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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology

Elizabeth Canning

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016

Contact Information

Office: Johnson Tower 210
Phone: (509) 335-9127
Website: BOLD Lab

Classes Taught

  • Psychology 350: Social Psychology
  • Psychology 550: Social Psychology

Research Interests

  • Achievement motivation
  • Social inequality and diversity
  • Social-psychological interventions in education and organizations

Research in Dr. Canning’s lab focuses on how to create equitable and inclusive contexts that stoke motivation, persistence, and achievement—so that all groups flourish and reach their full potential. Our lab investigates subtle messages about belonging, value, talent, and ability that are communicated by institutions, employers, instructors, parents, and peers. These messages can be communicated verbally—in the form of lectures or one-on-one interactions—and nonverbally—by the materials, policies, and practices put forth by those around us. Some messages communicate the nature of ability (e.g. “only some people are naturally talented”) and some messages communicate what is valuable or useful (e.g. “this information will be important in your future career”). We also design and test interventions that mitigate or reinforce these messages to reestablish a sense of belonging, confidence, and engagement for stigmatized groups. This approach consists of controlled laboratory experiments, randomized intervention studies, and longitudinal, field studies. Our goal is to build social-psychological theory in the lab and translate that theory into practice with interventions in the field.

Dr. Canning will be considering graduate student applications for Fall 2024 admission to the Experimental Psychology PhD Program.

Selected Publications:

Canning, E. A., LaCosse, J., Kroeper, K. M., & Murphy, M. C. (in press). Feeling like an imposter: The effect of perceived classroom competition on the daily psychological experiences of first-generation college students. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Canning, E. A., Murphy, M. C., Emerson, K. T. U., Chatman, J. A., Dweck, C. S., & Kray, L. J. (2019). Cultures of genius at work: Organizational mindsets predict cultural norms, trust, and commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Canning, E. A., Priniski, S. J., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2019). Unintended consequences of framing a utility-value intervention in two-year colleges. Learning and Instruction, 62, 37-48.

Canning, E. A., Muenks, K., Green, D. J., & Murphy, M. C. (2019). STEM faculty who believe ability is fixed have larger racial achievement gaps and inspire less student motivation in their classes. Science Advances5(2): eaau4734. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4734

Canning, E. A., Harackiewicz, J. M., Priniski, S. J., Hecht, C. A., Tibbetts, Y., & Hyde, J. S. (2018). Improving performance and retention in introductory biology with a utility value intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(6), 834-849.

Harackiewicz, J. M., Canning, E. A., Tibbetts, Y., Priniski, S. J., & Hyde, J. S. (2016). Closing achievement gaps with a utility-value intervention: Disentangling race and social class. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology111(5), 745-765.

Tibbetts, Y., Harackiewicz, J. M., Canning, E. A., Boston, J. S., Priniski, S. J., & Hyde, J. S. (2016). Affirming independence: Exploring mechanisms underlying a values affirmation intervention for first-generation students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology110(5), 635-659.

Canning, E. A. & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2015). Teach it, don’t preach it: The differential effects of directly communicated and self-generated utility-value information. Motivation Science, 1, 47-71.

Harackiewicz, J. M., Canning, E. A., Tibbetts, Y., Giffen, C. J., Blair, S. S., Rouse, D. I., & Hyde, J. S. (2014). Closing the social class achievement gap for first-generation students in undergraduate biology. Journal of Educational Psychology106, 375-389.