Collective Self Regulation New Problems and a Research Agenda

seminar presented by Associate Professor Winnifred R. Louis

12noon Friday 18 September 2015

Paul Barratt Lecture Theatre, UNE


Self-regulation is an important and difficult challenge, and individuals often fail to adhere to their goals - whether to write manuscripts and read more articles, or to resist the temptation to eat donuts or waste electricity.  Part of the reason for this is that we have many different goals, and these goals are attached to identities, which are salient at different times and may be contradictory.  But collective self-regulation is even more important, difficult, and arguably under-studied.  This talk addresses the agency and self-regulation of groups as a fascinating puzzle, with implications from managing climate change to reforming scientific reporting.  I will give a quick summary of my previous research on group norms (social rules or standards), highlighting how people wrestle with the complexity of the social world and the contradictory norms within and across groups.  These contradictory norms have implications for behaviour from healthy eating and sun protection to sustainability and political tactics. I will turn to how individuals and groups resolve norm conflict, focusing on the proposition that through internalisation some behaviours can come to feel more authentic and intrinsically motivated, and to be privileged over others.  I will then conclude with a more in depth focus on the mechanisms of norm conflict and change, looking at political radicalism, religious controversy, and collective harm-doing.


Winnifred Louis is an Associate Professor in social psychology at the University of Queensland.  Her research focuses on identity and decision-making, and on intergroup relations, collective action, and conflict.  She is the winner of numerous awards for research, teaching, and service, and has served as Associate Editor of Peace and Conflict: The Journal of Peace Psychology, Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, and The Australian Journal of Psychology as well as on the editorial board of the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, and Behavioural Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. She came to UQ in 2001 as a postdoctoral research fellow (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) and obtained a continuing position in 2005. Winnifred has received support from 3 lead-CI ARC Discovery grants and has published over 75 scholarly papers and book chapters.