What's New in Research

What's New in Research


New Brock research explores recognition of other-race faces

September 15, 2015

Two pictures of the same face can look very different, which is why many of us don’t like our passport photo. Trying to recognize faces when appearance varies is especially challenging when viewing faces of a different race, new Brock University research has shown.

In what is a twist to the common expression, “they all look the same to me,” a research team led by psychologist Catherine Mondloch found that people were twice as likely to believe that two pictures of the same person belonged to different people when sorting other-race photos compared to own-race faces.

“We’ve known for a long time that it is reasonably easy to recognize faces from our own age and ethnic group,” says Mondloch. “Yet, when we encounter people from a category with which we are less familiar – infant faces, other-races faces, older faces – we are less accurate.

“The research field has focused on the fact that we have a hard time telling some faces apart,” says Mondloch. “Now we know that telling faces apart is only part of the story. Our finding turns the field upside down a little bit; this is the flip side of the problem.”

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Battling birds: New research focuses on deterrent methods in vineyards

September 11, 2015

As grape growers tend to their crops preparing them for harvest, something is cutting into, or rather snacking into, their bottom line.

Bird activity at some Ontario trial sites results in up to 30-per-cent damage in crop size annually, and no vineyard site is immune, says Jim Willwerth, viticulturist at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

“We live in a beautiful region,” said Willwerth, “But with this environment, we also experience an increase in bird pressure. There’s a lot of damage in the vineyard that the grower doesn’t see.”

Willwerth said current deterrent methods have mixed results. Netting is cumbersome, costly and difficult to remove immediately before harvest, while acoustical deterrents such as bird bangers have negative effects on neighbour relations.

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Brock professor receives highest academic honour

September 10, 2015

Brock University history professor David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), the country’s top academic body.

The historian is one of 87 academics to be named new Fellows for 2015.

“I’m delighted to see my work recognized by this distinction,” said Schimmelpenninck. “I’m honoured to join this distinguished group of scholars. It will certainly help my work by putting it a bit more in the spotlight.”

Schimmelpenninck is an expert on Russian and Inner Asian history who has written a number of books, including Russian Orientalism: Asia in the Russian Mind from Peter the Great to the Emigration, as well as co-editing books and publishing journal articles.

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Brock researchers receive SSHRC grants

September 8, 2015

For children with dyslexia, learning to read can be a struggle. It’s hard not to let discouragement and frustration win out as vulnerable readers strive to unlock the mystery of letters and words.

Yet research shows that these children are highly creative. The focus of John McNamara’s upcoming work is to tap into this creativity to motivate vulnerable readers to continue learning.

The Department of Child and Youth Studies professor will build upon a literacy program he devised earlier for vulnerable readers called “Reading Rocks,” which teaches core literacy skills and requires children to graph and monitor their reading goals and results as a way of “showing them their own success,” says McNamara.

With his new Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), McNamara and his graduate student Hilary Scruton will be researching ways to tap into what studies show is a tendency for children with reading disabilities to over compensate with the right side of their brain – the “creativity” centre – instead of the “analytical” left side when they read.

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Research study to examine weight change and other first-year health issues

September 1, 2015

A Brock University research study hopes to find out why adding pounds of bodyweight in the first year of university is so common it has its own moniker.

The ‘Freshman 15’, as the phenomenon is known, is one focus of the Brock Transition Study, which looks at the impact the transition from high school to university has on the body.

Researchers from Brock’s Department of Kinesiology want to examine how the first year of university affects students’ nutrition, exercise and sleep habits, as well as stress levels, body composition, body image and mental health.

The study, led by Kinesiology Assistant Professor Andrea Josse and her two graduate students, is looking for first-year Brock University students between the ages of 17 and 20. First-year students can participate in the study as soon as they show up on campus in September.

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Gordon Hodson explores dehumanization

August 25, 2015

Professor Gordon Hodson wants to find out why some people see others as “less than human.”

Hodson, in the Department of Psychology, is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence for 2015-2018. The Chancellor’s Chair has been offered since 2001 by Brock University to recognize excellence in scholarship among faculty members.

Hodson, director of the Brock Lab of Intergroup Processes, will use the Chancellor’s Chair to continue his research into the extent to which people who dehumanize one group (e.g., a racial group) also dehumanize other groups (e.g., a sexual minority), a phenomenon he calls “generalized dehumanization.”

“The less we see people as human, the less concerned we are for their welfare,” Hodson explains. “Given that very little research has examined the causes of dehumanization, I’m hoping to help shed light on the reasons why we come to see others as ‘less than human’ relative to ourselves.”

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