PhD Studentship - Moral judgement dimensions of pro-environmental motivation and action

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2017

Project title: Moral judgement dimensions of pro-environmental motivation and action

Supervisors: Dr Paul Sparks and Dr Tom Farsides (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

Why do people engage (or not engage) in pro-environmental actions, such as recycling, reducing the number of flights they take, turning lights off in rooms that are not being used, buying environmentally-friendly consumer products, taking part in environmental activism? The impact of many of these actions on the mitigation of environmental problems has been argued to be miniscule, even when actions are repeated by an individual many times over. At a collective level, the combined effects of many individuals’ actions will be considerably greater but may still be imperceptible at a global level.

The programme of research will investigate people’s motives for engaging or not engaging in such actions and will focus on the role of moral judgements in these decisions. It might draw upon ideas about, for example, concern with consequentialist or deontological arguments in people’s decisions, the role of moral emotions, the role of moral deliberation vs. moral intuitions, moral distance, the affect heuristic, the role of the perceived identity appropriateness of actions, the extent to which people underestimate or overestimate the effects of their actions, temporal discounting, reactance effects, and the role of moral licensing processes in influencing people’s choices.

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 supervisor, Dr Paul Sparks and Dr Tom Farsides, 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 Paul Sparks:

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