A 2014 research article by UWinnipeg’s Psychology Department’s Dr. Paul Trapnell, Erin Buckels (UWinnipeg alumni and current PhD student at UBC), and Dr. Delroy Paulhus (UBC) continues to draw media attention two years after its publication. In an October 14, 2016 news article about Donald Trump in The Globe and Mail, the research article by Trapnell et al., entitled “Trolls Just Want to Have Fun,” is referenced throughout, in relation to American presidential candidate Donald Trump and his extensive use of social networking sites during his unorthodox campaign, to malign, disparage, and undermine his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, and everything and everyone else who disapprove of him and his rhetoric. To read the full research article by Trapnell et al., please consult the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 67, September 2014, Pages 97–102.
Department of Psychology Associate Professor Stephen Smith and colleagues from the University of Waterloo have received a substantial grant of $399,898 from the Manitoba Gambling Research Program. The research will examine features of slot machines that make them so appealing and even addictive to players despite the fact that “the house always wins.”
The proposed studies will examine the processes by which slot machines induce certain mental states in players that make it more difficult to stop playing. Specifically, players report forgetting everything else around them and becoming completely absorbed in the game. They refer to this subjective state as “the zone” or “the machine zone.”
The researchers will test several hypotheses about the characteristics of people that make them more susceptible to this phenomenon. One trait that will be studied is attentional processing, the hypothesis being that people who have difficulty staying on task will be more prone to the “zone” effect. Certain personality traits may also contribute to the effect, another hypothesis that Smith and colleagues will examine.
Furthermore, the ambitious project will evaluate the role of attention in other psychological principles that contribute to the addictive nature of slot machines, such as variable-ratio schedules of reinforcement that induce high and persistent rates of responding. Even stronger effects could occur for games that “force” greater attention to the game.
Smith is well known for his research on the neuroscience of emotion and is currently supported by an NSERC Operating Grant that was recently renewed for the next five years. Bringing his expertise to bear on this new line of research promises to help us understand better gambling behaviour and the harm caused by addiction to slot machines.
The Psychology Department is pleased to announce that the provincial government has approved a third Psychology program: the 4-year General B.A. in Psychology! This program will be available for declaration in Fall 2016. Hence, students who would like to take this program may begin taking the required courses (commencing with Psyc-1000).
The 4-Year B.A. degree in Psychology meets the needs of students interested in psychology-related careers who require a deeper examination of psychology than provided by the 3-year degree program, but do not require an Honours degree in Psychology. Students may plan to enter careers with an applied orientation directly after graduation (e.g., human services, community settings, law enforcement, health, business), or to apply for professional programs that require a 4-year degree, but not the more academic stream represented by the Honours degree. The program provides an opportunity for students to explore how their developing knowledge about psychological science can be applied in one or more fields of application.
For further details on this program, please consult the Psychology Department.