Dr. Nancy C. Higgins



B.A. (St. Francis Xavier), M.A., Ph.D. (Simon Fraser)


Department of Psychology, St. Thomas University

Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5G3 Canada



Office and Lab Information:

Edmund Casey Hall, Room 227 (Office)

Edmund Casey Hall, Room G15-A (Social Cognition Lab)

Phone: (506) 452-0415    Fax: (506) 450-9615

E-mail: (put this) nhiggins (and this) @stu.ca (together) - cuts down on spam

Research Interests

Social Psychology, Social Cognition (attribution theory, attributional styles, risk perceptions, helping behaviour, optimism).  N. C. Higgins, Ph.D., is currently Professor in the Department of Psychology at St. Thomas University, a secular liberal arts university in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. She completed a Ph.D. in social psychology and an M.A. in physiological psychology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, and a B.A. at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. Dr. Higgins was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Her research emphasis is in attribution theory and person perception, examining attribution processes in social, health, and achievement behavior. Current research interests: attributional feedback effects on performance; spontaneous trait inferences; experience effects in unrealistic optimism; reactions of observers to those in chronic pain. 

Member:  Social Psychology Network, Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Google Scholar / SPN Directory /


ResearcherID#: C-4522-2012

Founding Member, B.C. Society for Skeptical Inquiry (Skeptics stuff: here and here)


Winter 2017

PSYC 2023: Research Methods

PSYC 3413: Advanced Social Psychology


Recent Conference Papers

Higgins, N.C., Charrier, M., Rascle, O., Coffee, P., Rees, T., & Le Foll, D. (2016). Post-failure attributional feedback from an ingroup expert improves sport performance. Presented at the 77th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Victoria, BC.

Higgins, N. C., Scheidler, A., & Vipond, D. (2014). The effects of experience on unrealistic optimism. Presented at the 54th New England Psychological Association Meeting, Lewiston, ME.

Crump L., LaChapelle, D.L., Higgins, N.C., Harman, K., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2014). Impact of responsibility attributions and patient gender on nurses’ and nursing students’ emotional responses and willingness to help patients with chronic low back pain. Presented at the 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Canadian Pain Society, Quebec City, PQ.

Higgins, N. C., Bennell, J., Daponte, D., Michaux, A., Wang, Y., Vipond, D., & Uleman, J. S. (2013). Proactive interference (PI) effects of spontaneous trait inferences:  Evidence from two classic PI designs. Presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), New Orleans, LA.

Bennell, J., Higgins, N. C., Daponte, D., & Vipond, D. (2012). Examining spontaneous trait inferences using retroactive and proactive interference. Presented at the 73rd Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, NS.

MacArthur, H., LaChapelle, D. L., Higgins, N. C., Harman, K., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2012). Does sex matter? Health professionals’ perceptions of patients with chronic pain. Presented at the 73rd Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, NS.

Lavoie, S. P., LaChapelle, D. L., & Higgins, N. C. (2012). Impact of patient and observer characteristics on perceptions of women with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Presented at the Canadian Pain Society Annual Conference, Whistler, BC.

Higgins, N. C. & Zumbo, B. D. (2010). Factorial construct validity of the Reasons for Misfortune Questionnaire. Presented at the 22nd Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Boston, MA.

LaChapelle, D. L., Higgins, N.C, Harman, K. & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2010). Impact of patient coping style and physical evidence of injury on nurses’ perceptions of rehabilitation patients with low back pain. Presented at the International Association for the Study of Pain 13th World Congress on Pain. Montreal, PQ.


Selected Publications

Bailey, S.J., LaChapelle, D. L., Higgins, N. C. (in progress). How dare they? Judgements of responsibility and injustice in the assessment of a soldier’s pain.

Higgins, N. C., Vipond, D., & Scheidler, A. (in progress). Experience effects on comparative risk estimates.

Charrier, M., Rascle, O., Coffee, P., Rees, T., Higgins, N. C., & Le Foll, D. (in progress). Attributional feedback efficacy as a function of perceived expertise and status of the source.

Wang, Y., Higgins, N. C., Uleman, J., Michaux, A., & Vipond, D. (2015). An interactive activation and competition model of person knowledge, suggested by proactive interference by traits spontaneously inferred from behaviours. British Journal of Social Psychology, 55(1), 126-143. doi: 10.1111/bjso.12119

Rascle, O., Le Foll, D., Charrier, M., Higgins, N. C., Rees, T., & Coffee, P. (2015). Durability and generalization of attribution-based feedback following failure: Effects on expectations and behavioral persistence. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 18, 68-74.  doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2015.01.003

Higgins, N. C., Bailey, S.J., LaChapelle, D. L., Harman, K., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2014). Coping styles, pain expressiveness, and implicit theories of chronic pain. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 149(7), 737-750. doi:10.1080/00223980.2014.977759

LaChapelle, D. L., Lavoie, S. P., Higgins, N. C., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2014). Attractiveness, diagnostic ambiguity, and disability cues impact perceptions of women with pain. Rehabilitation Psychology, 59(2), 162-170.  doi: 10.1037/a0035894

Higgins, N. C. & LaPointe, M. R. P. (2012). Academic attributional style predicts behavioral persistence under failure: Factor structure and predictive validity of the Academic Attributional Style Questionnaire. Sage Open (Psychology), 2(4), 1-15.

Rascle, O., Le Foll, D., & Higgins, N.C. (2008). Attributional retraining alters novice golfers’ free practice behavior. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(2), 157-164.

Le Foll, D., Rascle, O., & Higgins, N.C. (2008). Attributional feedback-induced changes in functional and dysfunctional attributions, expectancies for success, hopefulness, and persistence in a novel sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9, 77-101.

Le Foll, D., Rascle, O., & Higgins, N.C. (2006). Persistence in a putting task during perceived failure: Influence of state-attributions and attributional style. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 55, 586-605.

Higgins, N.C., & Hay, J. (2003). Attributional style predicts causes of negative life events on the Attributional Style Questionnaire. Journal of Social Psychology, 143(2), 253-271. 

Lundquist, L.M., Higgins, N.C., & Prkachin, K.M. (2002). Accurate pain detection is not enough: Contextual and attributional style biasing factors in patient evaluations and treatment choice. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, 7(2), 114-132.  

Higgins, N.C., & Bhatt, G. (2001). Culture moderates the self-serving bias:  Etic and emic features of causal attributions in India and in Canada. Social Behavior and Personality, 29(1), 49-61. 

Higgins, N.C., Zumbo, B.D., & Hay, J. (1999). Construct validity of attributional style: Modeling context-dependent item sets in the Attributional Style Questionnaire.  Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59, 804-820. 

Higgins, N.C., & Shaw, J.K. (1999). Attributional style moderates the impact of causal controllability information on helping behaviour. Social Behavior and Personality, 27(3), 221-236. 

Higgins, N.C., & Morrison, M. (1998). Construct validity of unsupportive attributional style: The impact of life outcome controllability. Social Indicators Research, 45, 319-342

Higgins, N.C., St Amand, M.D., & Poole, G. A. (1997). The controllability of negative life experiences mediates unrealistic optimism. Social Indicators Research, 42, 299-323. 

Davison, A. J. & Higgins, N. C. (1993: Commentary). Observer bias in perceptions of responsibility. American Psychologist, 48, 585.