PhD Studentship: The Psychology of Commitment

University of Sussex - School of Psychology

PhD studentship available for September 2018

Project title: The psychology of commitment

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

Commitment and its absence are central to many inspiring and devastating human practices. Extreme commitment to such things as causes and countries results in people being deemed heroes or terrorists. Weak commitment to such things as humanity and morality enables widespread bystander apathy while millions suffer and die for want of resources (e.g., blood, organs, money, time, sanctuary) that could have been provided with relatively little cost. Commitment to short-term gains often has disastrous longer-term (e.g., health or financial) consequences. Inadequate civic commitment can undermine public services (e.g., social care provision) and valued political ideals (e.g., democracy). Unwise and poorly prioritized commitments arguably threaten the continued existence of all life on earth.

This project will extend what is known about the psychology of commitment. The successful candidate will work with us to synthesize currently disparate relevant literatures, develop effective measures of commitment, and conduct empirical research which will investigate key causes, mechanisms, and consequences of commitment. The research program will be conducted with a strong commitment to ‘open science.’

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 Tom Farsides via email:

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South East England