PhD studentship Emotion and Text Comprehension



Supervisor:  Prof Alan Garnham and Prof Jane Oakhill (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

This project examines two complementary roles that emotion can play in text comprehension, both of which are under-researched.

First, in order to derive a coherent overall representation of a text, it is crucial to understand the emotions experienced by the characters and the impact of those emotions on the characters’ behaviour. These emotions are sometimes described explicitly, but often have to be inferred from other cues in the text.

Second, readers both bring emotions to reading a text and experience emotions as a result of reading the text. These emotions can be related, sometimes indirectly, to the emotions experienced by the text characters, and comprise one factor that determine readers’ emotional engagement with the text. There are considerable individual differences in such emotional engagement, including sex differences.

The project will establish techniques for measuring emotional engagement, and look at how it affects the inferences that readers draw. A key issue is whether emotional engagement (and individual differences therein) specifically affects inferences about emotions, or whether it also affects other inferences.                

One possible development of the project (and the student’s training) would be to use ERPs, either to characterise further some of the behavioural effects seen in inference about emotions, or to link with individual differences in emotional engagement (e.g. at the point of making particular text inferences).

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Both supervisors are highly experienced in supervising PhD students, and can provide a good lab environment and appropriate training for the project.

Applications should be made by Friday 17thJanuary 2014.

The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £13,726 per annum There is an expectation to contribute to teaching on a paid basis.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate.  Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements. For full details of eligibility see Annex 1: Residential guidelines at http://www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/ESRC-Postgraduate-Funding-Guide-DTCs_tcm8-14766.pdf
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

 Candidates should provide:

  • A research statement that briefly outlines our current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • A teaching-related statement that addresses the normal expectation that you contribute to teaching of statistics and research methods (up to 300 words).
  • A current transcript with full details of performance on all completed courses.

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