Aino Petterson is a first-year PhD student in Social Psychology at the University of Kent, whose multidisciplinary thesis examines people’s attitudes towards reproductive technologies such as gene-editing, in vitro fertilization and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Her supervisory team is Professor of Social Psychology Robbie Sutton, Professor of Genetics Darren Griffin and Professor of Family and Parenting Research Ellie Lee.
About her research project Aino said: ‘I think it is very interesting how our minds often go straight to dystopian, science-fiction visions of the future à la “Gattaca” or newspaper headlines like “Three parent babies” and “Designer babies” when advancements are made in the field of reproductive technology. What is it that make some people concerned about these technologies? Why are others not concerned at all? These are some of the questions I hope to address in my thesis, and I think a multidisciplinary approach is the ideal way to do so.’
Aino is not new to the topic of reproduction; as a postgraduate at Kent she examined how sexist ideology, and particularly hostile sexism, is related to the view that it is OK for men to exert control over women’s decisions in pregnancy, childbirth and abortion – including both the right to veto a spouse’s decision to have an abortion and to withdraw financial support for the child if she chooses not to terminate her pregnancy. Aino had this idea when she was second year undergraduate attending a talk Robbie held on sexism, and has now been published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly. She also had a book chapter accepted on censorial and punitive attitudes to science with Robbie together with Dr. Bastiaan Rutjens from the University of Amsterdam.