Social Psychophysiological Research & Quantitative Methods Laboratory

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Social psychophysiology

Areas of expertise

The Social Psychophysiological Research and Quantitative Methods Laboratory studies the way the body reacts during social interactions. We specialize in measuring the physiology of multiple people at once, which lets us examine processes like the natural synchronization of people’s physiological responses during social interactions.

In many of our experiments, two to eight participants come to the lab at once and are connected to physiological equipment. Our equipment can measure activity of the heart, lungs, circulatory system, skin, and hormones. We also record audio and video of the social interactions to code behaviour. Trained researchers watch the physiological and audio/visual signals as they are being recorded on a multi-screen display wall in a Control Room in the lab to ensure quality. We analyze the incoming signals from different participants to see how much their bodies change when they come together.

We are trying to understand questions like: How does physiological synchrony occur? Does physiological synchrony relate to how much interaction partners like each other? Do we synchronize more with friends than strangers? Does physiological synchrony relate to how well people can work together?

Research services

Our lab provides consulting in the form of methodological workshops on statistics (e.g., multilevel modelling, Bayesian Hypothesis Testing, R statistical package) or psychophysiology, psychophysiological lab setup, and advanced statistical analyses. We developed and released an open-source tool, ExperienceSampler, that allows researchers to develop smartphone apps that conduct a methodology called experience sampling. We have also conducted outreach events focused on spreading open science practices.

Sectors of application
  • Education
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Information and communication technologies and media
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Management and business related services
  • Policy and governance
Name of equipment in useDescription of function
BIOPAC BioNomadix Physiological Systems8 sets of lab physiological devices that measure electrocardiography, impedance cardiography, and electrodermal activity
Sanyo SuperLow FreezerStores saliva samples in an archival manner at -80ºC
VU-Ambulatory Monitoring System4 ambulatory devices that conduct impedance cardiography