Why is research important? Psychology Professor Stephanie Griffiths explains

Psychology Professor Stephanie Griffiths is one of the instructors involved in OC's new Applied Bachelor of Arts: Community Research and Evaluation. Here, she describes how research encourages us to think differently in order to arrive at new perspectives.

Psychology instructor Steph Griffiths

Research helps us to make sense of the world by testing our predictions about how things work.

As a psychologist, I am most interested in how people think, feel and behave. As a graduate student, I learned how I could use research to be more helpful to people with various psychological issues. At that point in my training, I did some work in the correctional system in the Vancouver area, and most of the people I worked with had significant substance use issues. Even then, 15 years ago, it was clear that physicians and mental health clinicians working with these clients were struggling to find effective treatments for opioid dependence. They were also struggling to figure out how to prevent overdoses when addiction treatments were not effective.

Recently, the opioid crisis has intensified, highlighting the need for effective treatment. Some fascinating research in Vancouver suggests that a counterintuitive approach may work for some people who are dependent on opioids, and for whom other treatments have not worked. These clinical trials found that prescribing heroin to those addicted to it actually reduced heroin use and improved health.

Without a study like this, would we have had any way of knowing that free access to heroin can reduce how much someone will use? Probably not. I think this is why we need research – it forces us to set aside intuitive explanations or biases and explore possibilities, even unlikely ones. What this means is that research can lead us to an understanding of people that we would not arrive at on our own.


Find out more

Learn more about the Applied Bachelor of Arts at the online information session on Feb. 16.  And meet ABA faculty members like Olivia Sullivan, Stephanie Griffiths and Priscillia Lefebvre during an online panel discussion Feb. 23.  Register for these sessions here. 


Oviedo-Joekes, E., Brissette, S., Marsh, D. C., Lauzon, P., Guh, D., Anis, A., & Schechter, M. T. (2009). Diacetylmorphine versus methadone for the treatment of opioid addiction. New England Journal of Medicine361(8), 777-786.

Published By College Relations on February 8, 2021

Applied Bachelor of Arts: Community Research and Evaluation

Study the social sciences and liberal arts through applied learning, including a field experience and a significant capstone research project. This innovative program prepares graduates to contribute solutions to regional issues and to access further studies in the Master of Social Work at UBC Okanagan.

Explore the degree