Deadline: 2016-02-04
Value of Scholarship: Exeter
Level Of Study: PhD

ESRC SWDTC Studentship: How do beliefs, attitudes and expectations about ageing influence lifestyle choices for cognitive health maintenance in over 50s?

The University of Exeter is pleased to be offering a total of up to 22 ESRC funded 1+3 or +3 studentships, including any collaborative projects, as part of the South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) for entry in 2016-17. Within the DTC, the College of Life and Environmental Sciences is currently inviting applications for the project entitled: How do beliefs, attitudes and expectations about ageing influence lifestyle choices for cognitive health maintenance in over 50s? . This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding. Studentships will be awarded on the basis of merit and strategic fit with the aims of the DTC.

For eligible UK/EU students the full time studentship will cover fees and an annual Research Council stipend of at least £14,057 (2015-16 rate) for up to three years (+3 award) or four years (1+3 award).

For the 1+3 studentships we would require you to register initially on one of the following Masters programmes:

MSc Psychological Research Methods (Streatham campus)

MSc Social and Organisational Psychology (Streatham campus)

For the +3 studentships we would require you to register on the MPhil/PhD Psychology (Streatham campus).

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their applications with the supervisors prior to submission.


Professor Linda Clare, Psychology (University of Exeter) Director of the Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH).

Professor Ian Rees Jones, (Cardiff University) Director of the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD).

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Professor Kaarin Anstey, (Australian National University) Director of the Centre for Research Excellence in Promoting Cognitive Health and Preventing Cognitive Decline.

Project Description

Alterations in potentially-modifiable lifestyle behaviours in mid-life and the early stages of ageing can significantly improve cognitive health in later life and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. There is a need to understand how best to motivate people to change their behaviour in ways that will support continued mental fitness. This project will examine how attitudes to ageing, and beliefs and expectations about age-related change, relate to lifestyle and behaviour choices relevant to maintaining cognitive health in people aged 50 – 75, and will identify the extent to which beliefs and expectations mediate the relationship of individual psychological and social resources with lifestyle and behaviour. The impact of individual beliefs, expectations and attitudes will be examined by analysing Australian data from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research national survey on cognitive health and collecting comparable data in the UK. New data will be collected in the UK in order to examine in detail the way in which the experience of age-related change influences lifestyle and behaviour. Paradigms recently developed by our group will be extended to investigate the extent to which the subjective experience of age-related change in cognitive functioning corresponds to objectively-defined changes in cognitive ability on tasks known to be sensitive to cognitive ageing, and determine whether good or poor correspondence differentially relates to changes in lifestyle and behaviour. The findings will indicate new ways of personalising information and key messages about lifestyle change. The new understandings that emerge from these analyses will be applied in the development and feasibility testing of interventions to promote cognitive health, particularly in ‘at-risk’ groups, and methodologies to increase the ‘reach’ of interventions to population sub-groups who are less likely to access interventions in real life due to health, motivational, socio-demographic or cultural issues.

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