Members

Principal Investigator

David Rast, III, Director

Rast - Website

David is an assistant professor of social psychology and leadership at the University of Alberta. David has two primary lines of research drawing extensively on social identity and self-categorization theories, as well as related subtheories. First, he is interested in understanding how leaders elicit or incite social and organizational change by going against their group’s norms. Second, he is interested in understanding how leaders can bridge profound intergroup divisions to build a unified no identity and achieve a joint goal. Other lines of research are related to these two themes, exploring the processes and implications of political identity, minority influence, deviance, intergroup cooperation/conflict, leader rhetoric, and organizational behavior. David’s work is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

David completed his PhD and Master’s at Claremont Graduate University (USA) during which time he was a Predoctoral Research Fellow for the U.S. Army Research Institute’s Leader Development Research Unit at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas (USA). Prior to joining the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta in 2015, he was an assistant professor at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Work Psychology (UK). David currently serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Consulting Editor for Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, and is appointed to the Editorial Boards of Self and Identity and the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology. In 2018, David was elected as a Fellow of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology.

Download CV (pdf)

Lab Manager

Jamie Teppan is a fifth-year undergraduate psychology student with a minor in biology. She is interested in social psychology, particularly leadership behavior and intergroup dynamics. After completion of her undergraduate degree, Jamie hopes to pursue graduate studies in counseling or clinical psychology.

Graduate Students

Angela Ma is in the third year of her PhD program at the University of Alberta. She is interested in the ability of leaders to promote social identity change in their group. Her current research focuses on the impact of leader rhetoric on what followers perceive as normal within their groups. Angela completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta, and she is continuing in the graduate program after successfully defending her Master’s thesis, Divide and Conquer: Effects of Highlighting Sub-Group Divisions on Leader Support from the Majority.

  • Ma, A. C., Rast, D., Gaffney, A. M. (2023, February). Setting the standard: Leaders changing perceived norms within groups. Poster accepted for presentation at the 2023 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (GPIR) pre-conference, Altanta, GA, USA.
  • Ma, A. C., Rast, D. E. III., & Gaffney, A. M. (2022, June) Setting the standard: Leaders changing perceived norms within groups [data blitz presentation]. 2022 Canadian Psychological Association Social & Personality preconference, Calgary, AB, Canada.
  • Ma, A. C., Rast, D. E. III., & Gaffney, A. M. (2022, February). “Our” values: Effects of leader rhetoric on perceptions of multiculturalism. Poster accepted for the 23rd annual conference for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP).

Kathryn Kincaid is a PhD student in Social Psychology at the University of Alberta. Her research interests center on marginal, unexpected, and non-prototypical leadership. She is particularly interested in the effects of uncertainty on support for autocratic leaders. She previously earned her Master’s degree in Psychology at the University of Alberta and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Education, and Spanish from Butler University (Indianapolis, United States).

  • Kincaid, K. & Rast, D. E. III (2023). Social identity theory. In G. R. Goethals, S. T. Allison, & G. J. Sorenson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Leadership Studies (2nd ed.) SAGE. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781071840801
  • Kincaid, K. & Rast, D. E. III (2019). Hogg, Michael A. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K Shackelford (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1756-1

Lily Syfers received her B.A. and M.A. at Humboldt State University in Social Psychology. She is now pursuing her PhD in Social and Cultural Psychology at the UA. She is interested in conducting research from the social identity perspective on social influence and change. Specifically, how leaders and leader rhetoric can enact social and organizational change.

  • Syfers, L., Rast, D.E., III., Gaffney, A.M. (2019, April). When drastic change is bad: Strategies for incoming leaders. Oral Presentation at the 2019 meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Pasadena, CA.
  • Syfers, L., Sherburne, B., Gaffney, A.M., Rast, D.E., III, & eSTRADA, D.A. (. (2018, June). Communication of Group Norms Through Election Results. Oral Presentation at the 2018 meeting of the International Association of Language and Social Psychology, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Syfers, L., Gaffney, A.M., & Rast, D.E., III. (2021). Communicating group norms through election results.The British Journal of Social Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12481
  • Syfers, L., Sherburne, B., Gaffney, A.M., & Rast, D.E., III, Gaffney, A.M. (2018, June). Communication of Group Norms Through Election Results. Oral Presentation at the 2018 meeting of the International Association of Language and Social Psychology, Edmonton, Alberta.

Yunzhu Ouyang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on unconventional leadership (e.g., non-prototypical leaders, female leaders, etc.), group processes, and social change. Specifically, her research delves into the ways leaders can garner support and drive group changes through managing their rhetoric, particularly during times of uncertainty. Yunzhu received her Master’s degree in General Psychology at Arizona State University (USA).

  • Ouyang, Y., Rast, D. E. III, & Gaffney, A. M. (2023, February). Need for a distinct identity: Effects of social identity rhetoric, group entitativity, and group identification on leader effectiveness [Poster presentation]. Twenty-fourth annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Atlanta, GA, United States.
  • Ouyang, Y., Rast, D. E. III, Gaffney, A. M., & Razvan H. (2022, February). Leadership preferences during uncertain times: The use of social identity rhetoric in international relations [Poster presentation]. Twenty-third annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), San Francisco, CA, United States.
  • Ouyang, Y., Rast, D. E. III, Hackett, J. D., & Hohman, Z. P. (2020). The American south: Explorations on southern attachments and personal values. Journal of Social Psychology. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2019.1629866

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Andrei Gatchalian is a third-year honors psychology student, minoring in sociology. He is interested in social psychology, particularly non-prototypical leaders and intergroup behavior. Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Andrei aims to pursue graduate studies in industrial-organizational psychology.

