Associate Professor Emma Thomas

Associate Professor

College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

place Social Sciences North
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate training in social psychology at the Australian National University. I was a Research Associate at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (ANU) before moving to Murdoch University in 2010 to take up a teaching and research position in the School of Psychology. I was an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awardee between 2012-2015. In May 2017 I moved to Flinders University to take up a position as Associate Professor in the School of Psychology. I am an Associate Editor at the British Journal of Social Psychology.


Bachelor of Arts - 2005 - the Australian National University

Bachelor of Psychology (Honours I) - 2005 - the Australian National University

Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology) - 2009 - the Australian National University

Honours, awards and grants

2016-2018 Discovery Project DP160101618 (lead by Assoc Prof Winnifred Louis, UQ), Australian Research Council

2016 Society for Australasian Social Psychology (SASP) Early Career Award.

2015 Murdoch University Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Early Career Research

2012-2014 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award DE120101029 (DECRA), Australian Research Council.

2010 Australian Psychological Society Excellent PhD Thesis in Psychology Award

Research expertise
Research interests

My research sits at the nexus of social and political psychology. I study how people and societies change and I believe that the two (personal and social change) are inextricably linked. As such, my research bears on topics of both theoretical and practical importance:

  • When and how do people respond to humanitarian injustice? My research shows that people will act collectively to support humanitarian aid when a motivating pattern of social identity, group emotions (especially outrage) and beliefs align through social discussion (Thomas & McGarty, 2009; Thomas, McGarty & Mavor, 2009; Thomas, McGarty & Mavor, 2016).
  • When will people take up arms (engage in violence) in pursuit of social change? I recently developed an experimental analogue of radicalization, showing that social interaction and legitimization can combine to promote political extremism (Thomas, McGarty & Louis, 2014).
  • What is the role of modern forms of communication technologies (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) in initiating social change? My research suggests that social media provide spaces where people can air, validate and reach agreement on their views and in doing so come to new self-understandings (form identities) relating to how they want the world to be (Smith, Thomas & McGarty, 2015; Thomas et al., 2015)
Topic coordinator
PSYC3235 Applications of Psychological Science
PSYC1107 The Psychology of Weird and Wonderful Ideas
PSYC3004 Advanced Social Psychology
Topic lecturer
PSYC3235 Applications of Psychological Science
PSYC3004 Advanced Social Psychology
PSYC1107 The Psychology of Weird and Wonderful Ideas

Find an expert

Search for experts by name, research, topic or role.

Filter by: