Fully Funded PhD Studentship in Depression

Howard Morton Trust 

Students with a high 2(1) or first class undergraduate degree in Psychology are invited to apply for this studentship, which is offered for a three year period to support research in relation to depression and is to be held within the Department of Psychology starting 1 October 2013. 

Project: Can compassion meditation training reduce self-disgust, shame, and improve symptoms of depression 

Supervisors: Drs Andrew Thompson, Anastasia Lavda and Prof Paul Overton 

Contact: a.r.thompson@sheffield.ac.uk

Disgust is a powerful emotion with clear evolutionary origins and there is emerging evidence that there may be a causal relationship between appearance based aspects of self-disgust and depression with self-disgust paying a mediating role between cognitive processing and symptoms of depression (Overton et al., 2008; Powell et al., 2013). Self-disgust is conceptually closely related to the construct of body-shame and both constructs may account for the increased risk of depression in individuals living with an altered appearance (Gilbert & Miles, 2002; Thompson & Kent, 2001). Whilst there is some evidence that compassion focussed therapy and compassion focussed self-help has the potential to successfully reduce symptoms of depression (e.g. Kelly et al., 2009), research in this area is in its infancy and has failed to examine the efficacy of such approaches in addressing self-disgust. The proposed project would seek to begin to address this gap. The usability of a range of existing techniques developed to teach self-compassion or self-soothing would be examined using mixed methods (e.g. focus group, single case methods, think aloud interviewing). The results of this primary stage of the research would facilitate the choice/development of techniques to be used in a feasibility trial of self-help with a population with clinical levels of depression. It is envisaged that the data provided by the feasibility trial would also enable questions about the relationship between self-disgust, body shame, and depression to be addressed. 

Also Read  MPhil/PhD studentship in Philosophy and/or Social Studies of Science

Candidates are encouraged to contact the named supervisor directly prior to any application and should specify the project area of interest in their application. Please note there are other projects in competition for this studentship. 

Full details can be found on the following page:


The Trust provides a fee bursary and financial support at the basic Research Council rate (£13,726 per annum in 2013-14), plus support for Research Training (£500 per annum). 

Informal enquiries to Professor Gillian Hardy are welcome:

Email: g.hardy@sheffield.ac.uk

Tel: 0114 2226568. 

To make an application:

Please see the following page for details of how to apply:


For enquiries regarding the application process please contact:

Angela Young
Postgraduate Secretary
Department of Psychology
Western Bank
S10 2TP 

Email: a.young@sheffield.ac.uk

Tel: 0114 2226564, Fax: 0114 2766515

Closing date for applications is the 30 August 2013.  Interviews will be held during the week beginning 9 September 2013.

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