Equality and diversity initiatives are a topic of political contention, often being linked to discussions of a “culture war”. In some cases, this can lead to conspiracy theorising about the true goals of these initiatives, with gender equality initiatives often being painted as part of a feminist or Marxist plot to gain power. Psychological research investigating these conspiracy beliefs remains limited. As such, this project has three aims. Firstly, it aims to develop a scale which measures conspiracy beliefs about gender equality initiatives. Secondly, it will investigate the mechanisms which trigger negative attitudes and conspiracy beliefs about gender equality initiatives, particularly from an intergroup relations perspective. Finally, these findings will be used to develop a game-based training intervention which reduces negative attitudes and conspiracy beliefs about gender equality initiatives.
My project is funded by a Department for the Economy Research Studentship. The research follows on from the EPSRC-funded Inclusion Matters project
What is your ideal Research outcome?
The ideal research outcome for this PhD is to develop a game-based training intervention which successfully reduces negative attitudes and conspiracy beliefs about gender equality initiatives. This would be made freely available to STEM departments in universities across the UK to maximise its impact. I also hope that this project will prompt further evidence-based intervention studies within industry.
Dr Ioana Latu and Professor Rhiannon Turner
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen's?
I completed my Applied Psychology BSc (Hons) and Political Psychology MSc at the University of Kent. During that time I developed research interests in social psychology, political psychology and cyberpsychology. This project really excited me because it combines elements of all three research areas, along with the potential for developing new skills in research and coding. It also offered the chance to work with experts in these fields at an internationally recognised university.
I almost always lived in Kent, so location was also important for me. I fell in love with Belfast as soon as I visited! The city is beautiful and filled with lovely people.
How have you been supported at Queen's?
As my project involves creating game-based training tools, Queen’s is providing me training to develop my coding and game development skills. There are plenty of learning opportunities within and beyond the School, such as training in R and teaching skills.
There are also plenty of opportunities to engage with and disseminate research. Since joining Queen’s, I have been supported to apply to present my work at a large international conference. PhD students also take part in initiatives such as the Annual Postgraduate Research Conference and weekly seminars.
In what ways have you developed at Queen's?
My technical skills have improved significantly, particularly in relation to statistics and coding. My science communication skills have also improved through teaching and outreach activities. Perhaps most importantly, I am now much more confident in my ability to conduct research and communicate the findings.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen's?
The postgraduate community within the School is extremely friendly and supportive. There is always someone you can turn to for encouragement or help. This includes staff too – for example, my supervision team have been absolutely brilliant.
There have also been plenty of opportunities to connect with others within both the School of Psychology and the broader postgraduate community. For instance, I regularly attend QUB ReproducibiliTea, a multidisciplinary journal club which discusses papers and projects relevant to open science and the replication crisis.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
Upon completing my PhD, I hope to use my skills in government, the voluntary sector, or industry. At present I am considering careers in behavioural science, social policy research, and user research.
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