Professor Robbie Sutton

Professor of Social Psychology,
Undergraduate Outreach Team
+44 (0)1227 823939
Professor Robbie Sutton


Robbie is a Professor of Social Psychology, Director of Graduate Studies (Research), a member of the Undergraduate Outreach Team and Postgraduate Progression Monitoring Lead in the School of Psychology.

Research interests

Robbie is interested in the social psychology of justice and (in)equality, including:

  • Just-world beliefs
    These refer to the extent to which people believe they, and others, receive the treatment and life outcomes they deserve.  These are related to psychological health, functioning, and a raft of social attitudes (for more information, see Hafer & Sutton, 2014; Sutton & Douglas, 2005; Sutton & Winnard, 2007; Sutton et al., 2008; Wu et al., 2013 in the publication list).  
  • Conspiracy beliefs
    Robbie collaborates with Professor Karen Douglas on conspiracy belief (see Douglas & Sutton, 2008, 2011, Sutton & Douglas, 2014. Their work examines the psychological mechanisms that cause people to entertain such beliefs. 
  • Immanent justice reasoning
    Robbie collaborates with Mitch Callan (University of Essex) on why people tend to perceive that a person's misfortune must be attributable to some prior misdeed of theirs, even when the two cannot be related (Callan et al., 2010, 2013, 2014).
  • Gender, sexism and inequality
    Robbie has studied several aspects of gender inequality, including gendered fear of crime (Sutton & Farrall, 2005, 2008; Sutton, Robinson & Farrall, 2011), sexist intrusions on the autonomy of women during pregnancy (Murphy et al., 2011; Sutton, Douglas, & McClellan, 2011), and gender inequality in educational attainment (Hartley & Sutton, 2013).  

He is interested in social communicative approaches to these and other questions, such as intergroup relations (e.g., Douglas & Sutton, 2003, 2010; Sutton, Elder & Douglas, 2006). A related interest is in environmental psychology.  

Key publications

  • Hopkins-Doyle, A., Sutton, R. M., Douglas, K. M., & Calogero, R. M. (in press). Flattering to deceive: Why people misunderstand Benevolent Sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/pspa0000135
  • Rutjens, B., Heine, S., Sutton, R. M., & van Harreveld, F. (2018). Attitudes towards science. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology57, 125-165. doi:10.1016/bs.aesp.2017.08.001
  • Cichocka, A. K., Górska, P., Jost, J., Sutton, R. M., & Bilewicz, M. (2018). What inverted U can do for your country: A curvilinear relationship between confidence in the social system and political engagement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology115(5), 883-902. doi:10.1037%2Fpspp0000168
  • Dawtry, R., Sutton, R. M., & Sibley, C. (2015). Why wealthier people think people are wealthier, and why it matters: From social sampling to redistributive attitudes. Psychological Science26(9), 1389-1400. doi:10.1177/0956797615586560
  • Callan, M. J., Sutton, R. M Harvey, A., & Dawtry, R. (2014). Immanent justice reasoning: Theory, research, and current directions. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology49, 105-161.


Current research students

Past research students

  • Dr Aife Hopkins-Doyle: Misunderstandings of sexism and feminism
  • Dr Rael Dawtry: Income inequality through a psychological lens
  • Dr Amy Murphy: Sexist ideology, health beliefs and paternalism towards pregnant women
  • Dr Katherine Wilson: The anticipated fruits of victory: Why groups make absolute sacrifices for relative gains
  • Dr Tadios Chisango: Understanding 'infrahumanisation' of the outgroup in terms of the linguistic Intergroup Bias.
  • Dr Jennifer Cole: From speech acts to dispositions: How impressions of persons are shaped by their descriptions of others. (Graduated 2007)
  • Dr Bonny Hartley: Will boys become boys? Stereotype threat and boys' academic underachievement. (Graduated 2013)
  • Dr Amy-Jo Lynch: Fear of crime, gender, and social control: Experimental tests of radical feminist notions. (Graduated 2013)


Other academic activities

  • Fellow, Society of Experimental Social Psychology
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 2016-2018
  • Editorial Board Member, British Journal of Social PsychologyEuropean Journal of Social PsychologyJournal of Language and Social Psychology, 2009
  • Workshop tutor, European Association of Social Psychology Summer School, Lisbon, 2014 (
  • External examiner of MSc programmes at the University of Exeter (2011-2014), Lancaster (2015-2018), BSc and MSci programmes at the University of Birmingham (2012-2016), BSc programmes at Keele University (2016-2019)
  • PhD examiner at Utrecht, Lancaster, LSE, Australian National University, the University of Queensland, ULB Brussels, University of Queensland, Birmingham, ISCTE (Lisbon), Lahore, and Granada
  • Conference organiser and host, 14th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Justice Research, Canterbury, July 2016
  • Member of ESRC Peer Review panel since 2011

Conference organisation

  • The Kent Workshop on Linguistic Bias

Grants and funding

Mar 2018R. Sutton, Z. Bergstrom, K.Dhont and K.Douglas 
Leverhulme Trust 
"Moral memory bias about the sentience of animals"
May 2016K.Douglas, R.Sutton, A. Cichocka et al. 
"The psychology of conspiracy theories."
2014R. Sutton and K. Douglas
Centre for Defence Enterprise
"Multiple social identities"
Nov 2011-presentMiguel Moya et al. (Granada) (Co-investigator)
"Sexist ideology and power inequality in the development and maintenance of sexual harassment"
Research Council, Spanish Government
Nov 2011-Oct 2013R. Sutton and K. Douglas
Kent County Council 
"Coastal communities 2150: Barriers to engagement study"
Jan 2010-April 2012R. Sutton and T. Gannon
Changing behaviour programmes – psychological perspective
(Draw-down consultancy) 
Aug 2009-April 2013I. Correia, H. Alves and R. Sutton
"How life treats me depends on who I am: Social identity as threat and buffer to the belief in a just world"
Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal
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