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Published 10 October 2017

2017 Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Award in Social Sciences: Why we don’t take collective action against injustice

Dr Danny Osborne has been awarded the inaugural Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Award in Social Sciences for advancing understanding of the psychological barriers to collective action.

Rates of inequality are rising in New Zealand and around the world and, although inequality undermines the wellbeing of both the poor and wealthy, collective action to redress inequities is rare. Dr Osborne’s pioneering research increases understanding of the infrequency of protests by identifying the psychological barriers to collective action.

He has sought to understand what influence different belief systems have on legitimising social injustices, including:

  • what types of attributions do people make to justify their beliefs about economic inequality?
  • why do people accept concessions that ultimately reinforce the status quo?
  • when (and how) do people respond to unfair treatment?

His research examines New Zealanders’ socio-political attitudes and reveals the importance of fundamental psychological processes that undermine collective action, including:

  • basic needs for stability
  • beliefs about the ability to change social policies
  • culture-specific beliefs about the relevance of past injustices to contemporary inequities.

Dr Osborne’s publication record includes 71 peer-reviewed publications (60 articles and 11 book chapters) and he has supervised 29 postgraduate students. He has also been invited to speak at Parliament and workshops held by the Electoral Commission. Moreover, he is on the advisory board for Vote Compass (an online voter education tool) and is a core member of the central management team for the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study—a nationally representative longitudinal study that examines changes in New Zealanders’ attitudes over time.

The award selection committee noted his significant mentoring of research students and his community engagement in making this award.

image Danny Osborne 01 In the library Custom

Dr Osborne said he was “incredibly honoured” to be the inaugural recipient of the Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Award in Social Sciences.

“Given the rising rates of inequality and acts of injustice perpetrated across the globe, it is becoming increasingly important to understand both when people are likely to protest their disadvantaged status, and why they sometimes do not engage in collective efforts to redress inequality. I hope that my work in this area helps to uncover these two important questions, with the ultimate goal of increasing our understanding of how we can make the world a fairer are more equitable place.”

Dr Osborne is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland.  In 2017, he was part of the team that was awarded a Research Excellence Award, in 2016, he received the Dean’s Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching and in 2015, he received the Early Career Research Excellence Award from the University of Auckland.  In 2015, he also received the Early Career Research Excellence Award from the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists, and gave a keynote lecture at its 2015 conference. He also gave a keynote presentation in the University of Auckland’s Vice Chancellor’s Lecture Series in 2016.

Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Award in Social Sciences:

For emerging researchers in social sciences research in New Zealand.

Citation:

To Danny Osborne for his prolific research programme which has advanced understanding of the psychological barriers to collective action.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi