Welcome to the website for The Betterment Labs, located in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Betterment Lab’s Director is Dr. Michael Wohl, a Professor in the Department of Psychology.
Broadly, people who work in The Betterment Labs focus their attention on one of two lines of research:
1. Conflict Resolution: In this line of research, we examine the causes and consequences of harmdoing at both the interpersonal (one person transgressing against another) and intergroup level (historical and contemporary harm experienced by members of one group at the hands of another group). Of particular concern is the emotional reaction that stems from harming or being harmed (e.g., angst, guilt) and their effects on relations with others. For example, we have shown that collective angst (i.e., concern for the future viability of own’s group) is a strong motivator of group-based protective behaviour. This behaviour can either be constructive (e.g., donating time and money to your group) or destructive (e.g., support for aggression toward other groups). Ultimately, this research is aimed at advancing peace and reconciliation. As such, we also focus attention on the apology-forgiveness link and ways to make this link stronger.
2. Gambling and Overcoming Barriers to Change: In this line of research, we examine factors that lead to excessive play (e.g., erroneous cognitions, craving) and means to increase responsible gambling (e.g., setting a limit on play). Recently, attention has been paid to the potential impact social casino gaming (i.e., free-to-play games on social network sites) and loyalty program membership can have on (responsible) gambling behaviour. We also conduct a great deal of research on how to help people who live with addiction overcome barriers to behavioural change. Primarily, this work focuses on the utility of nostalgic reverie for the pre-addicted self as a motivator for change.
Funding for Dr. Wohl’s research has come from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Gambling Research Exchange, Manitoba Gambling Research Program, Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Institute for Humane Studies, International Center for Responsible Gaming, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
Dr. Wohl’s CURRICULUM VITAE (updated 06 Feb 2024)