François Vachon is a Professor in the Social Sciences Faculty at the School of Psychology at Université Laval.
1. Why does cognitive psychology interest you?
During a college psychology class, I was fascinated by how our brain could perceive and organize what is happening around us and how the result of this analysis could, in a very unconscious way, shape our way of thinking and making decisions. Research in cognitive psychology offers me the tools to allow me to discover the various manifestations of these influences on our behavior as well as to better understand their origin as well as their mechanism (s) of action.
2. In your career, which project has you most passionate about?
More than just a project, I'd say it's my distraction research program that excites me the most. I am very interested in these stimulations to which we do not pay attention but which nevertheless influence our behavior. Because our ears can not block ambient sound stimulation, our mental functioning becomes particularly vulnerable to the presence of irrelevant sounds. In my work on auditory distraction, I believe that the most fascinating results show that there are many ways in which sounds can disturb us and that even if a higher level of concentration can guard against certain forms of distraction, others are simply unavoidable.
3. What aspect of your field of research is particularly impressive?
What impresses me the most is how the knowledge we acquire from rather simple (and sometimes insignificant) laboratory tasks can help us to improve the lot of people in real contexts and much more complex. Indeed, our understanding of the human cognitive limits and the conditions in which they manifest themselves can be very useful for the development of solutions (eg, cognitive support technology, cognitive training, modifications to the work environment, etc.) to reduce the worker's mental burden and minimize the risk of missteps.