Dr Olivia Efthimiou
B.A. Sociology, Political Science (ANU); MLitt With Distinction, Visual Culture (CQU); PhD Cultural Studies, Positive Psychology, Innovative Methods (Murdoch)

Honorary Research Fellow

About me

I am an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Arts, Murdoch University, Perth,  Associate Researcher at the Australian National Academy of Screen and Sound Research Centre, and Affiliate at Murdoch’s Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability. My current research focuses on wellbeing, transformative leadership, applied positive psychology, creative and innovative methods, and interdisciplinary research cultures. My past work has involved examining visual culture across various mediums (film, screen, art, television) as a lens for exploring the human condition through a range of perspectives, including social and political theory, consciousness studies, cybernetics, transpersonal psychology and queer theory.

Teaching area

Career Learning: Managing Your Career (MSP100) (Career Learning Spine)

Research areas

Wellbeing; Heroism; Leadership; Applied Positive Psychology; Embodiment; Interdisciplinary Theory and Research; Ethnographies/Qualitative Research; Innovative Methods; Career Identity and Graduate Employability; Visual Culture Analysis; Social and Political Theory; Philosophy of Science

Current projects

Senior Research Associate (2014-current), Australian Research Council Discovery Project: “The Game of Being Mobile: A study of mobile gaming cultures“. Chief Investigators: Professor Larissa Hjorth (RMIT), Associate Professor Ingrid Richardson (Murdoch).

  • A 3-year Australian ethnographic study of mobile gaming (and gaming in other platforms) and practices, technologies, gamification and creative play in domestic (primarily) and other everyday contexts. The Game of Being Mobile is the first Australian study to examine the social uses of mobile gaming, funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant (DP140104295) across five major cities (Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane). Through ethnographic methods over three years, The Game of Being Mobile explores how mobile game consumption is reflecting, and being shaped by, complex social and technological practices integral to contemporary life.

Co-Investigator, “Restoring the social license to operate: Resolving an industry-community conflict in Western Australia“.  Lead Researcher: Dr Martin Brueckner, Murdoch University. School of Business and Governance Small Research Grant 2016 (Ellis & Brueckner).

  • The project builds on ongoing, community-based research in the small Western Australian town of Yarloop, which has been in conflict over many years with its corporate neighbour, Alcoa. Recently, the town was almost completely destroyed by a major bushfire event that swept through the region in January 2016. The fires have brought to the forefront tensions between residents and its corporate neighbour, and raised important questions regarding residents’ ‘sense of place’ and the importance of people-place connections for the mental health and post-disaster recovery.
Project Leader, “Empowering People, Transforming Communities” (2017-current)
  • This multi-disciplinary project will engage a range of stakeholders in Western Australia across research, community groups and government through targeted evidence based community interventions. The purpose of this project is to foster personal and community wellbeing by applying innovative emerging research, facilitating collaboration between community groups, local business and academia, and creating and applying knowledge with active support systems and leadership.  Wellbeing, transformational self-leadership enhancement and capacity building is the ultimate goal of the project. This is an opportunity to respond to members of the community who need our help through cutting-edge research and collaboration, and to evaluate these outcomes which others can build on and adapt.

Awards and grants

  • Co-Investigator, Restoring the social license to operate: Resolving an industry-community conflict in Western Australia. School of Business and Governance Small Research Grant 2016. Centre for Responsible Citizeship and Sustainability, Murdoch University.
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship and Murdoch Strategic Top-Up Award – 2014-2017

Events and speaking engagements

Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability Seminar Series, 2018, Murdoch University, Perth. Presentation with President, Hero Town Australia, Sylvia Gray. “Heroism, Leadership and Responsible Citizenship: An Approach to Sustaining Wellbeing”. https://echo360.org.au/media/62a1e759-d1ac-4098-a9dc-fa412a7baa12/public

Klisanin, D., & Efthimiou, O. (Speakers). (2017). Episode 013 – Dana Klisanin and Olivia Efthimiou, The Hero Forge [Podcast]. https://www.theheroforge.org/podcast/2017/4/22/episode-013-olivia-ephimiou-dana-kilsanin

Event Organiser and Speaker, The Rise and Future of Heroism Science – A Cross-Disciplinary Conference, 11-12 July 2016, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. This was the world’s first international conference on heroism science research. Further details are available here.

