PhD Studentships

PhD Studentships

Applications are invited from excellent candidates in relation to the PhD projects described below. It is recommended that potential applicants contact the supervisors informally in the first instance. Applications can be made by submitting current CV and expression of interest document to

The expression of interest document should be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format, and should be no more than 500 words long. The applicant should describe their own suitability for the project (50% weighted) and how they would like to develop the project (50% weighted). Interested candidates may apply for PhD study throughout the year. However, several fully funded PhD studentships are available for PhD study starting autumn 2019. Studentships include stipend and EU fees. For non-EU applicants, a non-EU fee waiver may also be available. Selection for studentships will be competitive and will take place in May 2019. Shortlisted candidates should be available for interview before the end of May. The closing date for applications to the studentship competition is May 17th at 5pm.


Title: Dynamic attitude fixing in small groups and its implications for interactions in hybrid networks (containing humans and bots)

Supervisor: Dr Mike Quayle (

Understanding the coordination of attitudes in societies is vitally important for many disciplines and global social challenges. Network opinion dynamics are poorly understood, especially in hybrid networks where automated (bot) agents seek to influence economic or political processes (e.g. USA: Trump vs Clinton; UK: Brexit). As part of a broader project developing a network theory of attitudes, this PhD will experimentally investigate (a) if and how people coordinate attitudes in minimal groups; (b) the identity functions of attitude coordination; and (c) the impact of automated agents (bots) on attitude coordination.


Title: Cultural Differences in Heroism

Supervisors:  Dr. Eric R. Igou (informal inquiries to, Dr. Elaine L. Kinsella

Heroes are associated with particular characteristics (e.g., Kinsella, Ritchie, & Igou, 2015a) and serve particular psychological and social functions (Kinsella, Ritchie, & Igou, 2015b). We argue that heroism (characteristics and functions) are culture-specific. In particular, there is strong reason to believe that heroes are conceptualised differently in societies where people are likely to adopt ‘independent’ self-contruals (e.g. USA, UK) compared to those where people are likely to adopt ‘interdependent’ self-contruals (e.g., Japan, China, Korea). This has important implications for the perception and existence of heroes, that is, for the type of heroes that might exist in different cultures in the eyes of people, and for the functions that heroes may serve.

We are seeking a PhD student to become part of our large, internationally highly regarded research programme on heroism, in Ireland (Elaine L. Kinsella, Eric R. Igou, University of Limerick) and the USA (e.g., Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan). Specifically, the PhD student will systematically examine 1) prototypical heroism characteristics in different types of societies 2) prototypical heroism functions in different types of societies. Further, the PhD student will explore potential applications of the cultural differences. The research methods will be predominantly quantitative. The goal is to publish the research in internationally highly respected journals.


Title: Utilisation of an inception cohort to longitudinally examine cognitive factors predicting poorer outcomes in young people with First Episode Psychosis.

Supervisor: Prof Donal Fortune (

Compared with other psychiatric disorders, Schizophrenia/psychosis has the highest total social burden of ‘disease’, which is increasing (WHO 2016). Rates of relapse from FEP are high, however over 20% of young people who have a first episode will not relapse even up to 10 years (Hui et al, 2019).  One of the principal factors involved in psychosis are neurocognitive deficits. These are now considered to be core symptoms of psychosis, and there is compelling evidence that some neurocognitive deficits manifest prior to the full clinical presentation of the syndrome, tend to be relatively persistent across the prodrome and into first episode psychosis (FEP), and are not particularly affected by pharmacological treatment. These neurocognitive deficits tend to show small to medium effect sizes (ES=-0.26 to -0.67) across most cognitive domains and are also likely to affect recovery from FEP. Indeed one recent study showed that people with FEP who had better short-term verbal memory performance were more likely to be relapse free after 10 years. Short-term verbal memory performance is however a relatively broad construct, and more work needs to be done to examine the nature of this and other neurocognitive deficits reported in the literature.  People experiencing FEP do not necessarily represent a homogenous group and there are likely to be significant protective factors involved in this area that may influence the nature of outcomes in FEP.  The PhD is oriented around the longitudinal examination of three theoretical positions on FEP in young people a) neurocognitive functioning and outcome, b) meta cognition and outcome, and c) self regulation - self identity and outcome.

Key work already done to support this PhD - Service collaboration and recruitment

The Early Intervention for Psychosis (EIP) is a National Clinical Programme in the Mental Health Directorate of the Health Services Executive (HSE).   The successful PhD student will join one of only three pilot demonstration sites for Early Intervention in psychosis in Ireland. We are currently piloting a range of inception assessments in this large demonstration site.


Title: Integrating new identities into the self-concept

Supervisor: Jenny Roth (

Being Irish, EU citizen, UL student, or a member of the local sports club – these and other group memberships constitute people’s social identities and are important for how people define themselves and react to others. However, changes in people’s life lead to changes in their group memberships. Increasingly, people are geographically mobile—as reflected in the current migration stream to European countries but also in migration between and within counties all over the world. These changes confront people with new identities. One of the major challenges that goes along with changes in-group membership is that people successfully integrate new identities into their self-concept. If integration of new and old identities fails, changes in-group membership may end in maladaptation, intergroup hostility, and discrimination. This project aims to test and extend predictions on the integration of new identities into the self-concept that are derived from a model based on cognitive consistency principles (Roth, Steffens, & Vignoles, 2018). The model suggests that the (in)compatibility of previous and new group memberships determines identity integration with consequences for intergroup attitudes and adaptation. The project will use a quantitative approach using survey and experimental methods. The PhD student will have the opportunity to collaborate internationally.