Our research aims to understand when and why people deliberately engage in behaviours that are physically harmful to themselves. Our work examines a variety of risky behaviours, including non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicidal behaviours, disordered eating, substance use, and aggressive behaviour. Below, you can find more information about our current methods, including our micro-longitudinal studies, developmental studies, and laboratory-based studies. 

Micro-longitudinal Studies

In order to understand when and why different behaviours occur, we need to directly observe those behaviours in their natural contexts. Micro-longitudinal studies use a variety of technologies, including smartphone-based surveys, passive monitoring and wearable biosensors, to understand behaviours as they unfold in real-time and in real life. Prof. Turner is currently involved in several projects examining the social, cognitive and emotional contexts that increase risk for suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury during and following inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Future projects will expand this work to examine real-life patterns of risk-taking in college students.

Developmental Studies

Developmental studies are important for understanding dynamic trajectories of risky behaviours across the lifespan. For instance, we know that many risky behaviours begin in adolescence. While some youth develop long-standing problems related to these behaviours, many others are able to stop them with little formal intervention. Our current research uses epidemiological surveys and accelerated longitudinal designs to understand the onset, course, and offset of risky behaviours during key developmental transitions.

Laboratory Studies

Understanding the contingencies that promote and deter risky behaviours has important implications for developing treatments to reduce these behaviours. Our research uses laboratory-based studies to closely examine the impact of these contingencies on emotional, physiological and behavioural responses. Our lab studies typically include a clinical interview, psychophysiological monitoring, and a variety of computer-based tasks.