Martin Day

B.Sc. (Hons) Dalhousie University, Ph.D. University of Waterloo
Postdoctoral Princeton University, Harvard University

Associate Professor

Office: SN2073
Phone: (709) 864-7667
Research Lab:
Google Scholar:
Affiliations: Social


Research Interests 

I study Societal Cognition. That is, I’m interested in how people make sense of societal problems and societal arrangements, and how people’s psychological reactions to societal conditions can have downstream effects on individuals. For example, when faced with societal problems, why don’t more people protest or actively attempt to change the system? One reason is that people are motivated to maintain the status quo and perceive it as fair, just, and legitimate. This is a major barrier to societal change. That said, there are limits to this motive, and research on societal cognition can provide insight into how to effectively engage in system change. My research on societal cognition spans a variety of topics and issues such as social and economic inequality, social mobility, ideology, decision making, and well-being. More information can be found on my Societal Cognition Lab website.

I also have secondary research and teaching interests in the application of behavioral insights from psychology (including “Nudges”) to improve programs, policies, and people’s everyday experiences.


I’m from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I completed my B.Sc. in psychology at Dalhousie University, and my Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Waterloo. My Ph.D. supervisor was Dr. Michael Ross. I was a Postdoctoral Researcher for two years at Princeton University where I conducted research with Dr. Susan Fiske and taught psychology for public policy students. I also spent a year as a College Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, where I was a member of Dr. Fiery Cushman’s Morality lab and taught psychology for undergraduate students. I joined the Department of Psychology at Memorial University in September 2015.

Select Publications

Genge, O., & Day, M. V. (2021). Explaining support for post-secondary educational funding for indigenous students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 53, 304–314.

Nadler, J., Day, M. V., Beshai, S., & Mishra, S. (2020). The relative deprivation trap: How feeling deprived relates to symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 39, 897-922.

Keshabyan, A., & Day, M. V. (2020). Concerned whether you’ll make it in life? Status anxiety uniquely explains job satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1123.

Davidai, S., Day, M., Goya-Tocchetto, D., Hauser, O., Jachimowicz, J., Mirza, M. U., … Tepper, S. (June, 2020). We have a rare opportunity to create a stronger, more equitable society. Behavioral Scientist.

Landy, J. F., Jia, M., Ding, I. L., Viganola, D., …The Crowdsourcing Hypothesis Tests Collaboration, & Uhlmann, E. L (2020). Crowdsourcing hypothesis tests: Making transparent how design choices shape research results. Psychological Bulletin, 146, 451-479. (Member of Hypothesis Tests Collaboration). 

Day, M. V., & Fiske, S. T. (2019). Understanding the nature and consequences of social mobility beliefs (pp.365-380). In Jetten, J., & Peters, K. (Eds.) The social psychology of inequality. Springer.

Day, M. V., & Fiske, S. T. (2017). Movin’ on up? How perceived social mobility affects willingness to defend the system. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 267-274.

Day, M. V. (2016). Why people defend relationship ideology. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33, 348-360.

Day, M. V., Fiske, S. T., Downing, E. L., & Trail, T. E. (2014). Shifting liberal and conservative attitudes using moral foundations theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40, 1559-1573.

Blatz, C. W., Day, M. V., & Schryer, E. (2014). Official public apology effects on victim group members’ evaluations of the perpetrator group. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 46, 337-345.

Day, M. V., & Ross, M. (2014). Predicting confidence in flashbulb memories. Memory, 22, 232-242.

Day, M. V., & Bobocel, D. R. (2013). The weight of a guilty conscience: Subjective body weight as an embodiment of guilt. PLoS ONE, 8, 1-7.

Kay, A. C., Day, M. V., Zanna, M. P., & Nussbaum, A. D. (2013). The insidious (and ironic) effects of positive stereotypes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 287-291.

Day, M. V., & Ross, M. (2011). The value of remorse: How drivers’ responses to police predict fines for speeding. Law and Human Behavior, 35, 221-234.

Day, M. V., Kay, A. C., Holmes, J. G., & Napier, J. L. (2011). System justification and the defense of committed relationship ideology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 291-306.