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1995 …2024

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Personal profile

Research Biography

Michael Wenzel completed his psychology undergraduate studies and PhD (1996) at the University of Münster, Germany. He subsequently was lecturer at the University of Jena (1997-99), then research fellow at the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University (2000-04), before taking up a position at Flinders University in 2005, where he is now Professor of Psychology. His PhD thesis on a social categorization approach to distributive justice was awarded the Heinz-Heckhausen Award by the German Psychological Society. He has published over 100 book chapters and articles, including in high-ranking social psychology journals such as Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Personality and Social Psychology Review, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Social Psychology and Personality Science, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. He has been an Associate Editor of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. He was President of the International Society for Justice Research (2012-2014), and is Fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He is currently a member of the Australian Research Council's College of Experts. 

Research Interests

Michael's main research interests in social psychology relate to issues of justice and morality, and specifically moral repair and reconciliation following wrongdoing, in interpersonal and intergroup relations. His research addresses the implications of wrongdoing for victims and offenders and their groups or communities, threats to their social-moral needs and identities, and how the parties may respond to such transgressions to defend against such threats and/or engage in repair, justice restoration and reconciliation. For example, he is interested in the determinants and effects of punishment, revenge and forgiveness and an offender's shame, confession, apologies, self-forgiveness and self-punishment. He is interested in how we process transgressions through reflection/rumination, how we restore and renegotiate shared values, and our sense of self and identity.

In addition to processes of reconciliation following intergroup wrongdoing, he is interested in phenomena of social discrimination and tolerance between groups. For example, he has been studying how superordinate identities that encompass two groups affect the quality of their relationship.

He also has an interest in prospection about the future, including imagination of possible futures, collective visions, utopias, and hope, and their motivational force for repair following wrongdoing, but also for processes of social change and collective action to advance justice.

He co-directs the Psychology of Justice, Emotions and Motivations lab (PsychJEM) at Flinders.

Supervised Students Successes

  • Mar 2024 Lara King  - Vice-Chancellor's Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence
  • Mar 2024 Lucy Bird  - Vice-Chancellor's Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence
  • Mar 2020 Cara Rossi - Vice-Chancellor's Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence
  • Nov 2017 Farid Anvari - Endeavour Research Fellowship
  • Apr 2017 Simon Bury - Outstanding Postgraduate Research Award from the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists (SASP)
  • Apr 2016 Anne-Marie Coughlin - Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Psychology

Supervisory Interests

  • Forgiveness
  • Self-forgiveness
  • Restorative justice
  • Reconciliation
  • Intergroup relations
  • Collective action
  • Social identity


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