Vale Norman Feather 1930-2023

Dear SASP members,

It is sad news upon sad news for social psychology in Australia with the news that Norm Feather passed away on Saturday morning. Norm was one of the founding members of Australasian social psychology, and the same inaugural conference in 1972 that was attended by Ron Taft, and the conference program attached to our notice of his passing last week, was convened by Norm Feather. Two absolute giants of social psychology passing within a week of each other is indeed sad news.

Professor Feather launched his professional career at UNE, as a lecturer in 1952, and helped develop the distance education offering for psychology. Progressing to a senior lecturer and then Associate Professor, he took leave in 1958 to complete his PhD with the University of Michigan as a Fulbright scholar (the first of two such scholarships), but returned to UNE in 1960 and gave another seven years’ service before joining what is now Flinders University. There, he became the foundation professor in psychology. Professor Feather’s contributions on the psychology of values and the psychological impact of unemployment have been influential internationally, as demonstrated by his high citation counts. His later work explored the social psychology of justice and human motivation, and Professor Feather pioneered research in Australia into “tall poppies” or high achievers. He is also a world authority on expectancy-value models of motivation. The author or editor of six books (the last published in 1999, on values, achievement and justice) and 230 published articles, Professor Feather was awarded a UNE Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 and a year later earned the Australian Psychological Society’s Distinguished Science Contribution Award. Honorary Doctors of Letters from UNE and Flinders University followed, and Professor Feather received an AM in 2016 for his significant service to higher education as an academic, author and editor, to the social and behavioural sciences, and to professional bodies. He also has an Honorary Fellowship from the Australian Psychological Society and counts the International Society for Justice Research Lifetime Achievement Award, received in 2021, among his greatest honours.

Norm Feather died at 92 years, and published his last paper “Attitudes towards favoring the fall of Tall Poppies: The role of Social Dominance Orientation, Authoritarianism, Political Ideologies, and Self- Esteem” in The Journal of Social Psychology in 2022. A long a illustrious career indeed, and someone who will be remembered for putting Australasian social psychology on the map!