Personality and Emotion Research Lab

At the Personality and Emotion Research Lab (PERL), our goal is to better understand the difficulties that people have in regulating or managing their emotions. Emotion regulation is what we all do to change emotions we would prefer not to have, increase emotions we want, and express emotions in a way that works for us.

Dealing with other people, managing stress, functioning at work, and simply getting through the day all require some degree of emotion regulation. Some people, however, struggle with emotion regulation difficulties on a chronic basis. People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and related problems (e.g., self-injury, suicide attempts, intense emotional pain) have an especially difficult time regulating their emotions. As a result, much of our research focuses on the types of emotional difficulties experienced by persons with BPD or those who self-injure.

At the PERL, we aim to understand what contributes to problems with emotion regulation and how we can help people improve emotion regulation through effective treatment strategies. One such effective treatment is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington. Our research includes basic laboratory studies of emotions and emotion regulation with clinical (e.g., persons with BPD) and non-clinical (e.g., students) samples, as well as treatment research designed to figure out how and why treatment strategies work. Our research is currently funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR).

The PERL is located in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, B.C., Canada. The Director of the lab is Dr. Alexander Chapman, a Professor, registered psychologist, and President of the DBT Centre of Vancouver.