This area includes research labs and scholars from the disciplines of exercise, health and sport psychology, skill acquisition and behavioral medicine. The research broadly examines the application of psychology to understanding and supporting healthy sport, physical activity and health behaviors, and incorporates a range of disciplinary perspectives and research designs, theoretical and methodological approaches.
The Cognitive and Functional Learning (LEARN) Laboratory: the purpose of the LEARN Laboratory is to examine factors that influence human motor development, learning, and performance, with a specific focus on factors related to cognition, functional activities of healthy living, and the development of knowledge across the lifespan. The overall goal of this research is to develop evidence-based tools, strategies, and standards for the development of healthy physical behaviour and expert performance across the lifespan. The LEARN Laboratory is a member of the Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Prevention Unit.
The lab is overseen by Dr. Peter R.E. Crocker. Current lab research combines a variety of interrelated areas within the realms of sport, exercise and health psychology. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, researchers are examining important practical and theoretical questions in the following areas: stress, coping and emotion in sport and physical activity; perfectionism and the stress process; motivation for sport and physical activity participation; self-compassion processes in athletes and older adults, physical activity and well-being outcomes; passion in sport; body image and identity, and self-conscious emotions in sport and exercise.
A quarter of Canadians report their lives to be quite or extremely stressful. Stress prevents people from engaging in physical activity and places them at increasing risk for chronic disease and early mortality via degradation of immune system function, alteration of protein synthesis through epigenetic pathways, and wearing down of biological and psychological stress pathways to disease. The vision for my research program is to understand how physical activity can mitigate these biological and psychological antecedents of disease to improve the health of Canadians and prevent disease development.
My research marries novel scientific discoveries and current state of the art technologies from adversity research, molecular biology, and exercise science to maximize our knowledge about physical activity as resiliency for optimal health. At present, our current understanding of habitual physical activity as resiliency to adversity is limited to observational findings. Intervention trials supplemented with laboratory-based stress manipulations and ambulatory psychological and biological assessments will broaden and deepen our understanding of the benefits of physical activity. The long-term goal is to develop an intervention strategy that combines digital health technologies and brief contact therapy to increase retention of participants and maintenance of habitual physical activity. By focusing on health promotion in high adversity communities, my research will help to reduce the burden on our health care system.
In the Motor Skills Lab. we study practice. Specifically, how to optimize practice to learn motor skills more effecitvely and/ or more efficiently. We commonly conduct laboratory experiments, with new learners, to determine how manipulations to practice variables (such as instruction, feedback, order of practice) impact on learning and transfer. These lab. tasks range from relatively novel, yet easy to acquire skills (adapting to new visual-environments, learning 2-handed coordination actions, key-press sequencing) to more "true-to-life" skills (kicking, throwing, juggling). We also learn about practice by studying people who are already skilled. Motor experts provide a rich source of information about practice histories and current practice habits to give insights into what practice entails to develop expert-like performance.
The Pop-PA lab conducts research incorporating a range of disciplinary perspectives and research designs, theoretical and methodological approaches in addressing three critical questions:
- What factors cause or prevent physical (in)activity and sedentary behaviour?
- How does participation in physical activity influence mental health?
- How are effective population-level physical activity initiatives designed, delivered and disseminated for public health?
The PEHPA Lab is overseen by Dr. Mark Beauchamp, who is an Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology (formerly Human Kinetics) at The University of British Columbia and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar (Population Health). Drawing from diverse disciplines (that include behavioural medicine, organizational psychology, and education) our program is concerned with (a) understanding both barriers to, and facilitators of, physical activity behaviour across the age spectrum, and (b) developing conceptually-sound evidence-based interventions that are cost-effective and sustainable.