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Social cognition and individual differences

Exploring gender, death, your genes, religion and sexuality
Our lab has a diversity of research interests. Some of these interests overlap at times but these topics broadly cover our experimental focus.

Our research

Genetic essentialism

Genetic research has been thriving in the last few decades, but we still know little about the effect of learning about the involvement of genes in our abilities, behaviours, and health. In other words- how are we affected by learning that we have an “obesity gene,” a “breast cancer gene,” or “Jewish genetic markers?” Thus, one of our lab’s research foci is the affective, cognitive, and behavioural effects of perceived genetic aetiology, a subject we’ve addressed in publications in top tier journals such as Science, Psychological Bulletin, and Behavioural and Brain Sciences among others. It seems like virtually all scientists agree that almost all complex human behaviours are a product of interactions between genes and environment. However, there is shockingly little empirical relevant research. As such, an additional, related focus on such interactions and cognitive function and Alzheimer’s among older adults emerged in our work.


Sex and sexuality have fascinated people throughout the ages. Ample literary works, theological and moral musings, philosophical accounts, social discourse, and popular presentations of various aspects of different aspects of their related behaviour and their underlying meaning have been depicted and communicated for a wide variety of purposes. People’s curiosity about sex seems to know no bounds. Our lab is engaged in exploring some empirical and theoretical questions in that realm.

What is the origin of our sexual orientation- is it determined by birth or changes with societal interactions? This interesting question is one that most people have an opinion on. How do those opinions and beliefs shape psychological outcomes such as stigma consciousness and internalized homonegativity among Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay individuals? How do they relate to these individuals’ psychological wellbeing? How does the choice of one’s sexual orientation label (e.g., “gay”, “pansexual”, “queer”) relate to their attraction to other people? How does it relate to their depressive symptomology? How do people evaluate individuals in consensual non-monogamous relationships?  Do such evaluations relate to people’s characteristics? These questions are some of the questions being studied in our lab. However, they represent only a small segment of fascinating research questions on the psychological aspects of our sexuality.

Existential psychology

Death has fascinated scholars and laypeople alike. Recent research with a strong empirical component suggests that reminders of death leads people to defend their worldview and beliefs more strongly and show a variety of outcomes from increased aggression to increased benevolence. Our lab investigated a few related outcomes, and is currently focused on the role that existential concern has in clinical populations.

Gender psychology

Gender seems to be one of the most fundamental social categories ever constructed by people. It is hard to “not see gender,” and the role of our tendency to look at the world through the lens of ‘gendered vision’ is central to psychology and overlaps with multiple foci in our empirical and theoretical work. Questions regarding the perception of gender as binary, the effects of essentializing gender, the evolution of power and prestige as correlates of gender, and gender intersectionality are thriving areas of research in the lab.

Other areas of interest

In addition to these main foci, our lab maintains active research interests in questions related to individual differences and personality (e.g., what is coolness and who has more of it?), consumer behaviour (e.g., who benefits and who loses from facing more choices?), as well as religion and spirituality (e.g., distinguishing between religiosity and spirituality).

Our people



  • Iana Wong, Masters graduate
  • Liam Dacosta, Honours graduate
  • Monica Trezise, Honours graduate
  • Christine Wong, Honours graduate
  • Jess Strudwick, Talented Student Program project graduate

Group director

Ilan Dar-Nimrod

Senior Lecturer
  • Room 420 Brennan MacCallum A18