Lifespan Development Stream

The Lifespan Developmental program at Brock University provides opportunities for graduate students to study social, emotional, cognitive and neuropsychological development from a variety of perspectives in both typically and atypically developing individuals across the lifespan.

Collectively, our faculty use a variety of techniques to study development, including psychophysiological (e.g., EEG/ERP, cortisol, heart rate), eye-tracking technology, behavioural measures in laboratory settings, structured observations in a simulated home environment, analysis of large-sample community-based databases, computerized tasks designed to measure perceptual and intellectual development and psychophysiological markers of arousal in the context of social interaction.Individual students in developmental psychology typically specialize in a particular area of development (e.g., social cognitive, perceptual, psychopathology) or in a particular developmental stage. However, we are committed to enabling students to study development using an interdisciplinary approach, exemplified by research opportunities with developmental faculty in Behavioural Neuroscience who use electrophysiological and psychophysiological indices of memory, attention, and arousal within a developmental context.

Additional opportunities are available through associations with the Faculty of Education and in Brock’s interdisciplinary Department of Child and Youth Studies, providing unique opportunities for research and thesis collaboration.

Goals of the Program

The goal of the Lifespan Development Program is to prepare students for careers in academic, research, and applied settings by providing both a broad background in developmental principles and expertise in contemporary approaches to the understanding of human development.

Students work closely with a faculty mentor and a supervisory committee; they are encouraged to pursue opportunities to conduct research with other faculty members and graduate students in order to achieve breadth.

Students are expected to disseminate their research findings through publications in peer-review journals and through participation in national and international conferences. Travel awards and travel assistance are readily available from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Psychology Department, and faculty mentors.

Nature of the Program

  • A mentorship model that is characterized by close, collaborative interactions among faculty and students.
  • Individualized program of study that draws on breadth of faculty interests and expertise within the program and from departments and programs across the university.
  • Few traditional courses are required.
  • Learning opportunities are provided through ongoing seminars where faculty and graduate students meet to discuss their ongoing research projects as well as current journal articles and contemporary issues from the field of developmental psychology.
  • Financial support for thesis research and its dissemination to the scientific community.
  • Opportunities to gain teaching expertise through teaching apprenticeship, teaching assistantships, and lectureships.
  • Opportunities to obtain applied experience through apprenticeships (teaching, research, and/or community).

Research Environment

The core faculty in the Lifespan Development Program have active, productive research labs with international reputations.

The faculty research programs represent diverse facets of developmental psychology and are supported by funding agencies such as NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, CFI and the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science. Our new, state-of-the art Lifespan Development Research Centre facilitates data collection and interactions among research groups.

Key Research Questions Include

  • The role of early visual experience in the development of perceptual expertise.
  • The development of face processing (e.g., face recognition, recognition of emotional facial expressions) in children, young adults, and senior citizens.
  • Psychosocial and neuropsychological development across the transition from adolescence to adulthood and how it bears upon risky decision making.
  • The role of individual predispositions (e.g., temperament, , personality) and social relationships (e.g. parenting and peer relationships) in the development of child and adolescent behavioural outcomes, including aggression, delinquency, and substance use.
  • The role of social and cognitive development in children, adolescents, and older adults’ deceptive behaviours.
  • The role of question format on children’s ability to accurately and honestly report their knowledge and experiences.
  • Activation of brain systems as reflected in EEG/ERP and psychophysiological measures in children and adolescents, both as a function of maturation and as a function of risk-taking, cognitive and social information processing, and personality in adolescence.
  • The relation between developmental pathways and protective factors that promote and strengthen positive adjustment and academic achievement among adolescents and emerging adults.
  • The role of evolution in shaping child development.
  • The development and prevention of aggression, bullying and peer victimization,
  • The study of cross-cultural models of child development to better understand how differences and similarities in cultural environments shape children’s development.
  • The development of memory for future intentions in young children and older adults.
  • The role of self-regulation and social understanding in children’s future-oriented thinking and planning.

Lifespan Development Faculty

  • Michael Busseri  Temporal self-evaluations and conceptions of aging across the lifespan
  • Andrew Dane   Children’s aggressive behaviour, bullying and peer victimization
  • Angela Evans   Honesty and  social-cognitive development across the lifespan
  • Caitlin Mahy   Memory and future-oriented cognition in childhood
  • Cathy Mondloch   Face recognition and emotion perception across the lifespan
  • Liz Shulman   Adolescent development and risky decision-making
  • Teena Willoughby   Adolescent and emerging adult risk and resilience, health-risk behaviours, transitions and mental health