ANU Social Psychology Spring Workshop 2012

ANU Social Psychology Spring Workshop

Considering social capital:  Perspectives across the social and behavioural sciences.

November 30th, 2012, full day event

Seminar Room 1, Level 3, Science Teaching Building, ANU

This workshop will focus on the topic of social capital from a diversity of disciplinary perspectives including economics, sociology and social psychology. The aims of the workshop are to (a) better understand the construct of social capital and how it is measured, (b) explore the intersection between social capital and related work and (c) identify directions for future research.

Social capital has proved difficult to define and measure with many authors highlighting its multifaceted structure that includes strong ties, cohesion, engagement and trust in a particular network of social relations. Often the study of these networks concerns democratic principles including civic engagement, community participation, and social harmony. Social networks have also been conceptualized as a resource that can accumulate for individuals generating social capital (social support, co-operation, meaning and belonging) and affecting well-being, resilience and happiness.

Although social capital is widely researched in economics and political science, and of increasing interest in public policy domains, input from social psychology has been limited. This is surprising given social psychology’s focus on social processes and the impact others can have on one’s own motivations and behaviour. One promising avenue for further integration is social identity with Putman (2007) arguing the relationship between social capital and social identity is “almost certainly powerful and reciprocal” (p. 159). From the social identity perspective outcomes such as shared purpose, cohesion, support, empathy, and trust flow from people’s sense of psychological belonging and connection to others (‘we’ and ‘us’). Classifying others as similar to ’us’, and the associated social norms that define ‘us’, can impact on decision-making, attitudes and behaviour in important ways. 

In this workshop speakers will examine a range of issues concerning social capital and its measurement, social networks, and social identity along with the potential intersection between these concepts. Presentations will be interspersed with discussions, both at the small group and whole of workshop level.


Professor Helen Berry – Helen leads a research program on ‘healthy and sustainable communities’ with personal interests in climate change, social capital, social identity, disadvantage and mental health in rural and remote areas and in Australian cities.

Tegan Cruwys – Tegan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland. Her research interests are in social identity processes and mental health, with a focus on how and why our social relationships can influence our wellbeing.

Professor Alex Haslam – Alex is an Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the study of group and identity processes in social, organizational and clinical contexts.

Dr Andrew Leigh (MP) – Andrew was a professor in the Research School of Economics at the Australian National University before leaving to pursue a career in Politics as the Federal Member for Fraser. His research is in the fields of labour economics, public finance, and political economics.

Dr. Léan OBrien – Léan is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, the University of Canberra. Her research is focussed on social participation and population health, with a particular interest in the relationships between social capital, social identity and mental health. Lean also holds a fractional Research Fellowship at the ANU, studying climate change impacts on mental health.

Dr Robert Ackland –Robert is an Associate Professor in the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute, ANU.  An economist by training, Robert works in the areas of network science and web science with a particular focus on quantitative analysis of online social and organisational networks.

Dr Kate Reynolds – Kate is an Associate Professor in the Research School of Psychology, ANU.  Her research is focused on social identity (“we”, “us”) in shaping people’s attitudes, affect and behavior. The work has direct relevance to social and behavioural change including person plasticity, leadership/influence processes, and social norm change.

Professor Mike Smithson Michael is a Professor in the Research School of Psychology at the ANU. His research focuses on judgement and decision making under uncertainty, and statistical methods for psychology and the social sciences.

This is an open event and there is no registration fee. However, places are limited so please follow this link to register your attendance:

Attendee Registration

(Registration closes 19th November)

For other questions and enquiries:

Andrew Frain

0412 803 498

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