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Our research themes

Dramatic social changes

Social change can take many forms: natural disaster, disaster caused by human actions, changes at the political or legislative level. For example, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 are two events that can be considered as social change. Our research on social change aims at identifying and understanding the impact of social change on individuals. We focus in particular on the impact of social change on the psychological well-being as well as on the cultural identity and the clarity of cultural identity.

Recommended readings:

de la Sablonnière, R., French Bourgeois, L., & Najih, M. (2013). Dramatic Social Change: A Psychological Perspective. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 1, 253-272.

de la Sablonnière, R., & Usborne, E. (2014). Toward a social psychology of social change: insights from Identity Process Theory. In G. M. Breakwell, & R. Jaspal (Eds), Identity Process Theory: Identity, Social Action and Social Change (pp. 203-221)Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

de la Sablonnière, R., Tougas, F., & Lortie-Lussier, M. (2009). Dramatic social change in Russia and Mongolia: Connecting relative deprivation to social identity. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 40, 327-348.

Prejudices, racism and discrimination

Prejudices and racism are one of the primary research topics in Social Psychology due to their negative impact on individuals and social groups. Racism consisting explicitly of defending the premise of innate superiority of a particular group (for example, whites) over another (for example blacks or Native Americans) is less and less common. Moreover, this premise is more and more reprimanded in the society. Nevertheless, in the last years researchers are observing emergence of new forms of prejudices which are more subtle and not easily identifiable.  Therefore, researchers continue to take interest in studying all forms of prejudices and the consequences they have on relations between social groups.  

Recommended readings:

de la Sablonnière, R., Auger, É., Taylor, D. M., Crush, J., & McDonald, D. (2013). Social change in South Africa: A historical approach to relative deprivation. British Journal of Social Psychology, 52, 703-725.

de la Sablonnière, R., Usborne, E., & Taylor, D. M. (2011). Revivifier les langues autochtones meurtries: éliminer la discrimination systématique par l’enseignement. Dans L. Drapeau (Ed), Les langues autochtones du Québec: un patrimoine en danger (pp. 67-86). Québec: Presses de l'Université du Québec.

Cultural shock and identity changes

As an immigrant moves from one society to another, he is confronted with a culture that is different from the one he was born. This immigration process can lead to feelings of dismay, confusion, and conflict. In other words, he can experience cultural shock. However, as time goes by, he increasingly participates in the host culture and may come to have a sense of belonging in the new society. We are interested in understanding how immigrants come to identify with the new culture, and more specifically, we examine the process of identity integration and its consequences for individuals’ well-being.

Recommended readings:

Taylor, D. M., Usborne, E., & de la Sablonnière, R. (2008, 2012). L’éducation bilingue dans les collectivités autochtones pour une identité autochtone vivante. Encyclopédie du développement du langage et de l’alphabétisation (p.1-8). London, ON: Réseau canadien de recherche sur le langage et l’alphabétisation. Consulté sur

de la Sablonnière, R. (2007). « Désélectriser » le choc culturel : le malaise identitaire chez l'intervenant. Équilibre, 2, 38-41.

Amiot, C. E., de la Sablonnière, R., Terry, D. J., & Smith, J. R. (2007). Integration of social identities in the self: Toward a cognitive-developmental model. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 364-388.

Sense of threat (relative deprivation)

Relative Deprivation refers to the feelings of dissatisfaction, anger or resentment that can emerge within individuals and groups following a negative comparison to a contextually similar, yet distinct social target. These comparisons are made upon either social or temporal dimensions, looking at specific outgroups or periods in time respectively. Relative Deprivation has been a highly studied concept in social psychology, with purported utility in aiding our understanding of social movements, protest participation, political violence such as rioting, and social deviance. Focusing on the specific relationship between relative deprivation and social change, our research at the Université de Montréal has examined diverse populations to contribute to Temporal RD theory. By examining and observing the real participants of social change, from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and South Africa among others, it has been shown that establishing a clear historical perspective is crucial to appreciate the effects of temporal RD on the individual and collective well-being among those experiencing change. 

Recommended readings:

de la Sablonnière, R., Auger, É., Sadykova, N., & Taylor, D. M. (2010). When the “we” impacts how I feel about myself: Effect of Temporal Collective Relative Deprivation on personalwell-being in the context of dramatic social change in Kyrgyzstan. European Psychologist, 15, 271-282.

de la Sablonnière, R., Taylor, D. M., Perozzo, C., & Sadykova, N. (2009). Reconceptualizing relative deprivation in the context of dramatic social change: The challenge confronting the people of Kyrgyzstan. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 325-345.

Social identity

Individuals belong to different social groups, such as ethnic, religious or professional groups. Part of the way individuals self-define themselves according to different social groups to which they belong, consists of social identity. Social identity has several functions among which are guiding the thoughts and actions of individuals in everyday life.  In our research in social identity we are interested in the link between the clarity of social identity and psychological well-being. Having a clear social identity is a guarantee of a better psychological well-being, resulting in a reverse vulnerability to addiction, maladaptive behaviors and suicide. In our research, we try to identify the factors that contribute to clarifying social identities in contexts of dramatic social change and therefore to increase the level of psychological well-being. 

Recommended readings:

de la Sablonnière, R., Taylor, D. M., Pinard Saint-Pierre, F., & Annahatak, J. (2011). Cultural Narratives and Clarity of Cultural Identity: Understanding the well-being of Inuit Youth. Primitivism: A journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous community health, 9 (2), 301-322.

de la Sablonnière, R., & Tougas, F. (2008). Relative deprivation and social identity in times of dramatic social changes: The case of nurses. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 2293-2314.


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