Health, Adaptation, and Well-Being Cluster (HAWC)

image of people jumping

The aim of the Health, Adaptation, and Wellbeing Cluster (HAWC) is to study the individual and social factors that enable people to lead happy and healthy lives throughout the lifespan. As human development is a life-long process, people need to constantly adapt their goals and behaviors to changes in their environments in order to maintain high levels of functioning and wellbeing. Our focus on social aspects of adaptation emphasizes the need for children and adults of all ages to pursue their own wellbeing in cooperation with others in a highly social world. The study of wellbeing and adaptation requires a broad range of methods from the traditional laboratory psychology experiment to longitudinal designs, cross-cultural studies, nationally representative surveys, experience sampling studies, and randomized controlled intervention studies. To analyze these complex data, HAWC research utilizes a broad range of advanced statistical methods such as multi-level modeling, structural equation modeling, growth modeling, and survival analysis.

Currently, the core of the cluster consists of nine researchers who study wellbeing and adaptation in relation to health (Judith Andersen, Norman Farb, & Mary Lou Smith), interpersonal relationships (Emily Impett), positive emotions (Jennifer Stellar), social-emotional development and children's mental health (Tina Malti), personality (Erika Carlson, Ulrich Schimmack), and technology use (Anna Lomanowska). The cluster operates out of a new building with research space and graduate, post-doc, and faculty offices, and which also houses the administrative offices of the Psychology Department at UTM. The cluster is expected to grow by at least one more position to complement existing interest within the next few years.

HAWC graduate students are part of the tri-campus graduate program at the University of Toronto and most are affiliated with the Social, Personality, & Abnormal (SPA) [] area in UofT Psychology.

Faculty Members with primary affiliation to HAWC

Judith Andersen examines the mental and physical health consequences of severe stress and the biological mechanisms by which these changes occur. Her research interests include the physiological processes associated with psychotherapeutic interventions for stress-related health conditions, as well as LGBT population health.

Erika Carlson examines how personality and social contexts affect well-being. Her main research interest is understanding the mechanisms underlying blind spots in self-knowledge and how to improve self-knowledge (e.g., mindfulness). She also examines how personality affects the ways we perceive our social contexts as well as the outcomes of these perceptions. 

Norman Farb examines the relationship between self-construal, emotional reactions, and well-being. His research interests include neural and cognitive factors that promote stress resilience or vulnerability, mindfulness training, interoception, and relapse prevention in major depression. 

Emily Impett examines topics at the intersection of well-being and interpersonal relationships. Her research interests include motivational factors that promote relationship happiness and health, prosocial emotions across the lifespan, and the authenticity of the self in social contexts.

Tina Malti examines social-emotional and moral development, trajectories of adaptive and maladaptive social behaviour, and mental health in children and adolescents. She also has a strong interest in evidence-based, developmental intervention in school and out-of-school time contexts.

Ulrich Schimmack examines how individuals’ personality influences their wellbeing and adaptation. His research interests include the development and validation of wellbeing measures and the use of advanced statistical models to test causal models of the determinants of wellbeing.

Jennifer Stellar emotions, psychophysiology, health, altruism, morality, positive psychology

Affiliated Faculty Members

Stuart Kamenetsky
social development; exceptionality in human learning, disability and giftedness; cross-cultural psychology.

Keisuke Fukuda cognitive neuroscience; visual cognition; attention and memory; memory and learning; EEG; Individual differences

Dax Urbszat
personality, social, forensic and abnormal psychology.

Doug VanderLaan
gender and sexual orientation diversity, child and adolescent mental health, alloparenting; family and peer relationships; developmental psychology; crosscultural psychology; evolutionary psychology; clinical psychology; neuroimaging