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.

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Lab Manager

Alexandria Barrett is going into her fourth year of undergraduate study with a major in honors psychology. She has an interest in social psychology, particularly in unexpected leadership and non-portotpyical leaders. Following her undergraduate degree, Alex hopes to purse graduate studies with a focus on clinical psychology.

Graduate Students

Angela Ma is in the second 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 follower’s perceptions of who belongs to the group. 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. E. III, & Gaffney, A. M. (2019, February). Gone too far?: How uncertainty influences support for highly entitative, extremist groups. Poster accepted for presentation at the 20th annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Portland, OR.

  • Ma, A. C., Rast, D. E. III, & Gaffney, A. M. (2019, February). Gone too far?: How uncertainty influences support for highly entitative, extremist groups. Poster accepted for presentation at the 20th annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Portland, OR.
  • Ma, A. C., Rast, D. E. III, & Gaffney, A. M. (2018, March). Identification with extremist groups: How important is entitativity? Poster session at the 19th annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Atlanta, GA.

Christine Kershaw is in the fourth year of her PhD program at the University of Alberta. In general, she is interested in intra- and intergroup interactions. Specifically, Christine is interested in the accessibility of different groups/identities, how norms within those groups/identities affect behavior, and how altering the salience of those norms leads to changing behavior between groups (e.g., choosing to compete) and within the group (e.g., choosing one leader instead of another). Christine received her Bachelor of Arts from Arcadia University (Pennsylvania, USA) with dual degrees in Psychology and History. She received her Master’s in General Psychology at the University of Dayton (USA).

  • R.M., Kershaw, C., & Prosser, J. (2018). A meta-analytic investigation of the relation between interpersonal attraction and enacted behavior. Psychological Bulletin. doi: 10.1037/bul0000148
  • Kershaw, C., & Rast, D. E., III (2018). Social influence in leadership. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.252
  • Kershaw, C., Rast, D E., III, Hogg, M. A., & van Knippenberg, D. (2020). Divided groups need leadership: A study of the effectiveness of collective identity, dual identity, and intergroup relational identity rhetoric. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. doi: 10.1111/jasp.12715
  • Kershaw. C., Rast, D.E., III, Hogg, M.A., & van Knippenberg, D. (2021). Battling ingroup bias with effective intergroup leadership. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12445

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 third year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include gender, leadership, and group process. Specifically, she is interested in how female leaders gain more preference by looking at people’s different perception on male and female, and how leaders promote group innovation by deviating the group norms. Yunzhu received her Master’s degree in General Psychology at Arizona State University (USA).

  • Ouyang, Y., Rast, D. E. III, Hackett, J. D., & Hohman, Z. P. (in press). The American south: Explorations on southern attachments and personal values. Journal of Social Psychology. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2019.1629866
  • Ouyang, Y. & Rast, D. E. III (2019, February). Leadership in Times of Uncertainty: When Can New Leaders Gain the Leeway to Be Different? Poster accepted for presentation at the 20th annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention (SPSP). Portland, OR.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Anastassija Mimović is a graduate of the honors psychology program at the University of Alberta. She is interested in social psychology, namely minority leaders and institutional prejudice. At the moment, she plans to pursue graduate school after completing her undergraduate degree to further her research and studies in psychology.

Emma Monaghan received her Bachelor’s degree in honors psychology in Fall 2021. She is interested in social identity, and how groups react to anti-normative change. In the future, she hopes to continue her research and apply it to policy or the field of law.

Haley Hines originally moved to Edmonton from Nova Scotia to pursue a Bachelor’s in Commerce but has since realized how passionate she is about social psychology.  She is going into her fifth year this fall with a special interest in relationships and human behavior as well as human sexuality.  After she has completed her undergraduate plan, she intends to attend graduate school to continue to pursue social psychology research. 

Jamie Teppan is a fourth-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.

Kinley Link is a fourth-year undergraduate psychology student with a minor in English. She is particularly interested in the association between terror management theory and the marginalization of minority groups. After finishing her degree, she plans to pursue a masters in counseling psychology with a focus on relationships and/or development.

Krish Patel is a third-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 either psychiatry or industrial-organizational psychology. 

Nathaniel Braat is a 3rd 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. 

Nickia Wheeler is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in honors psychology. She is passionate about social psychology, especially regarding leadership and intergroup relations. Following the completion of her degree, she intends to pursue a master’s in Industrial-Organizational 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.

Rahul Sharma is a third-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.