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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

 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. 

Pauline Leung

Pauline Leung

Pauline is working towards a master's degree in the Clinical Psychology program at Queen's University. Her broad research interests include self-esteem and mental health, as well as the interpersonal factors that may affect them. For her current research, she is delving into the world of social media and examining whether extensive use might have negative consequences on the user—particularly in the realm of romantic relationships. Prior to coming to Queen's, Pauline completed an honours Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour (with a Music Cognition Specialization) at McMaster University.

Racheal Quickert

Rachael Quickert

Rachael is a master’s student in the Social/Personality Psychology program at Queen’s University. She is interested in researching how emotional experience and personality traits interact to influence health and wellbeing within romantic relationships. Currently, Rachael is exploring how attachment orientations correspond with unique emotional experiences over the course of conflict between partners. Rachael completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Queen’s University.



Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000