What is my PhD actually about?


If you are newer to my blog/Instagram you might not have much of an idea of what my PhD is actually about, and even if you have been around for a while I have never really explained it in detail. So I thought 2 years and 8 months into my PhD was the perrrrfect time to give you all the run down.


Broadly, my PhD is in the field of conservation psychology (read here to find out more about the field). In basic terms- I apply psychological principles to conversation problems. Specially, my PhD focuses on shark conservation and my original idea was for the focus to be on understanding if shark tourism experiences can impact people’s attitudes towards sharks and in-turn their conservation behaviours.

However, my plan has changed a lot since my original proposal almost 3 years ago. Due to the findings from my first study and personal circumstances I realised I wanted my research to focus on human’s fear and perception of risk of sharks and shark attacks, and how the media impacts this. My first study was a qualitative analysis looking at how sharks are portrayed through TV news, radio stations, and newspaper Facebook pages. Without going into too much detail (I will write a summary of my results when they are completely done), I found that sharks are discussed by the Australian media often, and that this could be making people fear sharks. Therefore, I wanted to add onto this research by changing my third study to further look at the impacts of different types of media headlines.

Meanwhile, my study 2 (which will probably actually move into study 1 when I’m writing up the thesis) looked at people’s general attitudes towards sharks (as well as difference between two species of sharks), whether people were interested in conserving sharks, and other interesting psychological factors. I am still in the data analysis stage of this study, and will share more when they are done.


Aside from the three studies, my thesis will have two introduction chapters. The first discusses sharks generally, and the different ways humans are impacting shark populations. The second chapter will discuss the ways sharks are portrayed in the media and will provide context for fear and perception of risk.

There is LOOOOTS to do, but it is starting to come together, and I am excited to share more with you as it does.


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