ESR Name: Leda Tortora
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Supervisor(s): Prof. J. Vries
Project Title: Hate and how we can stop hating: the role of betrayal and atonement.
Project Synopsis: Hatred is a complex phenomenon involving many components, including betrayal. If an individual is betrayed, particularly by trusted others, the resulting hatred may be aimed specifically at that person. However, a sense of betrayal can also be rooted in a more general feeling of being hurt or let down by society, in which the resulting hatred will be more diffuse and could be directed at society in general or specific groups. A feeling of being betrayed incorporates inner conflict or cognitive dissonance (Festinger 1957), which can be a source of significant distress. The core aim of this study is to explore these processes and how they may be mitigated through reconciliation, restoration, reparation, apologies, justice and other mechanisms. Initially (objective 1), the narratives of people affected by political violence will be gathered to elucidate what triggers hatred and the role of betrayal and its mitigation strategies. These findings will inform the design of an fMRI study (objective 2) where the neural correlations of betrayal and the previously mentioned mitigating factors will be investigated in the general population. Outcomes of this project will inform procedures aimed at preventing hateful behaviours and implementing successful mitigating practices.
ESR Biography: Leda Tortora is a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin. Her current research focuses on core features and neural correlates of hateful behaviours and restorative justice. Leda received the BSc degree in Science and Techniques of Psychology at Lumsa University and the M.Sc. degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Sapienza University of Rome. Furthermore, she attended a postgraduate Advanced School in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), motivated by a keen interest in learning to face problems with a quantitative approach and acquiring fundamental notions of machine learning and statistical modelling. Her research interests are forensic psychiatry and forensic neuroscience. During her master, she worked with the Department of Human Neurosciences of the Sapienza University of Rome on various projects in forensic psychiatry. As a master student, she was awarded the 'International Master's Thesis Scholarship' to develop her master's thesis project in collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, on neuroprediction in forensic psychiatry and criminal justice. Leda particularly enjoys working in interdisciplinary teams, building up profitable collaborations and engaging in different projects, and she is thrilled to be part of the NETHATE Consortium.