It is with great sadness that we relay news of the passing of Professor Alan Lewis. Alan dedicated 40 years of teaching, research, and leadership to the University of Bath, before becoming an Emeritus Professor in 2017.
Alan’s career was long and accomplished. He was a pioneer economic psychologist, a field in which he was recognised internationally for his innovative work at the intersection of social psychology and economics. Alan conducted important, original, and influential research on economic socialisation, debt, environmentally sustainable development, ethical investment and tax evasion. He was first appointed at Bath as a Research Fellow having graduated from the University of Wales, Cardiff, in 1976. His post at Bath involved working with then Professor of Economics, Cedric Sandford, who saw the potential for expanding economics beyond the narrow ‘rational man’ model that prevailed at the time. Alan assumed the post of Lecturer three years later, and then advanced speedily to Reader and, in 1998, to Professor and Director of the Centre for Economic Psychology at Bath.
Alan's leadership in Economic Psychology helped establish rapid growth in this field of research. He assumed the editorship of the field’s top journal, the Journal of Economic Psychology, during its early years (1996–2000) and later served as President of the International Association of Researchers in Economic Psychology (IAREP; 2009–2011), which he supported throughout his career, while also being a member of the Society for the Advancement of Behavioural Economics (SABE) and helping connect IAREP and SABE. Alan’s research was funded by diverse sources, including Research Councils (e.g., ESRC, EPSRC), charities (e.g., Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and industry.
His research in economic psychology led to several influential books and numerous journal articles. While most books go out of print and accessibility in a short time, his books have had remarkable staying power. His highly influential book, The Psychology of Taxation, published in 1982, preceded a string of important volumes – The Economic Mind (co-authored with Adrian Furnham) published in 1986, then The New Economic Mind (with Paul Webley and Adrian Furnham) in 1994, and the provocatively titled Morals, Markets and Money in 2002. These books encouraged psychologists to examine a range of issues in social economics, while leading to high accolades, such as Fellowship in the British Psychological Society and the Academy of Social Sciences.
It is perhaps particularly memorable that these research achievements occurred alongside a strong dedication to teaching. Alan served as Director of Studies for undergraduate programmes at Bath during two separate periods (1993–2001/2009–2011) and served as Director of Studies for two postgraduate programmes (MSc in Applied Social Psychology, MRes in Environment, Energy and Resilience). Throughout this time, he epitomized the principle of research-led teaching, using his experiences and research to inspire future generations via engaging and informative lectures. He also inspired future academics by championing the postgraduate students (and staff) he supervised and mentored. It is comforting to note that his legacy will continue for many years to come.
These research and teaching accomplishments accompanied a strong commitment to broader university citizenship. Together with three other psychologists, Alan co-founded the first degree programme at Bath to be accredited by the British Psychological Society in 1981. This degree programme provided graduate basis for chartership and enabled graduates to pursue postgraduate professional training. Over the next 15 years, the group established four Masters programmes, including the MSc in Applied Social Psychology, which was initiated and led by Alan. During this period the Department of Psychology was founded, and Alan served as its second Head of Department (2001–2004). He was a consistent and reliable departmental citizen, leading difficult and important tasks, such as the department’s Athena Swan Bronze application just prior to his retirement.
After retirement, Alan continued to serve his research field, for example by editing the prestigious Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour, which reports cutting-edge work on a range of topics, including public finance, consumption, cyborgs, debt, fuzzy trace theory, neuroeconomics, robots, and unemployment.
Alan will be remembered as a thoughtful and creative scholar, a good-humoured and inspirational teacher and mentor, and a caring and engaged colleague.
Alan is survived by his wife Sandie, daughters Emma and Frankie, and grandsons Gabriel and Conrad. His first granddaughter will be born in April and his outstanding achievement near the end of his life was to walk Frankie down the aisle 11 days before he died.
His family has launched an appeal for Dorothy House in memory of Alan for all the support the charity has offered them.