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PhD Studentship in Psychology: The epistemic emotion "awe" and its effect on attitudes and motivated information processing

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

Theme: Social Psychology / Cognitive Psychology

Lead supervisor: Dr Gosia Goclowska, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, email: M.A.Goclowska@bath.ac.uk

Collaborators: Dr Marret Noordewier and Dr Michiel van Elk, Leiden University

This PhD will ask: Do feelings of awe and wonder improve desirable attitudes and motivate people to learn and carefully process information? 

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.

Beauties of nature and exceptional achievements evoke an intense emotional response, best summarised as a sense of awe. Awe arises in reaction to experiences that are vast and that exceed people's expectancies (e.g., watching a starry sky or a breath-taking art installation). Drawing on insights from social and cognitive psychology this project will investigate the attitudinal and epistemic (i.e., knowledge-related) consequences of awe.

The project:

You will be based at the Social and Cultural Cognition Group at the University of Bath (with Dr. Gosia Goclowska), with the option of a secondment at Leiden University in the Netherlands (with Dr Michiel van Elk and/or Dr Marret Noordewier). You will be trained by academics who are internationally leading in their field and are committed to scientific excellence and reproducibility.

The PhD project will investigate whether experiences and feelings of awe have the potential to change attitudes regarding important topics such as health or the environment, and whether they motivate people to think (un)critically and seek information on those topics. You will conduct experimental and survey studies in the laboratory and in field settings, for instance in nature or in science and art exhibitions. Participants will undergo experiences evoking awe (vs. other epistemic emotions, e.g., curiosity), and you will measure a range of outcomes such as epistemic motivation, information seeking, or how participants respond to persuasion and misinformation.

The candidate:

You need to have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second-Class degree and/or a Master’s in Psychology or similar. You should be confident in survey and experimental research and motivated to further your statistical and analytical skills. An interest in one of the following areas (1) environmental attitudes (2) health attitudes (3) advanced quantitative methods would be beneficial.

Impact:

The results of your work will help us understand the utility of awe for improving attitudes and information processing regarding desirable (related to health or sustainability) attitudes.

Relevant papers:

Goclowska, M. A., Elliot, A., van Elk, M., Bulska, D., Thorstenson, C. A., & Baas, M. (2021). Awe arises in reaction to exceeded rather than disconfirmed expectancies. Emotion, in press. Linked PDF.

McPhetres, J. (2019). Oh, the things you don’t know: awe promotes awareness of knowledge gaps and science interest. Cognition and Emotion, 9931(33(8)), 1599–1615.

Stellar, J. E., Gordon, A., Anderson, C. L., Piff, P. K., McNeil, G. D., & Keltner, D. (2018). Awe and humility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114(2), 258–269.

How to apply:

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

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Gosia Goclowska: M.A.Goclowska@bath.ac.uk. To apply, please include your up-to-date CV, transcript of records and a recent first-authored empirical paper (i.e., scientific paper or coursework).

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