• The University of Western Australia (M304), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

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Personal profile

Research interests

 

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychological Science whose research interests lie at the intersections of social, environmental and discursive psychology.

 A primary theoretical focus of my research has been the role of moral processes in attempts to bring about the fundamental societal and institutional changes necessary to avert the potentially disastrous consequences of environmental degredation, especially anthropogenic climate change.  My research targets this agenda across three levels of analysis.  Firstly, I explore moral processes at the institutional level by examining the psychological and behavioural implications of authorities implementing different forms of policies designed to change behavior. My past work has shown, for example, that different types of policies, and their framing, invoke different models of moral understanding and behavioural responses. For example, in recent work we have shown the the 'warm glow' of recycling schemes can potentially make people more wasteful if communications surrounding their implementation are not carefully managed. Secondly, I investigate processes of morality at the societal level by analysing circulating (social) media and political discourses and the social network structures through which they diffuse. Finally, at the interpersonal level, I explore how the morally normative status (or lack thereof) of environmental issues manifests in people’s reactions to interpersonal confrontations of environmental disregard and also the ways in which social identities are formed and negotiated with regards to moralised minority practices. I am interested in understanding the implications of both processes in relation to their potential to empower or inhibit societal change towards environmental sustainability.

My current work is also focussed on understanding the role of moral processes in relationships between humans and non-human animals. This relates to contexts both in which animals are used for human purposes (such as agriculture) as well as contexts in which animals have a free-ranging existence. I am particularly interested in the moral complexitites that emerge from situations in which free-ranging animals come into contact with humans in ways that create conflict (both between humans and non-human animals, and between different groups of humans). Street dogs in India represent a fascinating (and morally complex) empirical example. Such conflicts are also important and consequential to both the potential health implications for humans (such as zoonotic diseases like rabies) and the welfare implications for non-human animals.  I am currently exploring such questions in the context of human-street dog interactions in India as part of a large, international, interdisciplinary project (ROH-Indies) funded by The Wellcome Trust. 

Another area of my research interest has investigated the social construction of gender. My work in this area has focussed on the complexities of theorizing concepts such as ‘choice’, ‘agency’ and ‘empowerment’ in the context of a range of post-feminist public health dilemmas (e.g., infant-feeding, body image/cosmetic surgery and recreational activities associated with what has been termed ‘raunch culture’, such as recreational pole dancing). I have also explored the ways in which gendered identities are made relevant within the context of political leadership (and followership). 

 

Biography

I joined the School of Psychological Science at UWA in March 2020 after 10 years working in the United Kingdom at the Universities of Exeter (2010-2015) and Bath (2016-2020).  Prior to this I had held a lectureship at Murdoch University, (2006-2009), which I took up after completing UK-based postdoctoral research posts at Queen's University Belfast (2004-05) and Newcastle University (2005-06).

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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