The overarching purpose of researchers in this area is to study how the knowledge, judgments, beliefs, and representations of an individual are affected by, or reflect, social construction processes. This research area includes two research programs that analyze social construction processes at different and complementary levels. The first program is specifically interested in the study of socio-cognitive mechanisms involved in the construction and expression of knowledge and judgments about the self and others. The second program studies the processes of elaboration, assimilation and transformation of knowledge as social beliefs and representations, based on topics constituting societal issues.
Research Program 1: Socio-cognitive regulation of knowledge about the slf and others
The main objective of this research program is to study socio-cognitive regulation mechanisms involved in the construction of knowledge and beliefs about the self and about others. Our research is based on social psychology and developmental psychology, and includes experimental and quasi-experimental, quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Our works encompass two major directions:
– A first direction is the study of processes regulating the acquisition of norms and the construction of identity. The goal is to study the elaboration of one’s identity (e.g. sexual identity), and conscience of others (theory of mind, empathy, understanding of emotions). This knowledge of the self and others is also questioned in terms of how skills related to assimilation of social skills and conventions are developed. Another focus will be processes related to the emergence of awareness (conscious awareness) of the normativity associated with certain behaviors or judgments.
– A second direction is the study of how social norms are mobilized in a given context. Norms related to social interaction and to language will be of particular interest, with a focus on adjustment processes in verbal interactions, the processing of verbal clues, and language-based discrimination in the judgment of others. We will also study the role of norms and social values in the construction of impressions and judgments about the self and others, with a focus on humanization/dehumanization processes in the context of a culturally valued model of the person, models of acculturation and their implications for acceptance or rejection of migrants, and models of justice and processes participating in determining legal sanctions when infringing legal norms.
Research Program 2 : Social representations and beliefs
In this research program grounded in the theory of social representations (Moscovici 1961, 1976), the individual is not viewed as an isolated entity, but rather as a person whose activity of perceiving and judging is necessarily mediated by significant others. The individual is not viewed as an irrational being who supports unfounded beliefs either, but rather as a person who co-creates and then supports collective meanings. The study of social representations makes it possible to address the contents (meaningful knowledge) and elaboration processes of this day-to-day knowledge, which is embedded in a social and cultural context in a particular timeframe.
The research works performed in this program therefore participate in an anthropology of contemporary society, and in the conceptualization of otherness and the making of social cohesion. To this end, we investigate social topics constituting societal issues, such as environment, risks, economic growth, nutrition, health, religion, homosexuality, and sex differences. While aiming to describe how these shared areas of knowledge are constructed and assimilated, we also endeavor to analyze the dynamics of social representations in the context of inter-group relations.