Psychologist Michael Busseri’s study of happiness is one of 18 research projects at Brock University awarded funds from the federal granting agency Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
On September 9, SSHRC announced this year’s research grants for post-secondary researchers across Canada. Brock was awarded more than $3.7 million in three competitions for the 2016 funding year.
Busseri studies how various groups of people – young, old, optimistic, pessimistic, happy, sad – think about their lives over time and how they view whether or not life will get better in the future.
He predicts that a new indicator may be popping up in many countries’ statistics in the near future: Gross National Happiness.
Coined in Bhutan in the early 1970s, the idea is to estimate peoples’ sense of well-being “with the growing understanding that a happy society that feels they have meaning, purpose and satisfaction is also a more productive society,” says Busseri.
The Associate Professor of Psychology will be expanding his research worldwide, comparing Canadians’ perceptions of well-being to those of populations around the world using an international database that tracks these perceptions.
He will also examine countries’ economic and social indicators – gross domestic product, infant mortality, education, access to democratic institutions, etc. – to see if there is a relationship between peoples’ beliefs about their well-being and how the country they are living in is performing economically and socially over time.
“Understanding this at a global level may help inform social policies or at the very least give us information about society and how it sees itself changing over time,” says Busseri. “This information may be useful not only to lay persons but also to governments.”
Busseri can do this research thanks to an Insight Grant he received from SSHRC.
With her Insight Development Grant, Assistant Professor of Recreation & Leisure Studies Colleen Whyte is examining the impact of “deep and sustained” friendships between people living with dementia and their long-standing friends.
Whyte and her team will interview people living with dementia and their friends about the meaning of their friendships, strategies they use to maintain the friendships, ways they use leisure activities to stay connected, and advice they may have for others in a similar situation.
The researchers say their results can be used to help people maintain their friendships.
“Given that the number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to double to over 1.1 million by 2035, more attention must be directed toward understanding ways to ensure that individuals with dementia remain engaged with their network of friends in personally meaningful ways,” says Whyte.
“When people living with dementia can depend on valued friends, they continue to contribute to the social life of their communities, remain engaged in personally meaningful leisure activities and experience feelings of self-worth,” she says.
Brock researchers receiving Insight Grants in the 2016 round are:
- Michael Busseri, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, “On the belief that life gets better and better, or worse and worse over time: Causes and consequences across the adult lifespan and around the world”
- Hevina Dashwood, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, “Does transparency lead to accountability? A two-country study of local implementation of the extractive industries transparency initiative in West Africa”
- Dirk De Clercq, Professor, Goodman School of Business, “An investigation of employee entrepreneurial behaviour: the roles of knowledge sharing and the immediate work context”
- Tiffany Gallagher, Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education, “Supporting literacy coaches as they facilitate teachers’ professional learning”
- Lissa Paul, Professor, Department of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies in Education, “Hunting for Mrs. Fenwick 1766-1840: her life and letters”
- Lianxi Zhou, Professor, Department of Marketing, International Business and Strategy, “The roles of resource diversity and action complexity in the international growth of born-global firms”
Brock researchers receiving Insight Development Grants in the 2016 round are:
- Lynn Arner, Associate Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, “Working-Class Women in the Professoriate”
- Diane Collier, Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education, “Low-income Kids Falling through the Digital Divide: A cross-national study of social and cultural literacies”
- Spy Dénommé-Welch, Assistant Professor, Tecumseh Centre For Aboriginal Research And Education,“Beyond the Rainbow: Investigating representations of gender and sexuality in Indianist music and production”
- Veena Dwivedi, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Linguistics, “The role of emotion in language comprehension”
- Miao Li, (Post-Doc; supervisor: Jan Frijters), Department of Child & Youth Studies, “Timely Identification and Intervention of English Language Learners Who are At–risk for Learning Disabilities”
- Blayne Haggart, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, “The rise of User Rights and Innovation Politics: Power and influence in the global knowledge economy”
- Caitlin Mahy, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, “Parent Perspectives on Children’s Future-thinking”
- Tatyana Sokolyk, Associate Professor, “Cultural Similarity, Information Advantage, and Performance of Foreign Institutional Investors”
- Zachary Spicer, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, “Building a Research Community: Connecting Theory and Practice in the Study of Inter-Municipal cooperation in Canada”
- Elise Thorburn, Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology, “Between the Office and the Prison Yard: Mobile monitoring of social life”
- Colleen Whyte, Assistant Professor, Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies, “Exploring the meaning of deep and sustained friendships for people with dementia”
Brock researchers receiving Partnership Grants in the 2016 round are:
- Gary Libben, Professor, Department of Applied Linguistics, “Words in the World”
“Our researchers continue to expand the boundaries of society’s knowledge and understanding of a wide variety of issues, which leads to the improvement of the lives of many,” says Steven Renzetti, Interim Vice President Research.
“This latest round of SSHRC funding is extremely important as we strengthen our research intensiveness and further develop our reputation. as Canada’s newest comprehensive university,” says Renzetti.
SSHRC’s Insight Grants program provides funding for three to five years for research that accomplishes a number of goals, including: building knowledge and understanding; supporting new approaches to research; and providing training experiences for students.
SSHRC’s Insight Development Grants program supports research in its initial stages. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas.
The Partnership Grant program support formal partnerships between academic researchers, businesses and other partners that will advance knowledge and understanding on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.