Gordon Pennycook has been named a Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
1We can barely look at our phones, turn on our TVs, or listen to our radios without hearing about fake news. It seems that disinformation is everywhere, all the time.
Thankfully, Gordon Pennycook, a leading researcher in the psychology of disinformation, reasoning, and decision-making, is helping us get a handle on what’s true and what’s false.
His research has helped reveal the underlying mechanisms of human reasoning, changing the way many psychologists think about thinking, and has showed the many ways that analytic thinking impacts our everyday lives. His most recent work leverages these insights to help people both understand and combat disinformation.
An assistant professor of behavioural science in the U of R’s Hill and Levene Schools of Business, some of Pennycook’s earliest research focused on understanding a key component of human reasoning: what are the factors that trigger people to think in a more analytic and reflective way, as opposed to relying on intuitions and gut feelings?
A common assumption in the field was that when people felt internal conflict, it was often between their intuitive gut feelings and more reflective and reasoned thoughts. Pennycook instead argued that conflict between intuitions is what actually triggers reflective thinking. Culminating in a 2015 paper in the journal Cognitive Psychology, Pennycook and his co-authors proposed a new model of analytic thinking, a theoretical approach that has been widely adopted in the field.
For this timely and important work, Pennycook has been named a Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.
2Marie-Eve Bradette is the University’s newest Banting Postdoctoral Fellow.
“My postdoctoral research will explore the violence inflicted on Indigenous cultures, bodies, minds, and spirits in residential schools, with a focus on the gendered violence endured by Indigenous women and girls,” says Bradette, a settler scholar working with the U of R’s Michelle Coupal, Canada Research Chair in Truth, Reconciliation, and Indigenous Literatures.
Bradette says that since the 1900s, and with a resurgence since the 1970s, Indigenous women have narrated their residential school experiences through autobiographies, novels, drama, and poetry.
“Women’s residential school literature occupies a unique but under-researched field of Indigenous literatures,” explains Bradette. “I intend to addresses this gap in scholarship while reclaiming, redressing, and reconstructing agency, which was often denied to Indigenous women and girls during their time in Indian residential schools.”
A Francophone scholar, she also hopes to do the crucial work of translating residential school narratives into French, which has only been done for a limited number of texts.
Bradette’s fellowship is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and totals $70,000 per year for two years. Her fellowship began in the fall 2020 term.
3 The University of Regina welcomes Andres De Los Reyes, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, as the University's 2020-21 Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Mental Health.
More than nine per cent of youth living in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are dispensed at least one medication intended to treat a mood or anxiety disorder.
Yet, De Los Reyes says, there are many discrepancies in how diagnostic data and treatment assessments are interpreted.
For example, a teacher might see disruptive behaviour in a child which their parents do not see, and a parent may report a child showing levels of hyperactive behaviour which other people may not observe.
“Understanding these discrepancies is a key issue in the delivery of mental healthcare services,” says De Los Reyes, who, for close to two decades, has worked to figure out how to use discrepancies as a tool for understanding where to target treatment services and monitor treatment progress.
4 In November, U of R psychology professor R. Nicholas Carleton was named the 2020 winner of the Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research.
The Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding rising star researcher in the field of mental health to recognize, encourage, and support them as they pursue their research interests and goals. The award is worth $100,000.
Carleton, who has demonstrated excellence in research as well as the ability to work collaboratively with his peers and research teams in other disciplines and institutions both within the University of Regina and across Canada, is also the scientific director of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT).
“My team and I have been working hard to provide the public safety sector with the research needed to improve the mental health of public safety personnel,” says Carleton. “This award is a strong validation of that work and encourages the team to redouble our efforts to address post-traumatic stress injuries, providing much-needed support to public safety personnel and their families.”
Florence Dzierszinski, president of the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, says Carleton exemplifies the innovation, collaboration, and excellence that the Institute seeks to encourage with the award.
“Not only has he contributed significantly to our knowledge about the impact of trauma on mental wellness, he has effectively translated this knowledge into solutions that improve the lives of individual public safety personnel and their families,” says Dzierszinski.