What are you currently researching?
All my research focuses on understanding the nature of group identities and the impact this has on public opinion towards political change.
Currently, I’m researching how group identities are construed and mobilised by populist movements. This includes exploring how group identities appeal to core psychological needs among citizens, and how new group identities are formed and maintained after a polarising political vote (in this case Brexit). I also look at how the different ‘sides’ understand each other’s perspective on the vote.
What attracted you to this area of research?
I have always been attracted to the psychology of intergroup dynamics. I think this has important implications for how we understand how the world should look, and what political decisions allow us to move closer to that reality.
Can you give some real world examples of the impact your research will have?
Research I’ve conducted in the past on how different generations understand a recent conflict, and the impact these perspectives have on how they construe both their national identity and the nation’s relationship to others, has been utilised to develop a toolkit for practitioners in post-conflict societies (alongside the Organisation for Identity & Cultural Development).
This toolkit enables practitioners to map out the role that cultural dynamics and meanings of identity play in upholding group divides and limiting the ability of groups to reconcile.
What have been the highlights of your PhD/research project so far?
The highlight (and probably one of the scariest parts as well!) of my research so far has been getting the chance to discuss the work I’m doing with both students and colleagues from psychology and other disciplines.
It’s such a privilege to get different perspectives and insights on the work I do, and ultimately it always helps my ideas develop and helps the projects move forward.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge so far has definitely been finding a way to manage the many competing pressures of being an early career researcher. These include the challenges of finding a full-time job, maintaining a sense of confidence throughout the many rejections you face (grant applications, job applications, submitting papers to academic journals) and learning how to manage my working hours, so that the many different tasks that I need to complete, actually get done!
What is your favourite way to de-stress?
My favourite way to de-stress is probably through exercise. As I spend most of my days working in front of a computer, I find it useful to tire out my body as well. It helps take my mind off work and allows me to stay fit and healthy!
What do you hope to do career wise, long term?
My long-term goal is to continue to do research that I believe in and find meaningful and use this to develop research-led teaching as part of an academic career.