Graduate Teaching Assistant/PhD in the Psychology of Sustainable Behaviour



This PhD will be in the area of sustainability and is part of a growing research emphasis at Edge Hill University on this strategically important domain.  The main theme of the PhD will be to try to understand and change consumer habits in the light of the growing threat posed by climate change.  The PhD will be based in the Department of Psychology with a theoretical emphasis on the role of automatic and implicit processes in guiding much of our everyday behaviour, including our everyday consumer behaviour.  The core methodology will involve various psychological measures of implicit processes including the Implicit Association Test as well as eye-tracking to determine how consumers process, or fail to process, information relevant to more sustainable lifestyles, the information being contained in adverts, information leaflets and carbon labels on products.  The research may also want to consider basic personality features of individuals that may predispose them to act in more sustainable ways and to respond to persuasive messages about the environment.

A core part of the PhD will be devoted to attempting to influence and change implicit attitudes to the environment and in evaluating the success of any such interventions.  But as David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, recently wrote in The Observer (18/8/13): ‘None of the complex challenges we face today – climate change, an ageing population, terrorism – will be solved by one subject alone.’  As such there are exciting opportunities to conduct multi-disciplinary research in this area with other departments at Edge Hill including Media (the effects of advertising on emotional responses to the environment), Education (the design of educational programmes to change how children think, and feel, about climate change and the carbon footprint of products), Drama (the effects of film and theatre on implicit values to the environment; the psychological implications of role consistent and role inconsistent behaviour in this domain), Sociology (the social organisation of consumption and habitual consumer behaviour) etc. Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrable research interests in implicit processing, attitudes and behaviour change, or communication and persuasion.  The Graduate Teaching Assistant position will require the post-holder to teach six hours per week. 

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Essential knowledge, skills and experience

  • A good degree in a relevant discipline.
  • The ability to conduct high quality research in social psychology in the area of sustainability, evidenced through either a Master’s degree or the equivalent in high quality journal publications.
  • The necessary skills to teach in a department/university with excellent NSS ratings.

Desirable knowledge, skills and experience

  • Some research experience in the area of implicit processing and the measurement of implicit attitudes and/or research experience in evaluating the effects of communication and persuasive messaging.
  • Some experience in the use of eye-tracking and similar approaches to measure implicit processing.
  • Some experience of working in schools/colleges.
  • Some experience of multi-disciplinary research.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof. Geoff Beattie, [email protected]   

To contact the Graduate School for an application form, please click on the Apply button below.

The closing date is Friday 27 September 2013

Interviews will be held on Friday 25 October 2013

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