PhD Studentship - The impact of parental anxiety on children's risky play experiences and the development of childhood fear and anxiety

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2017

Project title: The impact of parental anxiety on children's risky play experiences and the development of childhood fear and anxiety

Supervisor: Dr Kathryn Lester and Prof Andy Field (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

Over the past 50 years, opportunities for children to engage in risky play (thrilling play with a possibility of physical injury e.g. play at heights) have continually declined. However, depriving a child of risky play opportunities may increase risk for mental and physical health concerns. Childhood anxiety is highly prevalent and distressing, affecting up to 20% of children during their lifetime and is known to run in families. Despite this, both the function of risky play in the context of child anxiety, and the impact of parental anxiety on children’s risky play opportunities are unknown.

The successful applicant will develop a program of research focused on children’s play experiences, and the development of childhood fear and anxiety across childhood. This research will involve the development of new self-report, experimental, and observational measures of children’s participation in play activities, and parental attitudes, behaviour, and cognitions around risky play. The successful applicant will use these measures in a longitudinal study comprising laboratory based studies and naturalistic observations, including using experience sampling methodologies. These studies will investigate whether parental anxiety predicts children’s participation in risky play and how both relate to childhood fears and anxiety.

Applications should be made by Tuesday 10th January 2017. The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £14,296 per annum.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate ( Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements. For full details of eligibility, please check the ESRC guidelines.
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

  • Application procedures can be found here.
  • Please submit an online application for the ‘PhD in Psychology’ programme, for September 2017 entry through this link.
  • State in the ‘Funding information’ section of your online application that you are applying for this studentship, giving the title of the project as above and mention the supervisors, Dr Kathryn Lester and Prof Andy Field, in the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section.
  • The proposed source of funding should be specified as 'ESRC or School of Psychology’.

Candidates should provide:

  • A research statement that briefly outlines your current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses.
  • Two academic references.

For queries with respect to the application process please send an email for the attention of 'Postgraduate Coordinator' to:

To discuss the details of this PhD project further, please contact Dr Kathryn Lester:

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England