Professor Listing

bdyson

Ben Dyson, PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons)

Associate Professor

Arts

Psychology

About Me

I graduated from York University, UK, in 2002 after completing my thesis on auditory cognition and went on to a postdoctoral fellowship position at the Rotman Research Institute, Canada (2002-2004) to learn about event-related potentials (ERPs). My first academic position was at the (then) Department of Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK (2005-2008). I returned to Canada to work at Ryerson University, Toronto for six years (2008-2014). I then returned to the (now) School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK (2015-2018), only to come back to Canada to work (and hopefully stay) at the University of Alberta in Summer 2018.


Research

There are a number of serious and playful situations where an organism must repeatedly compete with others for mutually-exclusive outcomes: there will be only one Prime Minister or President, only one winner at Blackjack, only one bird able to forage nectar from any given flower. Across these difference domains, there will be differing proportions of skill and luck that should determine the extent to which we take responsibility for the outcomes we experience: in a strategic environment we must know when our losses were due to lack of knowledge about our opponent and know to do better; in a random environment we must know when our wins were due to luck and know not to make too much of it. My research examined how competitive states are represented in the brain, and how these initial states serve as a catalyst in determining future behaviour. Many of our studies involve individuals playing simple competitive games against different kinds of opponents, as a controlled way to study these mechanisms. Outside of the laboratory, we think about the implications of this research for individuals exhibiting problem gambling and the ownership of negative thoughts that are often at the heart of generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 


Teaching

Fall 2018 – PSYCO 258 X01 (Cognitive Psychology)

Winter 2019 – PSYCO 104 B2 (Basic Psychological Processes)