Pondering The Enormity Of The Universe: Opportunity For Self-Transcendence Or An Existential Threat?
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About The Author

Since graduating in 1999 I have published over 130 papers, and in 2018 I was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Scientists in Australia. A problem that I have examined throughout my career is: “Why do people resist apparently reasonable messages?” I focus on the psychology of how feelings of mistrust and threat can lead people to reject messages. These insights are then translated into concrete and do-able strategies for overcoming defensiveness. Specific examples include ARC-funded research on (1) why people embrace or resist scientific messages about climate change, vaccination, evolution, and so forth, (2) how people respond to gestures of reconciliation from transgressor groups (particularly apologies), and (3) what drives defensiveness in the face of group criticism and recommendations for change.

                       

Pondering The Enormity Of The Universe: Opportunity For Self-Transcendence Or An Existential Threat?

Staring up at a star-filled sky can be a powerful experience. The sheer enormity of the universe can be difficult for us to grasp. Taking the time to stop and wrestle with the vastness of it all, and our place within it, offers an opportunity for perspective. For some, this moment of perspective may present a powerful moment of self-transcendence, freeing us from the stresses of everyday life. For others, it may present as an existential psychological threat. Speaking broadly,...

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