The science of stigma

Mitacs intern from Germany asking how perceptions of free will affect views of addiction

The issue has attracted researchers from multiple disciplines, including Danielle Benesch, who is examining how perceptions of free will could impact our response to the overdose crisis. Danielle, a Mitacs intern from the Universität Osnabrück in Germany, has studied free will and decision-making for years. She travelled to Canada this summer to work on a project, supervised by Professor Eric Racine of the Université de Montréal, to research the relationship between perceptions of free will and addiction.  

Their project has two goals: the first is to discover how people with addiction view their own decision-making abilities. The second is to determine what factors cause the general population to attribute free will to someone with addiction. Addressing both questions is an important first step in designing a successful treatment plan. The research team hopes that their inside-out and outside-in method will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities around addiction and public decision making. The team plans to publish a series of papers outlining public and personal perceptions of addiction that will contribute to the ongoing national conversation about the issue.

As for Danielle, she’s excited to be working with such an experienced and multidisciplinary team on a timely and pressing issue. She says, “To spend time thinking, reading and discussing this topic is such a gift. I get to hear the perspectives of sociologists, psychologists, and ethicists. We have input from all these disciplines, so our research has a chance to make a change that really matters.”

Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program. In addition, in the summer of 2019, Mitacs was pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.​

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities:


Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. By driving economic growth and productivity, we create meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.