



Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000