Associate Professor Michael Wenzel

My main research interests in social psychology relate to issues of justice and morality, intergroup relations, and compliance with laws and regulations. In the area of justice and morality, my research addresses the implications of wrongdoing and victimization in both interpersonal and intergroup contexts, from victim, offender and third-party perspectives, with a focus on processes of justice restoration and moral repair. For example, I am interested in the determinants and effects of punishment, revenge, apologies, and forgiveness and an offender's confession, shame and self-forgiveness. I also have an interest in processes of social change and collective action to advance justice. In the area of intergroup relations, I am interested in processes of reconciliation following intergroup wrongdoing, as well as social discrimination and tolerance between groups. For example, I have been studying how superordinate identities that encompass two groups affect the quality of their relationship. In the area of compliance, I am interested in the role of fairness perceptions, social identity, attributions of legitimacy to regulators and law enforcement agencies, and the interaction between norms and law.









 Dr Lydia Woodyatt

 My research interest is related to responses to transgressions, particularly from the perspective of offenders. The responses we have examined include self-forgiveness, self-punishment, defensiveness, responsibility taking, and emotions such as shame and guilt. I am interested in the outcomes of these responses in terms of justice and restoration of offenders, victims and communities. I am currently examining the motives that underlie these responses, especially the need for moral-social identity. Recently I have been examining the role of memory in these responses. I am also broadly interested in the intersection between social and clinical psychology, especially in areas related to coping, e.g. hope, self-compassion. As Director of First Year Studies (Psychology) I am also interested in research on psychological needs, coping, and resilience in relation to transitioning into and out of University.









Simon Bury
Recent PhD completion

My PhD project involved developing and testing a new conceptualisation of hope distinct from expectancy based models (e.g., optimism). My research has shown that hope is more than expectancy; that is, for those with a personal invested in the outcome, hope’s unique nature is in lower likelihood, arising when the outcome is possible, but not (necessarily) probable. My research also investigated the motivational and emotional benefits of a hope in lower likelihood.










Melissa de Vel-Palumbo
PhD candidate

My PhD research focuses on self-punitive responses to immoral behaviour, through a social-psychological lens. I am exploring the role of social/moral identity, emotions, and social goals to elucidate the psychological processes underlying self-punishment.

More broadly, I am interested in the psychological, social, and evolutionary drivers of moral behaviour; that is, why we do harm (violate norms) and good (follow norms) to others, and how we punish and/or forgive norm violators.


Mikaela Cibich

Clinical PhD candidate

My research focuses on the role of shame in social group processes and psychological wellbeing.


Farid Anvari
PhD candidate

In my research, I aim to explore the psychosocial determinants of whistleblowing (the reporting of ingroup wrongdoing to an external entity in order to change the wrongdoing behaviour). In particular, my focus is on how our group memberships can shape our cognition and behaviour when faced with wrongdoing committed by ingroup members. The lens through which I take this focus is the Social Identity Approach – an influential theory within psychological research pertaining to how the groups we belong to can influence our thoughts and actions.


Kymberly O'Neill
PhD candidate

I am a driven research social-psychologist with a passion for social justice. My aim is to use my knowledge of psychology, combined with my skills as a researcher, to improve social justice outcomes for disadvantaged people. In order to improve the circumstances for disadvantaged people it is essential that we understand the driving psychological factors associated with their societal position, and are able to develop programs and policies that effectively target the causes of disadvantage. My background in education programming with a focus on wellbeing inspired my research, which has now broadened to at risk groups generally.

I am currently investigating the dehumanisation of low status groups. Some groups within society are not given credit for the full range of qualities that we normally attribute to human beings, for example we may see them as less civil or less moral than humans should be. When this ‘dehumanisation’ occurs it can produce negative outcomes for group members. My research looks at how dehumanised group members are impacted, how it effects their relations with their group members, and what factors contribute to the negative outcomes experienced by dehumanised groups.


Cara Rossi
Clinical PhD candidate

As a clinical PhD candidate, I have an interest in issues related to social justice and clinical psychology. The focus of my PhD is in the area of restorative justice. In particular, I am interested in the interpersonal dynamics that affect restorative interactions after a transgression has occurred.


Joy Love
PhD candidate

My general interest is in human behaviour in group contexts and within organisations and social, economic and political systems.   I am interested in how an understanding of human behaviour in these contexts and systems can inform better social justice outcomes.  For my PhD I am investigating vision thinking and its role in identity formation.









Shannon DeSilva
Clinical PhD candidate 

My interest is in preventative healthcare through improving general psychological wellbeing.  In my PhD I am looking into how social identity, metacognitive strategies and other factors impact on first-year student wellbeing; and in turn, what can be done to reduce the severity of negative influences.






Anna Barron
Research assistant

I have an interest in both social psychology and women’s studies. My honours project looked at why people engage in online shaming.









Katherine Dunning
Honours student


My research interests in social psychology relate to collective action. For my honours thesis, I am investigating what factors may influence people to engage in online shaming. 







