Webinar Series

Wednesday, February 20th 2019
8:00pm to 9:00pmEST
Topic: Distal and Proximal Predictors of Daily Compassionate Action

Presenter: Myriam Mongrain

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Myriam Mongrain is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at York University. Professor Mongrain was born in Quebec and is fluently bi-lingual. She is a graduate of McGill University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at Davis. She is an active clinician and researcher. Her research has focused on the role of emotional dependence and self-criticism in the occurrence of major depression and ways to ameliorate these personality traits. Recently, she has looked at positive psychology and examined the effect of interventions such as the practice of compassion, gratitude and optimism in large community samples. These interventions have been administered online and found effective in reducing depression. She has been looking for lawful relationships between individual difference variables and resilience boosting exercises.

Major Objectives of Presentation:
The literature suggests universal tendencies towards prosocial behavior. “Born to be good” (Goetz, Keltner, & Simon-Thomas, 2010; Keltner, 2009), biological and environmental theories have emphasized an innate capacity for human goodness (e.g. Wilson, 2015; Zaki & Mitchell, 2013). Yet findings in the literature also suggest important variations among individuals in the propensity for compassionate responding. This presentation will discuss distal predictors (e.g. personality traits associated with deficits in prosociality), and proximal (i.e. situational parameters) associated with compassionate action. The content will also include facilitative skills (e.g. feeling safe, high self-efficacy and high autonomy) empirically associated with these responses. Illustrations using preliminary results of a study using ecological momentary assessment platform capitalizing on smart phone technology will be presented.

Significance of this work:

Basic questions around situational parameters within which compassion unfolds in daily life requires greater empirical attention. The innovative use of smart phone technology represents a promising and ecologically valid approach to the study of this phenomenon. The unique contribution of this work will be to delineate meaningful individual differences in the expression of compassionate responding and its consequences for providers. The findings are essential for the development of effective interventions that will facilitate these behaviors and enhance subjective well-being.

Tuesday, January, 15th 
8:00pm to 9:00pmEST
Topic: Power and the Power of Apologies in Understanding Post-Transgression Responses
Presenter: Professor C. Ward Struthers

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Webinar Description: 
Social bonds are crucial for the survival of human beings. However, in the process of developing and maintaining relationships, people commit transgressions that jeopardize their social bonds. In this talk, I will show how, why, and when victims’ social power influences their motivation to seek revenge, harbour a grudge, or forgive transgressors following a transgression. This research is important because it demonstrates that victims and transgressors can play an active role in the reconciliation process.


C. Ward Struthers is a professor of psychology at York University in Toronto Canada where he has worked since 1996. He received his PhD from the University of Manitoba in 1995 and was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1994 until 1996. He was the recipient of the Department of Psychology Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1999 and the Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Award in 2010. For the past 25 years, his program of research has primarily focused on answering three questions. What intrapersonal psychological factors associated with victims of a transgression might influence their decision to seek revenge, harbor a grudge, or forgive? What interpersonal factors associated with transgressors might influence victims’ post-transgression responses? What psychological mechanisms can explain why the intrapersonal and interpersonal factors influence victims’ post-transgression responses? His research is relevant to a broad range of interpersonal relationships including romantic, familial, friendship, and coworker, and timely, real world issues including relationship satisfaction.