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).  Nancy 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 Projects: 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 (SPN), Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Heterodox Academy (Viewpoint Diversity)

Google Scholar / SPN Directory / ResearcherID#: C-4522-2012

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


Fall Courses 2017

PSYC 2023: Research Methods

PSYC 2413: Social Psychology


Recent Conference Papers

Higgins, N. C., Thomson, S. J., & Buckle, K. (2018). “Am I clumsy, or was it slippery?”:  Differential activation of spontaneous trait and situational inferences in self perception. [To be] Presented at the 19th Annual Convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Atlanta, GA.

Higgins, N. C., O’Donnell, T., & Randall, H. E. (2017). Maintenance of unrealistic optimism when negative experiences are personally controllable:  An experimental investigation. Presented at the 56th New England Psychological Association Meeting, Newton, MA.   

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.

Buckle, K., Higgins, N. C., & Thomson, S. J. (2016). Spontaneous activation of causal inferences consistent with the self-serving bias: A probe recognition investigation. Presented at the 40th Annual Psychology Science Atlantic Conference, Université de Moncton, Moncton, NB.

Buckle, K., Maillet, J-C., & Higgins, N. C. (2016). Distinguishing between controllable and uncontrollable illnesses: Are optimists more clearsighted than pessimists? Presented at the 14th Annual Crossroads Interdisciplinary Health Research Conference, Dalhousie University Health and Human Performance Student Society, Halifax, NS.

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.


Refereed Publications

Charrier, M., Rascle, O., Higgins, N. C., Le Foll, D., Rees, T., Coffee, P., & Cabagno, G. (in review). Being one of us: Translating expertise into performance benefits following perceived failure.

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.

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, 2(4), 1-15. doi: 10.1177/2158244012470110 

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.  doi: 10.1080/10413200701805307

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.  doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2007.01.004

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.  doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2006.00249.x

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.  doi: 10.1080/00224540309598444

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.  doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9861.2002.tb00080.x

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.  doi: 10.2224/sbp.2001.29.1.49

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.  doi: 10.1177/00131649921970152

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.  doi: 10.2224/sbp.1999.27.3.221

Higgins, N. C., & Morrison, M. (1998). Construct validity of unsupportive attributional style: The impact of life outcome controllability. Social Indicators Research, 45, 319-342.  doi: 10.1023/A:1006910201412

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.  doi: 10.1023/A:1006865832297

Davison, A. J. & Higgins, N. C. (1993: Commentary). Observer bias in perceptions of responsibility. American Psychologist, 48, 585. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.48.5.584.a

Krebs, D., Denton, K., & Higgins, N. C. (1988). On the evolution of self-knowledge and self-deception. In K. McDonald (Ed.), Sociobiological perspectives on human development (pp. 103-139). New York: Springer-Verlag. [Refereed Chapter]

Dickinson, J., & Higgins, N. C. (1977). Release from proactive and retroactive interference in motor short-term memory. Journal of Motor Behaviour, 9(1), 61-66.  doi: 10.1080/00222895.1977.10735095