Menzies Health Institute Queensland 2016 Seminar Series - Associate Professor Melanie Dirks

Menzies Health Institute Queensland 2016 Seminar Series - Associate Professor Melanie Dirks

Principal speaker

Associate Professor Melanie Dirks

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Seminar Title: Incorporating Context into the Conceptualization and Measurement of Youth Social Competence


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Social competence, or effectiveness in interpersonal interactions, plays a critical role in the maintenance of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology in youth, and is a key target for interventions. For this reason, it is essential that reliable and valid measures of this construct are developed. 

In this Seminar, Associate Professor Dirks will discuss on-going work in her research lab, which examines how adolescents respond to peer provocation and victimization. She will particularly focus on the definition and measurement of social competence with respect to: 

- key social situations; and

- from the perspective of important people in youth's social environments. 

Associate Professor Dirks will demonstrate that the effectiveness of a given response to peer provocation may depend upon characteristics of the individual enacting it.  Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of moving away from a “one size fits all” model of social-skills training to a more contextualized approach that considers “what works for whom, and when?”

Melanie Dirks is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. She earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Yale University and completed her clinical internship at the Institute for Juvenile Research, University of Illinois at Chicago, and her post-doctoral training at the Offord Center for Child Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. Her research focuses on developing our theoretical understanding of youth social competence, and working within this framework to advance understanding of the role of interpersonal behavior in the onset and maintenance of youth psychopathology, with a focus on internalizing symptoms. 


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