Annelie graduated in 2010 and completed her MSc Research Methods in Psychology in 2011. She is now completing her doctoral
research at Essex.
Did you take a Masters course before your PhD?
I completed my MSc in Research Methods in Psychology in 2011. This really prepared me for PhD life by providing the chance to
carry out another research project and enabling advanced training in statistical and critical analysis.
Who funds your work?
I was lucky enough to be awarded funding by the Department of Psychology at Essex. The studentship provides me with a research
budget, living costs, and tuition fees. I am aware that there are also other funding bodies available and there is always the
opportunity to self-fund your degree.
What is your research topic – what are you investigating?
I am primarily interested in the psychology of justice. More specifically, I am investigating the tactics individuals employ
when faced with an episode of injustice. Research has shown that people have a functional belief that the world is a fair and just
place, and our view of a just world is threatened when we observe the suffering of an innocent victim. My research investigates
the strategies that people adopt to relieve this threat, such as blaming the victim for their misfortune.
What does your work involve?
My experiments are either based in the lab or online and involve realistic scenarios and questionnaire items. This allows me to
actively threaten participants’ 'belief in a just world' and measure their responses. I have also recently been altering the level
of processing of participants, by having them complete a taxing secondary task or allowing more deliberative thinking by inducing
a sense of accountability.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?
I find designing an experiment and analysing the results exciting. It is really gratifying to see a theory in action within your
own data. Also, being able to contribute to a field of literature, which you have studied for years, is very rewarding.
What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?
Sometimes studies do not go as planned. However, I have learnt that unexpected findings allow for exploration into other
directions and avenues of research, which may have not been previously considered. I have also learnt that many things can affect
data and skew results, and encountering these hurdles has increased my awareness and, above all, made me a more meticulous researcher.
Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current work?
I think a whole range of skills from my degree are used in my everyday PhD study, including training in the use of statistical
software, research experience, and a general background knowledge of the literature. I feel my psychology degree has laid the building
blocks to succeed in research and I am building on these early skills every day.
What advice would you give to current students?
I would advise students interested in pursuing a PhD to find a topic they are really interested in, as well as an academic who
shares similar interests.
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