Psychology: Posts

June Author of the Month: Naomi Ellemers

Naomi Ellemers, author of Morality and the Regulation of Social Behavior, is our Routledge Psychology Author of the Month for June! Read our exclusive interview and learn more about her fantastic new book!

"Groups are immensely important. They impact on the way we perceive ourselves and others, and affect our behavior in the social world. The groups we are born into, compete with, and aspire to, shape our sense of belonging and self-worth."

This book is the result of many years of work. I decided to write it because I wanted to explore how the scientific research I have been involved throughout my working life can help understand what happens in the world today. In this sense, it reflects my personal motivation to work as a researcher in social psychology: to do the science that can help make sense of issues we confront in our lives.

Groups are immensely important. They impact on the way we perceive ourselves and others, and affect our behavior in the social world. The groups we are born into, compete with, and aspire to, shape our sense of belonging and self-worth. Group norms and characteristic group values guide the decisions we make and the priorities we set in our work and our personal lives. Shared moral values bind together social communities and determine political and business decisions that affect us all.

Unlike other accounts, I do not see the group as a source of corruption that leads astray well-intentioned individuals. Instead, I aim to unravel the psychological mechanisms through which groups come to define their shared moral values, and to understand why group morals – regardless of how we evaluate them- constitute such a powerful motivational guideline for individuals.

Many attempts to understand and change behaviors that damage individual well-being or undermine social cohesion focus on separate individuals and the rational choices they supposedly make in maximizing their own outcomes. In this book I take a different approach, by explicitly considering social groups as an important source of moral values, and examining how this impacts on individual as well as collective behaviors.

My current mission is to connect insights from different disciplines and to develop new research methodologies to better understand the way people work together and live together in families, communities, and organizations. Expanding existing knowledge in this way and making available these insights to a broader (non-scientific) audience to elucidate how social science can help address real life problems and inspire evidence-based policy recommendations are important goals I want to work on during the next years.
Naomi Ellemers currently is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and member of the supervisory board of accountancy/consultancy firm PWC in the Netherlands. During the past 30 years she has combined her laboratory research in (experimental) social psychology with applied work in organizations, focusing on group processes and intergroup relations.
In her work, which is located in the social identity tradition, she explicitly considers how group memberships and shared identities shape people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This helps understand how people think about themselves, the circumstances under which they are motivated to perform well, as well as the way they relate to others.
Naomi Ellemers received many awards and distinctions for her work, and was elected member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy for the humanities and social sciences.

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European Monographs in Social Psychology