My research is about revenge in crime victims. This topic has been largely neglected. It seems that many crime victims fantasise about getting revenge against their offender. This may be a way of coping with the trauma of victimisation. However, it also seems that only a small proportion of the crime victims who fantasise about revenge actually go on to take revenge. I’m examining why it is that some crime victims take revenge and others do not – I’m looking at their personality traits, as well as the emotions they experience in the lead up to taking revenge. I’m also exploring how revenge fantasies affect crime victims’ mental health.
What is your ideal Research outcome?
My research could have some exciting real-world impacts. Revenge often motivates violent crime, including homicides, so understanding why some crime victims take revenge could help to prevent violence and loss of life. This is because my research could help to inform risk assessments and interventions. My research could also help to improve mental health support for crime victims, who often experience conditions including PTSD, anxiety, and depression after the crime.
Supervisors: Professor Cherie Armour, Dr Donncha Hanna, Dr Emily McGlinchey
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen's?
The STARC lab were advertising online for a PhD studentship funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE), which would explore the causes of revenge in crime victims. I was really excited when I came across it and knew I had to apply. Revenge is a topic which has always fascinated me. I know I’m not alone in that – there are so many films and TV shows exploring revenge, including Game of Thrones, Dynasty, and Succession to name a few. I also came to psychology from a legal background, so I was really interested in carrying out research which could make a difference to the lives of crime victims.
I chose to do my PhD at Queen’s because I completed my MSc in Psychological Sciences here and really enjoyed the experience. The facilities are great, but most importantly so are the people. My tutors and lecturers were incredibly helpful and supportive, which made a massive difference to my learning. I was also fortunate to be able to volunteer as a research assistant for Professor Rhiannon Turner during my master’s, and I really enjoyed that experience. It made me really confident that I would enjoy research at Queen’s.
How have you been supported at Queen's?
My PhD supervisors at Queen’s have been incredibly supportive. We have regular meetings, and they are always willing to answer any questions I have. The STARC lab has a very friendly, open, and supportive culture. We have regular social events – often meeting for coffee or going out for dinner in the evenings, and I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with other STARC researchers on a research paper.
In what ways have you developed at Queen's?
I have really developed as a researcher during my time at Queen’s. I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on my work to Victim Support NI during the first month of my PhD, so I really hit the ground running. It was a steep learning curve, but so rewarding. I have also attended some excellent training sessions offered by both the library and the Graduate School at Queen’s. These have helped me to hone my writing skills. They have also developed my understanding of research methods, and the process of getting papers published.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen's?
The postgraduate community in the School is really friendly. There is an excellent mentoring scheme, which involves first year students being paired with more experienced students. We also have a social committee, who are working hard to plan lots of social events for us. We had a pizza night recently, and will soon be going to Prison Island together. There is also a large, open-plan office for Psychology PhD students in the David Keir building. I choose to work there most days and everyone is really friendly. I have also made friends with some more experienced students, who regularly offer me support and advice.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
I hope to continue researching mental health and trauma, whether that involves a traditional academic route, or working for a charity or in industry.
Anything else you would like to add or advise to new PGR students?
My advice would be to really make an effort to get to know other the PhD students in the School. Their support and advice has been absolutely invaluable to me.
Connect with Katie on LinkedIn here.