PhD Student, Psychology (Vanier Scholar)


Twitter: @aliciamcvarnock

Previous Degrees:

Master of Science, Applied Science, Saint Mary’s University

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Saint Mary’s University

Research Interests:

I am a third-year PhD student in Developmental Psychology, working under the supervision of Dr. Robert Coplan. My research currently focuses on experiences of solitude during adolescence and emerging adulthood. I am specifically interested in looking beyond time alone to consider how the “what” (i.e., solitary activities), “why” (i.e., internal motivations), and “where” (i.e., environmental context) of solitude interact to predict well-being. I am also enthusiastic about advanced statistical techniques and hope to graduate with a concentration in Quantitative Methodology.

As a secondary line of research, I use participatory action, mixed (qualitative/quantitative) research methods to examine how community-based interventions can be leveraged to enhance ecological resilience in violence-affected youth.

Undergraduate Honours Thesis Title: Social withdrawal and academic achievement in emerging adulthood

Master of Science Thesis Title: Service quality, resilience, and social-emotional competence in vulnerable youth: What’s LOVE got to do with it?

Doctoral Dissertation Title: TBA

Selected Publications:

Bekkhus, M., McVarnock, A., Coplan, R. J., Ulset, V. V., & Kraft, B. (2022). Developmental changes in the structure of shyness and internalizing symptoms from early to middle childhood. Child Development, 94(4), 1078-1086.

Closson, L. M., & McVarnock, A. M., & Cook, L. E. (2022). Is there an upside to social withdrawal?       Considering well-being among socially withdrawn emerging adults. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 17, 3131-3149.

Coplan, R. J., & McVarnock, A., Hipson, W. E., & Bowker, J, C. (2022). Alone with my phone? Examining beliefs about solitude and technology use in adolescence. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 00(0), 1-9.

McVarnock, A., Cheng, T., Polakova, L., & Coplan, R. J. (2023). Are you alone? A review of measures of solitude in childhood, adolescence and emerging adulthood. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14.

McVarnock, A., & Closson, L. M. (2022). Subtypes of social withdrawal and academic adjustment in emerging adulthood. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 40(2), 352-367.

Closson, L. M., McVarnock, A., & Sanford, K. (2019). Social withdrawal and social surrogacy in emerging adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48, 717-730.

Zhu, J., McVarnock, A., Polakova, L., Xiang, S., Li, Y., & Coplan, R. J. (2023). Shyness and socio-emotional adjustment among young Chinese children: The moderating role of screen time. Behavioral Sciences, 13(9), 763.