Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 16:45
Dr Roy Baumeister
Dr Roy Baumeister

He gave the world an equation for passion – now one of the most intriguing and highly-cited psychology researchers in the world is preparing to call Australia home.

At the forefront of research on self-control, the need to belong, free will, and self-defeating behaviour, Dr Roy Baumeister is set to take up a professorship with The University of Queensland.

Currently employed at Florida State University, Dr Baumeister has authored more than 500 publications and been cited almost 100,000 times in research literature.

“Roy has conducted some of the field’s most clever and provocative experiments,” UQ School of Psychology’s Professor Bill von Hippel said.

“For example, he has shown us that willpower is like a muscle – we can fatigue it if we overuse it, but we can also strengthen it through time and practise.

“Roy has also provided important correctives when the field of psychology goes astray.

“For instance, he showed us that high self-esteem is not actually a panacea for society’s ills and often causes more problems than it solves.

Dr Baumeister has four decades’ of experience in psychology, beginning his career at Princeton and Duke Universities.

At Duke he was mentored by one of the 20th Century’s most prominent psychologists, Edward E Jones.

“Dr Baumeister’s research has been wide-ranging, and he has answered questions across the psychological spectrum,” Professor von Hippel said.

“He proposed the formula that passion equals change in intimacy, divided by time.

“This is still the best-known formula for explaining the role, and the decay, of passion in close relationships.

“He also conducted some of the most notable work on the difference between living a happy life and a meaningful life, and his work on the role of conscious thought is heavily cited in ongoing debates.”

The researcher also somewhat controversially concluded there is no such thing as a self-defeating urge.

Instead, he argues that self-defeating behaviours are symptomatic of trade-offs, backfiring strategies or escapism.

Dr Baumeister is an author on 25 publications alone in 2015, his most recent of which was Role of self-control in immoral and unethical actions.

He will commence his professorship with UQ midway through 2016.