The first couple years of university can bring tough decisions about what field to pursue. For Dr. Beverley Fehr, a social psychology class in her third year clarified the decision.
Fehr started university as a music major with the University of Winnipeg (U of W) and Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC). She would bus to MBBC to take music classes while taking psychology at U of W.
It soon became obvious psychology was more of a passion than music when those classes – namely social psychology – piqued her interest more and she got better grades.
After teaching for 29 years, Fehr won the U of W’s Clifford J. Robson Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence for 2015. In a news release, the awards committee says they picked Fehr based on her passion for social psychology, her engaging teaching style and the deep respect she earns from her students.
“Being around university students is my favourite part of my job. There’s something about university students, they’re high energy and lots of fun,” Fehr says.
One project Fehr is currently working on is looking at men’s and women’s same-sex friendships.
“I’m looking at the kinds of activities that people do with their friends and how beneficial it is to their friendships. For example, research shows that men tend to play and talk about sports and computers with their male friends and they tend to not open up very much about personal things,” she says.
The lab has men play virtual sports on the Nintendo Wii and participate in a self-disclosure exercise where they share more about thoughts and feelings. These situations are compared to see which is most beneficial for friendships.
“We are also looking at women doing some of the things that men do with friends, like an activity, because women tend to sit and talk with their friends. We want to see if this will benefit their friendship,” she says.
This year, Fehr says she is looking forward to doing her research, cleaning her labs and, most of all, teaching the class that originally captivated her interest – social psychology.
AGE: I’ll say I am of a timeless quality.
AREA OF RESEARCH: Close relationships.
PUBLICATION STATS: 33 journal articles, 29 book chapters and eight books.
LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: B.
MEANING OF LIFE IN SHORT: Connection to other people.
STUDENT PET PEEVE: Texting in class.
SUPERPOWER: Pippi Longstocking’s super strength.
Published in Volume 70, Number 4 of The Uniter (October 1, 2015)