Joshua Bourdage originally wanted to study law but then he then discovered organizational psychology through one of his professors. Today, Bourdage is a professor at the U of C and runs a behavioural research lab.
Initially Bourdage wanted to pursue a legal degree but realized as an undergraduate that the path there didn’t need to be a straight line.
“I ended up sort of doing my research and saying ‘Okay you can apply to law school with a lot of different degrees,’” said Bourdage.
He discovered the psychology program through his statistics professor, and quickly learned that having a better understanding of human behaviour was appealing to him.
“Looking at the world through that lens, ‘Why do people do the things that they do?’ And realizing that psychology provides a lot of those answers and can provide a lot of practical solutions.”
Throughout his time studying at the University of Calgary, Bourdage became involved in the community by participating in volunteer work and founding the Student Leaders club in Calgary.
As a graduate student, Bourdage began to research influence and leadership, personality and individual differences, and the role that technology plays in interviewing.
“A lot of our work has been looking at both the drawbacks of the technology as well as how those can be used to the benefit and create a more equitable hiring landscape.”
Bourdage wanted to know more about people’s honesty and dishonesty, particularly with conducting interviews.
He said he wanted to understand the outcomes of ethical and unethical leadership and what that might look like in the workplace.
With personality and individual differences, he was most excited to be a part of his supervisor’s honors research which claimed that honesty was a personality trait.
“We broadly started to be able to explain all these types of behaviors better than we had been before,” said Bourdage. “And so, you feel like you’re making a real impact.”
Andrew Szeto, a colleague and mental health strategy director at the U of C, appreciates how Bourdage’s research could be used as a significant tool.
“His work on personal selection and looking at deception within interviews is quite important because we as employers or as people applying for interviews, want to pick the best people that we can and show that we want to portray ourselves the best we can,” said Szeto.
However, as much as Bourdage loved studying organizational psychology, he also shared a love of teaching. During his career Bourdage won an award for great supervision, the award he’s proudest of, as he wants his students to get the most out of his mentorship.
One of his undergraduate students, Kaitlyn Guenther, enjoyed bringing different thoughts to the table by having Bourdage as a professor and a mentor.
“Josh’s classes have always been more discussion based and based on getting to know everyone’s ideas in the classroom,” said Guenther.
Bourdage’s thought-provoking lessons led to the creation of the Obbi Lab—a website that he and his students put together where everyone can continue to share ideas and connect together. Bourdage describes the website as a place to work with partners and potential collaborators.
“Working with organizations, real organizations, on problems that matter to them, and a lot of how we recruit partners for that is through our website.”