PhD Studentship: The Impact of a Materialistic Value Orientation on Children’s Well-Being

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2018

Project title: The impact of a materialistic value orientation on children’s well-being

Supervisors:  Dr Helga Dittmar (University of Sussex) and Dr Megan Hurst (University of Sussex)

A materialistic value orientation (MVO) is the long-term endorsement of values, goals, and associated beliefs that centre on the importance of acquiring money and possessions that convey status. We know from a recent meta-analysis that MVO is robustly linked to lower personal well-being, including lower subjective well-being, more negative emotions, more negative self-appraisals, greater mental health symptoms, and worse physical health (Dittmar, Bond, Hurst, & Kasser, 2014, JPSP). The great majority of studies carried out to date is correlational and uses adults. This project addresses two major research gaps by examining MVO in children and using a combination of longitudinal and experimental designs to address the causal direction of the MVO-well-being link and underlying psychological processes. Children’s well-being in the UK is particularly low, and materialistic values were flagged up as an important putative cause in a UNICEF-funded project (, and have already been shown to damage children’s learning and school performance (Ku, Dittmar, & Banerjee, 2014, JPSP). The project will be carried out within the Identity, Consumer Culture, and Well-being research lab (, and builds on the Children’s Consumer Culture Project (, both headed by Helga Dittmar.

Applications should be made by Sunday 21st January 2018

  • Studentship awards will be based on a competitive process, including interview. There are two types of awards available: +3 studentships, which fund a three-year full-time PhD, and 1+3 studentships, which fund a one-year Master’s degree followed by a three-year full-time PhD. Full-time studentship covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance (currently £14,553 per annum).
  • The competitive awards are funded by the School of Psychology (+3, eligibility: Home or EU residency); the ESRC (1+3 or +3, eligibility at South-East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS); or the Chancellor’s International Research Scholarship (+3, eligibility at Chancellor's International Research Scholarship (2018).
  • 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 your application online for the ‘PhD in Psychology’ programme for September 2018 through this link
  • In the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section of your application form, please put name of supervisor
  • In the ‘Proposed source of funding’ as School of Psychology and/or SeNSS, or CIRS).

Candidates should provide:

  • A research proposal that outlines your knowledge of the research area, hypotheses that could be addressed in your PhD, 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.
  • 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 Helga Dittmar via email:

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South East England