Pursuing the science of acting and living well

The Ethics & Wellbeing Hub, at The University of Melbourne, seeks to develop and integrate expertise across social, clinical, and developmental psychology, neuroscience, and decision making to better understand how benefiting others can also benefit the self. We seek to emphasize the importance of not only understanding how people are impacted by their social environments, but why the ways in which they interact with those environments matters for their own mental health.

The hub aspires to cultivate world-leading collaborative research on the psychology of morality and emotion. It brings together expertise in moral judgement and reasoning with expertise in emotion dynamics and emotion regulation, seeking to develop and integrate knowledge across social, clinical, and developmental psychology, as well as cognitive and social neuroscience.

The hub is innovative in its goal of linking the psychological study of morality and emotion processes. In doing so, it examines how benefiting others can also benefit the self and contribute to human flourishing and mental health. Hub researchers seek to develop an understanding of how acting ethically and experiencing wellbeing and personal meaning are intertwined. Taking seriously the interaction of the individual and their social context, it will generate new knowledge on how individual health and welfare interacts with the social and cultural environment, and on the central importance of ethical behaviour to human health.

Drawing on this framework, hub members will conduct basic and applied research that addresses key social issues, such as understanding the antecedents and consequences of human conflict and cooperation, uncovering the determinants of sustainable environmental behaviour and animal protection, revealing the sources of positive organizational culture and ethical business practices, tackling the intersection of values and psychological disorder, clarifying the most effective methods of emotion regulation and the temporal dynamics of mood, and probing the factors that impart a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Member of the hub work alongside a highly active, collaborative and internationally networked group of researchers centred in the School’s social psychology group. The group includes leading moral psychologists including Brock Bastian (animal welfare, happiness and depression, the social dimensions of pain), Simon Laham (moral reasoning, the psychology of war and conflict) and Nick Haslam (dehumanization, historical dynamics of morality). It contains a nucleus of emotion researchers, including Katie Greenaway (emotion regulation, social determinants of health), Peter Koval (emotion dynamics, experience sampling methods) and Luke Smillie (personality, emotion and wellbeing). The hub includes leading experts in positive behaviour change and sustainability, including Charles Abraham (promotion of positive health behaviour) and Yoshi Kashima (cultivating proenvironmental behaviour, collective self-regulation). It is also enriched by the contributions of eminent recurring visiting professors Sam Gosling and Scott Lilienfeld.

In addition to social and personality psychology researchers, the hub contains MSPS researchers in clinical psychology, lifespan developmental psychology and decision neuroscience. It also has strong research led connections through the University: to organisational behaviour researchers (Faculty of Business and Economics), positive psychologists (Melbourne Graduate School of Education), and health behaviour change experts (School of Population and Global Health). The Ethics & Wellbeing Hub is a unique initiative with a critical mass of researchers who will enable strong intellectual and social innovation.

Learn more about the Ethics and Wellbeing Hub at the University of Melbourne.

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