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Researcher profile: Dr Takeshi Hamamura

Dr Takeshi Hamamura, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, was inspired by the professors in his undergraduate degree to pursue a career in academia. He specialises in examining ways of thinking, and emotions and behaviours, from a cross-cultural perspective.


Dr Takeshi Hamamura, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.
Dr Takeshi Hamamura, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.

Dr Hamamura’s recent research into self-esteem indicates that the self-esteem of Australians has been flat for the last 30 to 40 years, which is in stark contrast to the United States, where self-esteem has been rising along with other trends such as rising narcissism and decreasing empathy.

Provide an overview of your research career to date.

I obtained a PhD in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. My PhD research examined the cultural foundation of the self and motivation. I worked as Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong until 2014. In Hong Kong, I worked with collaborators and students to examine the psychology of immigration, for example in one project we examined how immigrants’ adjustment in a new society influences their pain processes. I also established a program of research examining psychological issues implicated in globalisation. 

How long have you been at Curtin?

Since 2014.

Why were you drawn to academia/research as a career?

I met a number of inspiring professors during my undergraduate years at the University of Minnesota, and wanted to become like them. I was lucky enough to get into a good PhD program and, from that point, I did not really think about any other careers (and it was too late when I had a doubt!). I’ve always enjoyed intellectual stimulation and the interesting people I get to meet as an academic.

Dr Hamamura facilitating a workshop in Tokyo on the topic of the psychology of globalisation.
Dr Hamamura facilitating a workshop in Tokyo on the topic of the psychology of globalisation.

What are your current areas of research interest/specialisation?

My specialisation within psychology is in examining people’s ways of thinking, their emotions and behaviours from a cross-cultural perspective. Over the years, I’ve looked at a range topics like self-esteem, motivation, reasoning, trust, social identity and pain process from a cross-cultural perspective.

For the past several years, I’ve been very interested in understanding how changes in social, economic and technological environments influence participating psyches. My earlier research examined these issues in China and Japan. I’ve started to conduct this research in Australia too. For example, recently we meta-analysed all published Australian data on self-esteem for a historical comparison. It turned out that the self-esteem of Australians has been flat for the last 30 to 40 years; it’s not going up or down. In the United States, self-esteem has been rising along with other trends such as rising narcissism and decreasing empathy, and these findings have led to the notion of rising self-centred psychology in the US. Our findings suggest that the similar trend may not be evident in Australia.

Who do you collaborate with?

I regularly collaborate with researchers in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the United States. At Curtin, I’m currently collaborating with Dr Britta Biedermann, Associate Professor Lauren Breen and Professor Nikos Ntoumanis. 

What have been the challenges and highlights of your career to date?

Keeping a good work and life balance has been the biggest challenge for me. I grew up in a fairly typical Japanese family and rarely saw my father during weekdays. I don’t think I can cope with that lifestyle, and I try to keep as much time as possible for ‘life’.

The highlights of my career are the teaching award I received at my previous institution and the Early Career Contribution Award from the Asian Association of Social Psychology I received in 2015.

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy watching baseball, although I’ve never played before. With my family, I enjoy camping during the summer months and an annual trip to Japan. I enjoy hanging out with my two children and helping with their homework. I also enjoy learning about gardening and meditation.

You can read more about Dr Hamamura’s research here.