New appointments boost international expertise in psychology, neuroscience, and public engagement

University of Adelaide, Psychology Head of School

Professor Elaine Fox

The University of Adelaide has welcomed two new international appointments - Professors Elaine Fox and Kevin Dutton - to its School of Psychology, deepening its research expertise in neuroscience and psychology, and psychopathy.

Announcing the new appointments, University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj, says he is delighted to welcome two scholars with such a strong reputation for research leadership, teaching and public engagement.

“Professors Fox and Dutton have made career-long contributions to psychology, carving out new research spaces in the field, leading research and teaching at some of the world’s most prestigious international institutions, and translating that research into practice and public understanding,” Professor Høj says.

“These are two exciting appointments for psychology in Australia.”

Most recently Professor of Psychology and Affective Science at Oxford University, where she founded the Oxford Centre for Emotion and Affective Neuroscience (OCEAN), Professor Elaine Fox is a cognitive psychologist with a research focus on human emotions and exploring the cognitive and genetic processes that act as protective factors that enhance human resilience.

She also held a national role in the UK coordinating eight mental health research networks working on finding innovative approaches to understanding mental health in diverse populations.

“These are two exciting appointments for psychology in Australia.”University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj.

A Dubliner, Professor Fox completed both her BA (Hons) degree and her PhD at University College Dublin and has held academic positions in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand, including a period as Head of The School of Psychology and the Centre for Brain Science at the University of Essex.

She is passionate about making psychology accessible to wider audiences, and beyond her academic research, has authored the bestselling book, Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: The New Science of Optimism and Pessimism. Her new book, Switchcraft: Harnessing the Power of Mental Agility to Transform Your Life will be published worldwide in 2022.

As the new Head of School at the University of Adelaide, Professor Fox will provide academic, strategic, and operational leadership to the school and the faculty. 

“I am delighted to be joining such a vibrant, young psychology school in one of Australia’s oldest Universities,” Professor Fox says.

“And I’m excited to learn more about the school and help Adelaide to become a centre of excellence for psychological science.”

Professor Kevin Dutton

Professor Kevin Dutton

Professor Kevin Dutton, a research psychologist best known for his work in psychopathy has been appointed as Australia’s first Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology.

Professor Dutton says he can’t wait to take on the new role.

“Joining the Psychology School at the University of Adelaide is incredibly exciting,” he says, “and provides an unparalleled opportunity to ‘get psychology out there’; to showcase the many facets of this fascinating science to the Australian public - to transport it from labs to lives.”

Professor Dutton has a PhD from the University of Essex and as well as being a research psychologist, is also an elite performance consultant and a bestselling author.

Across his career he has held senior positions at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities and written six books including the acclaimed bestsellers Flipnosis - The Art & Science of Split-Second Persuasion, The Wisdom of Psychopaths - Lessons in Life from Saints, Spies & Serial Killers, and Black and White Thinking - How to Outsmart the Brain, Celebrate Nuance, and Learn to Think in Technicolour.

His principal research interests are persuasion and social influence, the psychopathic personality – more specifically, how psychopathic personality traits might be used for the good - and what he calls the ‘categorization instinct’ - our hardwired, evolutionary insistence on making an inherently complex life simple…with its attendant consequences of stereotyping, fundamentalism, and polarisation.

Professor Dutton also co-hosts a podcast with Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson, entitled Psycho Schizo Espresso where they delve into the wilder side of psychology. Addressing subjects from serial killers to poltergeists, conspiracy theorists to Satanists, the podcast has been praised by fans and critics across the globe.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, Professor Benjamin Kile says the appointments will add significant depth to the School of Psychology.

“These appointments add expertise in some of our key strengths in research and teaching in psychology, including human resilience and neuroscience, and will support significant community outreach to raise the profile of psychology and its vital role in human health,” Professor Kile says.

Tagged in featured story, psychology, resilience, psychopathy, research