Members of the Psychology of Sport and Leisure Activity (PSA) Lab study the psychological processes that facilitate optimal functioning in sport and in other leisure activities. The long-term objective of this research is to gain a better understanding of how personality, motivation, and self-regulation relate to each other and affect activity outcomes (e.g., well-being, performance).


  • 179 Extended Education
    Frank Kennedy Centre
    University of Manitoba
    Winnipeg, MB
    R3T 2N2

Areas of focus

The PSA lab conducts research with various populations (e.g., athletes, sports fans, exercisers, students), and use diverse research designs (experimental, cross-sectional, longitudinal) and statistical methods (analysis of variance, structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling)

Key Areas of Research

  • Passion
  • Savouring positive experiences
  • Self-compassion
  • Perfectionism
  • Perceptions of mental toughness
  • Coping with adversity

Current research projects

Responding to Positive Experiences

People differ in how they react when they experience positive events. In this line of research, we are studying the personality and motivation variables (e.g., passion, perfectionism) that predict the ways in which people respond to positive experiences, and the impact that these different responses have on well-being outcomes. As part of this research, we are conducting the Student-Athlete Well-being and Achievement Project, a SSHRC-funded study with collegiate athletes in which we are examining how responses to positive experiences in sport are related to motivational constructs and sport-related outcomes over the course of a season.

The Quadripartite Approach to Passion

Research in psychology has studied passion by relying extensively on the dualistic model of passion, which distinguishes between two varieties of passion: harmonious passion and obsessive passion. Our research is studying how within-person combinations of both passion dimensions interrelate to predict outcomes. This quadripartite approach focuses on four passion subtypes – pure harmonious passion, pure obsessive passion, mixed passion, and non-passion – and allows us to study if certain passion subtypes are associated with higher levels of optimal functioning than others.

Polyamorous Passion

How common is it for people to have multiple passions in life, and do those with multiple passions report higher levels of well-being compared to those with only one? The line of research is aimed at understanding the effects of being polyamorously passionate, and if there is an optimal number of passions people can have to maximize their well-being.

Primary investigator

Ben Schellenberg, PhD

Dr. Schellenberg’s research focuses on people’s favourite activities. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how people can engage in their favourite activities in a way that produces the most benefits (e.g., high levels of performance and well-being), while avoiding potential costs (e.g., conflict, burnout). He has focused most extensively on the construct of passion, and has examined how people’s experiences are affected by the extent to which their passion is harmonious and obsessive. Other topics that he is studying include savouring, self-compassion, coping, and perfectionism. He conducts research with various populations, including athletes, sports fans, exercisers, students, and gamblers.



Schellenberg, B. J. I., Sabiston, C. M., Vallerand, R. J., & Gaudreau, P. (in press). Passion among breast cancer survivors: A 12-month prospective study. Journal of Health Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105319860890

Schellenberg, B. J. I., & Gaudreau, P. (in press). Savoring and dampening with passion: How passionate people respond when good things happen. Journal of Happiness Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00114-w. Preprint is publicly available at https://psyarxiv.com/dwazk

Schellenberg, B. J. I., Verner-Filion, J., Gaudreau, P., Bailis, D. S., Lafrenière, M. -A. K., & Vallerand, R. J. (2019). Testing the dualistic model of passion using a novel quadripartite approach: A look at physical and psychological well-being. Journal of Personality, 87, 163-180. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12378