My general interests are in social psychology and human motivation. My current research is mainly concerned with the social psychology of justice. In particular I have developed a structural model that provides a psychological analysis of variables that influence our judgement that an outcome is deserved or not deserved. The analysis also distinguishes between deservingness and entitlement and has implications for the way we perceive legitimacy. I have recently extended my research to to how different emotions are related to judgements of deservingness. I pioneered research on "tall poppies" or high achievers, focusing in recent research on emotions such as resentment and schadenfreude that relate to whether a tall poppy deserves their high position and how we feel when an undeserving tall poppy falls from grace.My past research over many years has been concerned with achievement motivation, motivation theory, expectations, values,cognitive consistency, cultural cringe, gender differences, attributional processes, prejudice, and the psychological impact of unemployment.
My professional career began in 1952 at the University of New England as a Lecturer and subsequently as a Senior Lecturer and then an Associate Professor. I took leave in 1958 to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, then returning to the University of New England in 1960. In 1967 I was appointed to the Foundation Chair in Psychology at the Flinders University of South Australia, now known as Flinders University. I retired in 2000 but continue to be active in research.
I have authored or edited six books and published over 230 articles in national and leading international journals, as well as many book chapters. The research is highly cited.
Fellow, ASSA; Hon. Fellow, APS; Hon. D.Litt, UNE; Hon. D.Litt, Flinders; Distinguished Alumni Award, UNE; Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, APS.