Speaker, The Hero Round Table, 21 November 2015, Deakin University, Geelong.This is the world’s premier conference series on heroism promotion and education, attended by leading heroism experts including word-renowned psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo.

Professional and community service

Editorial Board, “Thresholds and Transformations” series, Anthem Press (from 2018).

Guest Editor, Special Issue 2018, “The Art and Science of Heroism and Heroic Leadership“, Frontiers in Psychology.

Lead Editor, Heroism and Wellbeing in the 21st Century: Applied and Emerging Perspectives (2018). Co-Editors S. T. Allison and Z. Franco. New York: Routledge. This book showcases the continued presence of heroic ideas and action in contemporary societies from a broad range of settings, disciplines and perspectives – from business, to law, popular culture, economics, history and more. The book is an anthology of selected papers presented at the inaugural cross-disciplinary conference “The Rise and Future of Heroism Science” held in Perth in July 2016.

Editor-in-Chief (2016-2018)/Editorial Board (2019-present), Heroism Science. Heroism Science is the first international open source cross-disciplinary peer-refereed research journal dedicated to the exploration of heroism.

Managing Editor, Special Issue 2017, “Heroism and the Human Experience“, Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Guest Editor, Special Issue 2016, Heroic Reflections: Heroism in Popular, Visual and Digital Cultures, and Creative Production, IM: Interactive Media, National Academy of Screen and Sound (Australia)

Advisory Committee, Hero Town. Hero Town is the first initiative in Australia that delivers practical heroism education and training programs in primary and secondary schools, workplaces and community centres to promote community education and engagement.


Journal articles (peer reviewed)

Efthimiou, O., & Franco, Z. E. (2018). Heroism and the human experience: Foreword to the special issue. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(4): 371-381. doi:10.1177/0022167818772201 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022167818772201

Efthimiou, O., & Franco, Z. E. (2017). Heroic intelligence: The hero’s journey as an evolutionary and existential blueprint. Journal of Genius and Eminence, 2(2): 33-44. doi:10.18536/jge.2017. http://www.icscpress.com//index.php?cID=208

Willson, M., Tye, M. Gorman, S., Ely-Harper, K., Leaver, T., Creagh, R., Magladry, M., & Efthimiou, O. (2017). Framing the women’s AFL: Contested spaces and emerging narratives of hope and opportunity for women in sport. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. doi:10.1080/17430437.2017.1409727. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17430437.2017.1409727

Efthimiou, O. (2017). Heroic ecologies: Embodied heroic leadership and sustainable futures. Sustainability, Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8(4): 489-511. doi:10.1108/SAMPJ-08-2015-0074. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/SAMPJ-08-2015-0074

Efthimiou, O., & Allison, S. T. (2017). Heroism science: Frameworks for an emerging field. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 1-15. doi:10.1177/0022167817708063 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022167817708063?journalCode=jhpa

Efthimiou, O. (2016). Breaking disciplinary boundaries: Heroism studies and contemporary research practices. Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies, 22(1): 19-33. http://www.limina.arts.uwa.edu.au/volumes/volume-22.1-2016/article-Efthimiou

Efthimiou, O. (2016). Heroic play: Heroism in mindful, creative and playful participation. IM: Interactive Media, 11: 1-28. http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/32455/1/IM11-heroism-article-efthimiou.pdf

Efthimiou, O. (2012). Becoming the monstrous-feminine: Sex, death and transcendence in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. IM: Interactive Media, 8: 1-30. http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/14075/1/IM8-masculine-feminine-article-03-efthimiou.pdf


Efthimiou, O., Allison, S. T., & Franco, Z. E. (Eds.) (2018). Heroism and wellbeing in the 21st century: Applied and emerging perspectives. New York: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/Heroism-and-Wellbeing-in-the-21st-Century-Applied-and-Emerging-Perspectives/Efthimiou-Allison-Franco/p/book/9781138222014

Book chapters (peer reviewed)

Efthimiou, O., Bennett, D., & Allison, S. T. (2018). The role of heroic creativity and leadership in creative work. In L. Kong & A. de Dios. Geographies of creativity. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Efthimiou, O. (2018). Foreword. Heroic Transformation: How Heroes Change Themselves and The World, S. T. Allison (Ed.). 

