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Welcome to the Motivation and Academic Achievement (MAACH) Research Laboratory. The MAACH Research Laboratory conducts research based in social cognition theory under the direction of Dr. Raymond P. Perry at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

This website provides information on what research is being conducted by members of the lab, information on lab members, and selected publications from the MAACH Research Laboratory.

Dr. Raymond P. Perry, Lab Director

In collaboration with colleagues, I study how people overcome personal failures, health crisis, age-related vulnerabilities, and the stigmatization of others. My work is guided by the premise that people seek to make sense of their personal experiences, and in so doing, engage in explanatory thinking (casual thinking). The recurring theme is that dysfunctional explanatory thinking predicts maladaptive outcomes that include academic failure, poor health, longer hospital stays, and mortality.

The same dysfunctional mind-sets that lead to cognitive, emotional, and motivational deficits in young adults can also contribute to psychological and physical impairment in older adults. Whether focusing on youth coping with failure, on the motivations of people who stigmatize others, or on older adults struggling with cognitive and physical deficits, my research targets the liabilities of dysfunctional causal reasoning.

To ameliorate maladaptive mind-sets, congitive treatment interventions have been developed to improve the emotional and psychological well-being of vulnerable individuals in a variety of settings. Giving these treatments to people suffering the vicissitudes of old age can help them adapt to onerous life circumstances. In competitive achievement settings, such treatments can improve the psychological and emotional well-being of failure-prone students and produce marked improvements in grades throughout their undergraduate years. In practical terms, such treatments can be instrumental to young adults persisting in their academic programs and embarking on more productive career paths.

Research Focus

Perceived Control
A main focus of research in the MAACH laboratory is the effects and nature of primary control (wherein an individual seeks to maintain a feeling of control by effecting changes in the environment) and secondary control (wherein an individual seeks to maintain a feeling of control by adjusting the self). The nature of these processes has been heavily debated, and the MAACH laboratory seeks to better understand these processes through empirical research conducted primarily with an undergraduate student population.

Attributional Retraining
The MAACH laboratory has also been involved in developing and studying an intervention called Attributional Retraining (AR). AR aims to encourage a greater use of beneficial (generally primary control) attributions, and therefore increase motivation and feelings of control in students who may otherwise have continued to experience academic failure. This has shown to be an effective intervention in improving student performance. A version of this intervention is currently being adapted for administration to first year psychology students in blended learning environments at the University of Manitoba.

Academic Acievement: The Paradox of Failure
Every year, there are a large number of very successful high school students that find themselves failing in university. Some of these students even drop out, despite appearing to have great potential upon entering university. In fact, it had been suggested that of every 100 high school students in Grade 11, no more than 14 will graduate after five years of university. This phenomenon where bright, enthusiastic high school students become college drop-outs has been called a paradox of failure. One of the broad research aims of the MAACH laboratory is to examine the potential reasons for this phenomenon. Social cognition theory is used to frame research focused on examining studentsí motivation and affective reactions to the university experience.

Psychology Department

University of Manitoba