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PhD Studentship: Investigating the link between attentional biases and holistic perception, and their functional roles in changing behaviour

Loughborough University - School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th May 2019
Closes: 30th June 2019
Reference: SSEHS/TW

Application details:

Reference number: SSEHS/TW

Start date of studentship: 1st October 2019

Closing date of advert: 30th June 2019

Interview date: Week commencing 29th July 2019 


Primary supervisor: Dr Thomas Wilcockson

Secondary supervisors: Dr Carolyn Plateau and Dr Edwin Burns 


Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

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The School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences has been ranked 1st in the world for Sport-related Subjects (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017, 2018 and 2019). 

Full Project Detail:

This is an exciting opportunity to investigate a new theory of visual salience which would have implications for a number of areas of cognitive psychology e.g. addiction, face perception, phobias, and eating disorders. Attentional bias is the preferential processing of stimuli, which have developed increased saliency for particular populations (e.g., alcohol-related stimuli for heavy drinkers). Substance abusers, for instance, have an attentional bias for substance-related stimuli. Performance on attentional bias tasks has been found to predict relapse and treatment outcome for substance abusers.

Recently we discovered that there is a relationship between attentional biases and holistic processing. This finding may have implications for how we consider visual salience and may have applications for different clinical groups. We therefore anticipate this PhD position would lead to the student developing into one of the first researchers in the world to work on this novel area of cognition. We expect the research findings to translate into high impact journal articles with broad appeal.

The research would enable the PhD student to work with several interesting populations: substance abusers, behavioural addictions, eating disorders, people with phobias, and athletes.  A number of cognitive tasks will be administered, and the PhD student would be taught how to program their own cognitive tasks. We will also work towards creating an intervention which could help with the maladaptive cognitions that affect substance abuse, disordered eating, and phobias. 

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Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Psychology or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or relevant research experience will be an advantage. 

Funding information:

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £14777 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. International (non-EU) students may apply however the total value of the studentship will cover the International Tuition Fee Only.

Contact details:

Name: Dr Thomas Wilcockson

Email address:

Telephone number: +44(0)1509 225434 

How to apply: 

All applications should be made online at  Under programme name, select “School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences”.   

Please quote reference number: SSEHS/TW

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