Anikka Hodge is a third-year honours psychology student, minoring in sociology. She is interested in social psychology, particularly topics related to intergroup dynamics and social identity. In the future, Anikka is interested in pursuing graduate studies in either clinical or counseling psychology.

Feaven Blate is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology and biology. She is interested in intergroup relations and hopes to learn more about the work behind research. She intends to pursue graduate studies in counselling psychology.

Krish Patel is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology and minoring in biological sciences. He is interested in social psychology, more specifically unconventional leadership and the development of intergroup interactions. After his undergraduate degree, he plans on pursuing a career in psychiatry.

Mahi Rawat is a second-year undergraduate student, majoring in biological sciences with a minor in psychology. She is interested in social psychology, unconventional leadership, and genetics. In the future, she hopes to combine her interests and pursue a master’s degree in genetic counselling.

Mohammed Ali is a third-year undergraduate psychology specialization student in the faculty of science. He is interested in developing his research skills and the links between psychology and leadership and is hoping to pursue a master’s degree in psychology and enter the field of clinical psychology. 

Monisha Mohan is a 4th-year undergraduate student at the University of Alberta, majoring in psychology and minoring in economics. She is interested in learning more about intergroup leadership through research. Upon completing her degree, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in either counselling psychology or industrial-organizational psychology.

Morgan Benterud is a second-year honors undergraduate student majoring in psychology. She is interested in social psychology and interpersonal relationships. After completion of her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue a masters and possibly PhD in clinical psychology.

Musse Dese is a 5th year undergraduate psychology student with a minor in biological sciences. He is interested in social and developmental psychology and hopes to follow his passions into a masters in counselling psychology.

Nathaniel Braat is a 4th year student, majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he plans to pursue a masters degree and later, a PhD in either child or forensic clinical psychology. 

Nivas Malaiaiyan graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He is interested in social psychology and excited to learn more about leadership. In the future, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

Oluchi Nwoke is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and Anthropology. She is interested in social psychology, particularly about inter-group interactions and their reactions to anti-normative change. She plans to pursue counselling psychology, combining research and field experience, to work with people of colour in marginalized environments. 

Omar Wazed is a third-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts, where he is pursuing a dual major in Psychology and Economics. He has a passion for exploring the intricate workings of the human mind and behavior. Omar plans to further his studies with a Master of Science in Clinical or Counselling Psychology, aspiring to become a Clinical Psychologist, Psychological Researcher, or an Urban Planner.

Patil Elshamy recently graduated with a BSc – general from the University of Alberta with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She is particularly interested in topics pertaining to social psychology like the effects of conflict on group cooperation. Patil hopes to expand on these interests as she continues her education to pursue a Masters in the field of clinical counselling.

Pooja Nayak received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors from the University of Alberta. She is interested in social psychology, especially leadership and intergroup relationships. In the future, she wishes to pursue a Master’s in Industrial – Organizational psychology. 

Rachel Bachand is a 4th year student majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. She is interested in learning more about the relationships between social influence and leadership. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in counselling psychology.

Rahul Sharma is a fourth-year psychology specialization student in the faculty of science. He is interested in the domain of social psychology, specifically the factors that go into the emergence of a social hierarchy. He is planning to go into clinical psychology, along with an unshakeable curiosity into the world of forensic psychology, and aspires to enter the field of counselling. 

Shiza Riaz is a recent graduate of the University of Alberta, with a double major in Psychology and Biology. She is interested in how unexpected leadership is derived during periods of uncertainty and intergroup interactions. Currently, she is planning to pursue graduate school specifically in the field of Clinical Psychology.

Affiliate Lab Members

We actively collaborate with a number of scholars and researchers at other universities around the world. This is a brief list of people with whom we have active and on-going research collaborations.

Richard J. Crisp


Richard J. Crisp
is a professor of psychology and Head of the Department at Durham University (UK). Rich has published widely on diversity, multiculturalism, prejudice, stereotyping, social cognition and intergroup contact.

Amber M. Gaffney

Amber M. Gaffney is an assistant professor of psychology at Humbodlt State University (USA). Her research focuses on minority influence, group polarization, leadership, and attitude change from a social identity and self-categorization perspective.

Steffen Giessner

Steffen Giessner is a professor of organizational behavior and change at the Rotterdam School of Management (Netherlands). His primary research topics are employee support during organizational merger, follower’s perceptions of leadership, antecedents of leader behavior, and non-verbal communication of power.

Justin D. Hackett

Justin D. Hackett is an associate professor of psychology at California University of Pennsylvania (USA). His research interests include political psychology, social change, social influence, social engagement and sense of community.

Michael A. Hogg

Michael A. Hogg is a professor of social psychology at Claremont Graduate University (USA). Mike’s research focuses on group processes, intergroup relations and the self-concept. His is closely associated with social identity theory, and he is considered the leading world expert on the social identity and self-categorization theories.

Georgina Randsley de Moura

Georgina Randsley de Moura is a professor of social psychology at the University of Kent (UK). Her research is principally in the areas of leadership, innovation and what happens when group members break rules or norms. Her research focuses intra-and intergroup dynamics and social psychology in organizations.

Daan van Knippenberg

Daan van Knippenberg is the Joseph F. Rocereto Professor of Management at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business (USA). Daan’s work closely associated with the organizational application of social identity theory. He has published extensively on topics such as leadership, diversity, team cognition, and creativity.