Funding and Finance BBSRC MRes/PhD Studentship The Personal Benefits of Helping Others: does acting pro-socially improve well-being

Reference Code: IN057

Name of the supervisors
Dr G Roberts, Institute of Neuroscience (IoN)

Professor M Bateson, IoN

This studentship is sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as part of the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).

Duration of the award
4 years (MRes Evolution and Human Behaviour followed by a three-year PhD).

Project description
Helping others is widely thought to make people feel good. This project aims to experimentally investigate the relationship between behaving pro-socially and improved well-being. Our experiments will include presenting recruited participants with economic games in which the strategic motivation to be seen to be co-operative is varied. A range of tests accompanying the trials will assess physiological and psychological measures including affective state. We predict that giving increases measures of well-being and that these benefits may account, in mechanistic terms, for why people may do things for the benefit of others, even when this is against their own economic self-interest, at least in the short term. Cross-disciplinary training will be provided in evolutionary game theory, experimental economic methods, and cognitive and psychological testing. As well as having applied significance in terms of showing how we may promote pro-social behaviour, the work will be of theoretical importance in terms of understanding why humans are so co-operative.

Value of the award and eligibility
Depending on how you meet the BBSRC’s eligibility criteria (PDF 65KB) you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. A full award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £13,726 (2013/14). A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only. Please note: the eligibility criteria document has been produced by the BBSRC and may be subject to change. The document is located on the BBSRC’s website.

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Person specification
You should have, or expect to obtain a UK first degree (first-class or upper- second-class), or equivalent, in a subject relating to the behavioural sciences, including psychology, biological and medical sciences.

How to apply
You must apply by clicking ‘Apply’ below, inserting the reference number IN057 and selecting ‘Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences) – Neuroscience’ as the programme of study. Only mandatory fields need to be completed (no personal statement required) and a covering letter, CV and (if English is not your first language) a copy of your English language qualifications must be attached. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the reference number IN057 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project.

You should also send your covering letter and CV to:
Dr Gilbert Roberts, Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience, Henry Wellcome Building, Medical School, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, (e-mail:

Closing date for applications
Prompt application is advised as this post is only available until a suitable candidate is appointed.

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