1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Egenis · People

Dr. Thomas Morton

Research Fellow

Biography

I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate training in social psychology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane , Australia . My PhD thesis explored the psychological and communicative processes which shape the effects of mass-mediated health communications. In 2003, I lectured in social psychology at the University of Queensland before moving to Exeter in 2004 to take up a teaching and research fellowship in the School of Psychology . My research interests include social psychological perspectives on mass communication, health communication and health behaviour, public opinion, public debate, and political behaviour.

Research Project:

The relationships between theories of group membership and inter-group attitudes

Publications

My current research at the University of Exeter will explore the issue of essentialism as it relates to current debates about human genetics, and the implications of essentialism for group identity and intergroup relations. Specifically, I am interested in how essentialist arguments (e.g., that membership in a particular social category is natural, inherent, fixed, and immutable) are used strategically within the context of particular debates about equality. For example, the argument that membership in a devalued group is biologically determined can imply that discrimination on the basis of category membership is unjustified, or it can be used to legitimise the division between groups and to justify the status quo. Similarly, I am interested in the consequences of essentialism for self-conception among minority group members. For example, the belief that identity is natural, inherent and biologically determined might lead to a range of positive outcomes for stigmatised minorities - greater solidarity, higher collective self-esteem and greater willingness to engage in collective action – or it might lead to a feeling of reduced personal control, hopelessness, lower self-esteem and disengagement. It is hoped that understanding these divergent responses will contribute to an appreciation of the social political consequences of scientific research on genetics.

Project: The relationships between theories of group membership and inter-group attitudes

Research Interests

Prior Publications

Printed publications:

Morton T.A. & Duck, J.M. (2001). Communication and health beliefs: Mass and interpersonal influences on perceptions of risk to self and others. Communication Research, 28(5) , 602-626.

Morton, T.A. & Duck, J.M. (2000). Social identity and media dependency in the gay community: The prediction of safe sex attitudes. Communication Research, 27(4) , 438-460.

Conference Presentations:

Morton, T.A. & Duck, J.M. (1999). Social identity and media dependency in the gay community: The prediction of safe sex attitudes . Paper presented at the 4th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Coolum , Australia , April 1999.

Morton, T.A. & Duck, J.M. (2000). Mass media and health: The role of personal and social factors in predicting beliefs . Paper presented at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Freemantle , Australia , April 2000.

Duck, J.M., Morton, T.A., & Fortey, K. (2001). Media election coverage: Issues for them, not for us . Paper presented at the 7th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Melbourne , Australia , July 2001.

Morton, T.A. & Duck, J.M. (2001). From impersonal to personal: The role of media in framing social issues and shaping individual responses . Paper presented at the 7th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Melbourne , Australia , July 2001.

Duck, J.M., Morton, T.A., & Fortey, K. (2002). The media agenda: Reinforcing or undermining partisan voting intentions . Paper presented at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Adelaide , Australia , April 2002.

Morton, T.A. & Duck, J.M. (2002). Enlisting the influence of others: Alternative strategies for persuasive media campaigns . Paper presented at the 8th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Adelaide , Australia , April 2002.

Morton, T.A. & Duck, J.M. (2002). Talking it over: The effect of parents’ reactions to a persuasive anti-drug campaign on interpersonal communication and perceptions of child risk . Poster presented at the General Meeting of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology, San Sebastian , Spain , June 2002.

Morton, T.A., & Duck, J.M. (2003). Responding to risk information in the media: The role of direct experience and media dependency. Paper presented at the 9th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australiasian Social Psychologists, Sydney , Australia , March 2003.