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February 11, 2020

Did you know that February is psychology month? 

Did you know that at Mount Saint Vincent University we are fortunate to have an excellent psychology department

To celebrate psychology month, we’re pleased to highlight some of our amazing psychology professors and the interesting research they’re leading. 

Meet Dr. Michelle Eskritt-Keck

Michelle Eskritt KeckPsychology professor and researcher Dr. Michelle Eskritt-Keck didn’t always want to be a psychologist. She first wanted to be a teacher, but after taking an ‘introduction to psychology’ course, she was hooked. She highlights that a benefit of being a professor is that she’s able to fulfill her passions for both psychology and teaching – among her favourite courses to teach are Intro to Psychology and upper level Development courses.

Michelle’s research has longed focused on cognitive development. During her PhD, she studied the effects of note-taking on memory. She has looked at how children and youth develop their own notations to aid in memory and the influence of these notations on memory strategy. Today, she is studying how external written symbols affect cognitive processing in preschoolers and how they can be used to affect behaviour. With adults, Michelle has examined whether information learned online is interpreted and recalled differently than information learned from other sources like textbooks.

She also researches how people use nonverbal cues in communication. One study she conducted sought to determine if it was easier for people to detect lying in a face-to-face setting compared with an online setting. The study ultimately found no difference in participants’ ability to detect deception face-to-face setting compared to over the internet. 

Notes Michelle, “Another line of [my] research deals with children’s developing ability to integrate nonverbal communication with verbal information where I have collaborated with Kang Lee at the Institute for Child Study, University of Toronto. We first examined whether children could use various types of nonverbal cues (e.g. direction of eye gaze or pointing) to determine what another person wanted [Lee, Eskritt, Symons, & Muir, 1998]. We continued this line of research together and explored how children deal with messages where the verbal message is incongruent with the nonverbal message that a person communicates [Eskritt & Lee, 2003, 2009; Freire et al., 2004].”

Michelle hopes to continue to expand our understanding of human interaction, including through exploration of how the rise of social media affects interpersonal communication. As part of her current sabbatical, she will be continuing her research in Australia at the end of February where she will be collaborating with a speech language pathologist to develop a tool to aid professionals and other researchers in assessing emotional perception. 

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Windsor and a Master of Arts and PhD in Psychology from Queen’s University. Her research has been funded through MSVU, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.