Quyen Tran
Honours student

I am interested in relationships and social psychology. My honours thesis focuses on whether individual differences in the need for value-affirmation motivate offender-victim engagement, and how this need makes a difference in a victim's forgiveness and an offender's self-forgiveness. 


Vanessa Maurici
Honours student

I am currently completing my honours thesis on whistleblowing.  Specifically, I am looking at how people react to the whistleblower.

Blake Quinney
Honours student

Last year (2016) I completed a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) with a second major in Philosophy.  My broad interests are social and moral psychology/philosophy.

My honours thesis will examine the function of shaming in an online shaming context.


Leah Smolarek
Honours student

 My research interests are broadly in the area of how people think about themselves and others in both a social and justice context. This year my honours thesis is on how forgiveness and self-forgiveness interact in the process of reconciliation, and how engagement between two people might affect this.


Cathryn Robinson
Honours student

 My interest in individual personal wellbeing has lead me to social psychology, with a focus on the positive outcomes that victims can gain from forgiveness, and offenders from self-forgiveness.


Completed PhD students

Simon Bury (Flinders University), "The psychology of hope", 2013-2017

Anne-Marie Coughlin (Flinders University), “Rumination, time and forgiveness: Are changes in thinking over time associated with the development of forgiveness?”, 2011-2015

Carmen Yap (Flinders University), “Why confess? The role of instrumental and symbolic motivations on confessions in an interpersonal context”, 2010-2015

Lydia Woodyatt (Flinders University), “Self-forgiveness as a restorative process following interpersonal transgressions”, 2009-2012

Completed Masters students

Ashleigh Ditcham, “Self-Compassion and peer mentoring in the transition to university”, 2015

Bartholomew Pawlik, “How self-compassion buffers affect: Perceiving social support or distancing the self from one’s problems?”, 2015

Completed Honours students

Anna Barron, "Understanding online shaming: A social identity approach", 2016

Loh Jia En Katherine, "Why do we name and shame?  Moral disengagement in online shaming", 2016

Shannon Desilva, “A new hope: Pursuing a new conception of hope (distinct from optimism) through the manipulation of uncertainty”, 2015

Joy Love, “Using imagination to raise hope and support for social change”, 2015

Cara Rossi, “Dealing with divergent narratives after a transgression”, 2015

Lauren Thomas, “Facing transgressions: Does memory bias drive barriers to reconciliation?”, 2015

Monica Detweiler, “Self-affirmation and values-affirmation: Which pathway enhances moral engagement in offenders?”, 2015

Lok Sze Helen Chan, “The effects of ulterior motives and representativeness on intergroup apologies”, 2014

Kymberly O’Neil, “When low status groups break down”, 2014

Jasmine Heynemann: System-justification theory and its effect on stigma and discrimination towards people with intellectual disabilities”, 2014

Ellie Aniulis, “The role of identity salience in intergroup apologies via the justice restoration model”, 2013

Amanda Kuchel, “The effects of interpersonal closeness on the motivation to confess”, 2013

Matthew Ferber, “Restoring offenders’ moral identity after an interpersonal transgression: Self-Compassion versus Values Reaffirmation”, 2013

Ben McLean, “Understanding and reducing defensive responses to values violations”, 2013

Simon Bury, “The influence of informal third-party responses on victim’s symbolic value concerns and forgiveness following a transgression”, 2012

Marie Dow, “Expression of shame in intergroup apologies and its effect on victim group forgiveness”, 2012

Karen Haynes, “Fostering genuine self-forgiveness and reducing self-punitiveness through value affirmation”, 2012

Kylie Pointon, “Prevention of anti-social behaviour: Genuine self-forgiveness and willingness to change”, 2011

Anne-Marie Coughlin, “To forgive, or not to forgive, that is the question: Are there psychological benefits for expressing forgiveness or unforgiveness depending on the addressee?”, 2010

Tegan Druce, “Forgiveness: Do victims fail to anticipate its benefits?”, 2010

Douglas Werchon, “Forgiveness as a pathway to justice in inter-group contexts”, 2010

Susan Heinrich, “The inter-relationship between forgiveness, justice and shared identity in retributive and restorative processes of justice restoration”, 2009

Kerry Pearce, “Deservingness, pain due to inferiority and schadenfreude: Does one experience schadenfreude for difference reasons intragroup and intergroup contexts?”, 2009

Luke Parsons, “Norms of diversity in intergroup relations”, 2008

Jasmin Turner, “Forgiveness and time: How changes in empathy and rumination account for changes in forgiveness over time”, 2008

Kyli Hedrick, “Requests for and refusals to grant an apology: Implications for offenders’ self-esteem”, 2007

Sally Polden, “Perceptions of justice as a mediator of the apology-forgiveness relationship”, 2007

Tarneem Sarkes, “Forgiveness and perceived justice”, 2007

Kate Cameron, “The function of punishment as a response to transgressions: A comparison of retributive and restorative justice processes”, 2006

Elsbeth Treacy, 2006, “What do victims seek from an apology? A study of how the relationship between victim and offender influences the meaning of an apology”, 2006

Kate Jackson, “The effects of pluralistic ignorance on the attributions of teenage passengers in peer reckless driving situations”, 2005

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