Allison, S. T., & Efthimiou, O. (2018). Heroic leadership in The Walking Dead’s post-apocalyptic universe: The restoration and regeneration of society as a hero organism. In J. K. Beggan & S. T. Allison. Leadership and sexuality: Power, principles, and processes. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Efthimiou, O., Allison, S. T., & Franco, Z. E. (2018). Heroism in the 21st century: Recognising and reconciling with our personal heroic imperative. In O. Efthimiou, S. T. Allison & Z. E. Franco. Heroism and wellbeing in the 21st century: Applied and emerging perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Efthimiou, O., Allison, S. T., & Franco, Z. E. (2018). Definition, synthesis and applications of heroic wellbeing. In O. Efthimiou, S. T. Allison & Z. E. Franco. Heroism and wellbeing in the 21st century: Applied and emerging perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Efthimiou, O. (2017). The hero organism: Advancing the embodiment of heroism thesis in the 21st century. In S. T. Allison, G. R. Goethals & R. M. Kramer (Eds.), Handbook of heroism and heroic leadership (pp. 139-162). New York: Routledge.

Franco, Z. E., Efthimiou, O., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2016). Heroism and eudaimonia: Sublime actualization through the embodiment of virtue. In J. Vittersø (Ed.), Handbook of eudaimonic well-being (pp. 337-348). Switzerland: Springer.

Journal articles (non peer reviewed)

Efthimiou, O. (2017). The hero organism and heroism science: A new frontier of human consciousness. Heroism Science, 2(1), 1-7. https://heroismscience.wordpress.com/journal/heroism-science-volume-2-2017/the-hero-organism-and-heroism-science-a-new-frontier-of-human-consciousness/

Efthimiou, O. (2015). The search for a hero gene: Fact or fiction? Heroism Science, 1(1): 1-6. http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/27951/

Efthimiou, O. (2013). A.I., Cyborgs, shamans and transcendence: Configuring the ISO and the mythopoeic sacred in Tron: Legacy. Journal of Conscious Evolution, 9: 1-16. http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/14077/

Efthimiou, O. (2012). Shifting realities: Tron cyberspace and the “New” consciousness in 21st Century technoscapes. Journal of Conscious Evolution, 8: 1-17. http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/14076/

Conference papers

Efthimiou, O., & Gray, S. T. (2018). Heroism, leadership and responsible citizenship: An approach to sustaining wellbeing. Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability Seminar Series, Murdoch University, Perth. https://echo360.org.au/media/62a1e759-d1ac-4098-a9dc-fa412a7baa12/public

Efthimiou, O., Magladry, M., Klisanin, D., & Allison, S. T. (2017). “#EverydayHero”: Re-imagining the self through heroic identity, branding and activism. Accepted abstract for conference Bridging Gaps: National Identity in Persona, Branding and Activism, Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, December 8-10, 2017.

Efthimiou, O. (2017). Designing sustainable futures: Transforming community and business practices through heroic leadership in social innovation. Presented at 4th International Conference on CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance, Perth, Australia, 26 July 2017.

Efthimiou, O., Bennett, D., & Allison, S. T. (2016). The influence of heroic leadership on career identity: A transdisciplinary perspective. Presented at The Rise and Future of Heroism Science: A Cross-Disciplinary Conference, Perth, Australia, 11-12 July 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC5a6od1Lnc

Efthimiou, O. (2015). The hero organism and heroism science: A new frontier of human consciousness. Presented at The Hero Round Table Australia, Geelong, 21 November 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn1uXuPnscI&t=1s


Efthimiou, O. (2017) Understanding heroism: Transdisciplinary perspectives. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

Efthimiou, O. (2012). Dreaming the posthuman in cyberspace: war of the worlds and the return of the un/real in Tron: Legacy. Master of Letters thesis, CQUniversity.


Efthimiou, O. (2016). Editorial: Heroic reflections: Heroism in popular, visual and digital cultures, and creative production. IM: Interactive Media, 11. http://imjournal.murdoch.edu.au/im-issue-11-2016-editorial/

Efthimiou, O. (2015, August 21). The problem of heroism [Blog post]. Heroism Today. https://heroismscience.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/the-problem-of-heroism/