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Research Streams

The SCOPE lab seeks to advance our understanding of how humans analyze non-verbal cues in face-to-face and digital interactions. The research undertaken in the SCOPE lab is multidisciplinary, intersecting the fields of perception, cognition, social psychology, criminology, and digital communication. The SCOPE lab is a bilingual and collaborative environment where students from diverse backgrounds are involved in data collection, conference presentations, and publications at all levels of training. We work with collaborators at the University of Ottawa (Charles Collin, Denis Cousineau), in Canada (Caroline Blais, Daniel Fiset, Université du Québec in Outaouais) and abroad (Bozana Meinhardt-Injac, KHSB Berlin, Germany). You can find below a general description of the lab’s main research streams.


Facial perception. Faces play an essential role in our social interactions because they convey a wealth of socially relevant information about a person’s identity, gender, ethnicity, emotional state, personality, etc. Understanding how humans process these cues is at the heart of what we do at the SCOPE lab. Currently, our focus is on understanding how unfamiliar faces become familiar. This project combines behavioural methods and eye movement recordings. This stream of research is supported by a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant to Dr. Boutet.


Changes across the lifespan. The SCOPE lab investigates how human development influences the processing of social cues conveyed by faces. We are exploring these changes both at the beginning (children) and end of the lifespan (seniors). Our work with seniors shows that our ability to recognize individuals we know starts to deteriorate as early as 50 years of age. We have also found that age-related declines in vision, and a failure to wear corrective eye lenses (glasses, contact lenses), aggravates these changes to face recognition.  We are now shifting our attention to studying how aging impacts recognition of the facial expressions of emotions.


Cyberpsychology. Our human interactions have been transformed by advances in technology and many of our social interactions are now taking place via digital platforms. The SCOPE lab investigates how humans adapt to this societal shift. How do we interpret the emotional tone of written messages in the absence of non-verbal cues? Do emojis play similar communicative functions as face-to-face emotional cues conveyed by the face or voice of an interlocutor?  How do users form first impressions of other users when communicating using email or text? This research is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant to Dr. Boutet.  

Research Methods. Professor Boutet’s interest and expertise in research methods manifest in the research that is being conducted at the SCOPE lab. One approach has been to adapt tasks developed for animals to measure basic cognitive functions (learning, memory and executive functions) in humans and vice versa. Other contributions include measurement of the psychometric properties of tests of facial identity recognition and the development of a new test for measuring recognition of facial expressions of emotions in older adults.


Other. Curiosity often drives the research questions undergraduate and graduate students choose to address for their thesis. As a result, research in the SCOPE lab is constantly evolving. One example is our research examining having a history of criminality influences how individuals are perceived and how their pain is interpreted. 

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