SMU School of Social Sciences Assistant Professor Kimin Eom named as APS Rising Star

Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Social Sciences (SOSS) Assistant Professor  Kimin Eom has received the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Rising Star designation.

The APS Rising Star designation is presented to outstanding APS Members in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD. Drawing its name from an Observer editorial series that featured exemplars of the exciting work being done by the field’s newest researchers, this designation recognises researchers whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.

Asst Prof Eom’s mentors – Professors Heejung Kim and David Sherman at the University of California Santa Barbara had nominated him for the award. Individuals being considered for Rising Star designation are evaluated for their promise of excellence in research based on the following criteria:

  • significant publications,
  • significant recognitions,
  • significant discoveries, methodological innovations, or theoretical or empirical contributions,
  • work with potentially broad impact,
  • commitment to diversity in science, and
  • demonstrated independence from mentors.

Asst Prof Eom’s primary research examines prosociality, broadly defined – why people behave in ways that benefit others, society, and the globe. In particular, he examines this topic within the context of social and global challenges that threaten society’s sustainability, such as climate change and pandemics. 

How he got this achievement

When asked why he thought he has been named as a Rising Star, he said, “My research on culture and sustainability played an important role, I believe. There is a significant body of research on the psychology of sustainability behaviour, but still a dearth of research has considered culture and diversity. Given the global nature of sustainability problems, this is a serious limitation. My research has addressed this gap by examining diverse forms of culture, such as nationality, social class, and religion, to understand how people with different cultural backgrounds respond to sustainability problems and what similarly and differently motivates their sustainability related actions.”

How his research impacts society and its implications

In general, as a scholar, Asst Prof Eom pursues fundamental questions about human psychology (e.g., what motivates human action, how culture shapes human psychology, how others influence our behaviour) but pay close attention and care about the contexts where he addresses those questions. He tries to test theoretically novel ideas in contexts of important and timely social issues. By doing so, his research aims to advance psychological theory while offering practical insights (for interventions, policy making, marketing, etc.) for positive social change.

He further elaborated, “regarding my research on culture and sustainability, policies and interventions are commonly built on implicit assumptions about the ways in which behaviour operates. Importantly, my research has identified cultural differences in determinants of pro-environmental motivation and behaviour. These findings inform what psychological factors can be targeted for different cultural groups. These findings also suggest that we need to apply different assumptions when approaching people with different backgrounds, which should be informed by data and research.”

Other research areas he is working on

Recently, he has actively worked on research on social norms: How people perceive and respond to social norms and their implications for positive attitudes and behaviour change. According to Asst Prof Eom, norms can be powerful tools to be leveraged for behaviour change across various domains at the workplace, school or cultural settings.

Moving forward, he says “I would like to continue to develop and expand my research on culture, norms, and sustainability and offer new knowledge and insights towards greater sustainability and collective well-being.”

Congratulations Asst Prof Eom, on being named APS Rising Star!