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PhD Studentship in Psychology: Soothing Fears and Bolstering Bravery: Parent Socialization of Emotion in Young Anxious Children

University of Bath

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, International Students
Funding amount: Fully funded, see advert for details
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 26th October 2021
Closes: 14th January 2022

Lead supervisor:     Dr Jennifer Allen, Department of Psychology, University of Bath,
email: ja980@bath.ac.uk

Co-supervisor: Professor Helen Dodd (Exeter)

This PhD will ask:

What is the role of parenting in the socialization of emotions in young anxious children?

Background:

This project is being advertised as one that is in competition for a fully funded studentship. The successful candidate would work with the proposed supervisor to put forward an application to the ESRC South-West Doctoral Training Partnership.

The project would aim to understand how parents can best support anxious children to manage strong negative emotions during challenging situations, and to bolster positive emotions when children display bravery. For young children especially, the way that parents respond to their child's displays of emotion influences how they understand and manage emotions. However, past research has focused on older children and negative emotions, despite the early onset of anxiety disorders and evidence for the role of parental ‘dampening’ of positive emotions in perpetuating emotional difficulties.

The project and training:

If successful, you would work directly with families and receive training in family observation methods (parent-child reminiscing conversations, parent-child play, parent-child exposure task), diagnostic interviewing and projective techniques with young children (doll play and story stem completion). You would also develop coding schemes for these tasks by integrating cognitive-behavioural and emotion socialization models of the development of anxiety in children.

In the first year you would complete a secondment at the College for Medicine and Health at University of Exeter, hosted by Professor Helen Dodd, an international expert on child adventurous play and healthy risk-taking, where you would undertake training in observational methods to assess parent-child play interaction.

Following this secondment, you would assess child anxiety symptoms and parent socialization of emotion in children in a short-term longitudinal study featuring three data collection points over a 1-year period. You would ask parents to complete an interview and questionnaires assessing their child’s anxiety symptoms and their responses to their child’s displays of emotion, including both negative (e.g., fear, sadness) and positive emotions (e.g., happy, proud) at 3 separate timepoints. You would also work with families to complete observation tasks (parent-child play, emotion reminiscing conversations, graded exposure task) and a projective task (doll play and story stem completion).

You would learn transferable skills in child and family observation methods as well as projective techniques relating to child anxiety symptoms and parenting (under the supervision of Dr Allen), and statistical modelling of longitudinal data (under Professor Dodd’s supervision). This unique training and skillset will put you at the forefront of cutting-edge research in developmental psychopathology, ensuring you are highly sought after for post-doctoral positions and employment.

Impact:

The results of your work would improve our understanding of parental responses to children’s emotions as a potential therapeutic target in young anxious children. This work would progress our understanding of the role of parental emotion socialization in supporting their child to develop the confidence and independence needed to achieve their unique potential.

This project is for October 2022 entry. Full proposals are due 14th January 2022, and interested candidates are advised to contact Dr Allen as soon as possible in order to allow time to develop a competitive application.

How to apply:

Potential candidates should express their interest in developing a studentship application on this topic by emailing Dr Allen (ja980@bath.ac.uk)

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