Dr. Lara Aknin
Hello! I’m Lara Aknin, an associate professor of Social Psychology at Simon Fraser University and scholar at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. My research interests lie at the intersection of social psychology, positive psychology, economics and judgement and decision making. My research questions often include the study of what makes people happy, the emotional consequences of kind or generous behavior, and the well-being outcomes of specific spending choices. Most of the research I have conducted thus far examines people’s perceptions of the money and happiness relationship and whether people reap greater happiness from spending money on others (i.e. prosocial spending) than when spending the same amount of money on themselves.
I am currently completing my B.A. (Hons.) in Psychology. My academic interests include developmental psychopathology, social psychology, and abnormal psychology.
I am a fifth year PhD student in Dr. Aknin’s lab. I completed my MA here at Simon Fraser University, on the emotional consequences of perceptions of high income mobility. Primarily, my research centers around perceptions of economic inequality and their downstream consequences. Currently I am working on a number of projects exploring ways to reduce tolerance for economic inequality. On top of my current research I am broadly interested in various aspects of social psychology and research methods; specifically income mobility, morality, psychometrics, and statistics.
I am a third year Masters Student. I completed my Bachelors at University of Puget Sound in Washington State. Much of my research centers around the emotional benefits of prosocial and altruistic action. The central focus of many of my current studies is to determine whether the emotional benefits of prosocial behavior and generous spending represent a psychological functional universal within our species. Currently, my primary line of research seeks to determine whether the emotional rewards of prosocial behavior are detectable in criminal, antisocial, and psychopathic populations. My broad research interests include forensic psychology, prosocial and altruistic behavior, judgment and decision making, and psychopathy.
I am a first year Master’s student working with Dr. Aknin at SFU where I investigate how various interpersonal factors influence charitable behaviours and the downstream emotional consequences of giving. I completed my B.A. (Hons.) at the University of British Columbia on the social and emotional consequences of using smartphone technology; I am currently involved in several ongoing projects at UBC investigating the motivational role of shame in promoting self-change behaviours in clinical and non-clinical samples as well as the role individual differences play in impacting researchers’ statistical analyses. Additionally, I conduct research for a local charitable foundation, CHIMP (Charitable Impact) alongside an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Harvard Business School, UBC, and the University of the Fraser Valley. At CHIMP, I am investigating the longitudinal, causal impact of CHIMP’s community-based charitable education programs on students’ and youth athletes’ generosity, character development, and happiness. Beyond my current projects, I am generally interested in the role that technology and various social factors play in developing, enhancing, or hindering prosocial behaviours and emotional well-being. Relatedly, I am interested in using psychological science to inform the design and evaluation of interventions aimed at promoting prosocial behaviour or enhancing emotional well-being for people of all ages.
I’m completing my BA (Hons.) in Psychology, with a minor in Counselling and Human Development. Currently, I’m working with Dr. Lara Aknin and my honours thesis explores the impact of school-based philanthropy programs, which empower young children to do kind or generous things for others, on well-being, peer relations, and sense of social responsibility. In addition, I’m also interested in other aspects of social psychology, including motivations and outcomes for prosocial behaviour. After graduation, I plan to take some time off to gain work and travelling experience and then I intend to pursue my Master’s in either Experimental Psychology or Counselling Psychology. During my spare time, I enjoy catching up with friends, reading a good book, and exploring local gems in the city.
Honorary Lab Member
Min Je Woo