PhD Studentships in Psychology 2020- Deadline this Friday at 5pm!

Applications are invited from excellent candidates in relation to the PhD projects described below. It is recommended that potential applicants contact the supervisors informally prior to applying. Interested candidates may apply for PhD study throughout the year. However, a number of fully funded PhD studentships are available for PhD study starting autumn 2020. Studentships include a stipend and EU fees. For non-EU applicants, a non-EU fee waiver may also be available, but this cannot be guaranteed (a difference of approximately €6000p.a.). Selection for studentships will be competitive and will take place in May/June 2020. Shortlisted candidates should be available for interview in late May/early June for a virtual interview. Note that admission to the faculty of Education and Health Sciences to undertake a PhD degree is a separate process.

Applications can be made by submitting (1) a current two-page academic CV and (2) an expression of interest document to with the subject PhD Studentship Application. The expression of interest document should be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format, and should be no more than two pages. The applicant should describe their own suitability for the project (50% weighted) and how they propose to develop the project (50% weighted). Queries about the process can be made to

The closing date for applications to the studentship competition is May 22nd at 5pm (Irish Standard Time). We reserve the right to not make an award.


Project 1

Title: Correlates and health implications of loneliness in young adults

Supervisors: Dr. Ann-Marie Creaven ( & Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin

Loneliness is a subjective negative experience that results from perceiving our social relationships to be inadequate. Although loneliness is often viewed as an issue only for older adults, it can be experienced across the lifespan. In fact, young adults have comparable, if not higher, levels of loneliness relative to older adults. This PhD will examine factors associated with, and health consequences of loneliness specifically in young adult samples. Naturally, we are seeking a student with a keen interest in the topic of loneliness in young adults. In addition, the ideal candidate will also have an interest in developing key methodological skills (primarily, quantitative statistical analysis skills but also, qualitative and systematic review skills). The PhD is supervised by Dr. Creaven and Dr. Ó Súilleabháin; however, the candidate will also engage with external experts in loneliness and public health to inform the development, conduct, and dissemination of the research.


Project 2

Title: On Diminishing Existential Conflicts: The Role of Gratitude

Supervisors: Dr Eric R. Igou (, Dr Andrew Moynihan, Dr Elaine L. Kinsella, Wijnand van Tilburg (University of Essex).

Project Description: People are likely to experience various existential threats such as boredom, regret, or disillusionment. (e.g., Igou, Van Tilburg, Kinsella, & Buckley, 2018; Maher, Igou, & Van Tilburg, 2020; Van Tilburg & Igou, 2018). Besides this notion, our research proposal builds on the idea that gratitude has positive effects on well-being and meaning in life (for an overview see: Specifically, we argue that people high (vs. low) in treat gratitude and actual experiences of gratitude reduce the effects of existential threats and meaning search processes that typically follow these threats.

We are seeking a PhD student to become part of our large, internationally highly regarded research programme on existential emotions. Specifically, the PhD student will systematically examine 1) how gratitude is negatively associated with existential threat experiences, and 2) how gratitude reduces such experiences and their associated meaning search processes. Besides examining these fundamental psychological processes, the research seeks to contribute to insights that allow for the development of interventions programmes in everyday life and in specific applied areas.


Project 3

Title: Brexit at the border: How an UK-Ireland border affects intergroup relations and well-being in Northern Ireland

Supervisors: Orla Muldoon (, Jenny Roth (, Mike Quayle

The Northern Irish conflict has been amongst the most intense and violent ones in Europe. It is mostly a conflict between Irish nationalists who wish to be united with the Republic (South) of Ireland and the British unionists who wish to remain part of the UK. After 30 years of extreme instability, conflict and violence, in 1998 the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement initiated more peaceful times. With this agreement and the help of the EU context, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland became decreasingly important. Additionally, the EU context provided a superordinate, inclusive identity to being British, Irish, or both. Now that Brexit turned into reality, intergroup harmony in Northern Ireland is at risk. Brexit potentially means the reinstallation of (custom) borders. Depending on where the border will be established it may threaten British unionist’s identity or Irish nationalist’s identity. The goal of this project is to investigate the effects of the decision of the border and its implementation on group identity, intergroup relations, and well-being in Northern Ireland. The project will use a quantitative approach using survey and experimental methods. The PhD student will have the opportunity to collaborate internationally.


Project 4

Title: Putting Us into Heroism: The Psychology of Heroism and Social Movements

Supervisors: Dr. Elaine Kinsella ( and Dr. Eric Igou

When you think of a hero you likely think of an individual. A person who shows some of the prototypical characteristics of a hero including bravery, moral integrity, courage, conviction, honesty, and willingness to protect others, humility, risk-taking and self-sacrifice (see Kinsella, Ritchie & Igou, 2015a). Yet, throughout history, heroes and exceptional leaders have inspired others to join a cause, get behind a social movement, and take action as a collective. What is it about a hero that catalyses the formation of a group? What is it about a particular hero that provides direction and clarity to an existing group? When and how do heroes energize a group of people or society to take action where apathy had previously prevailed? So far, research on the influence of heroes has begun to uncover how individual heroes influence individual others (see Kinsella, Ritchie, & Igou 2015b), yet, we are only beginning to examine and understand the role of collectives in heroism. Heroes shape groups and communities, and individuals as well as collectives can act heroically. We are looking for exceptional candidates to join our team and carve out the novel programme on social influence and collectivism in heroism. This will include dedication to conceptual work and empirical studies while benefitting from exceptional supervision and inclusion into existing research structures (e.g., RISE lab, COMPASS lab, Centre for Social Issues Research).


Project 5

Title: An examination of the associations between personality traits, cardiovascular disease, and resulting risk of mortality

Supervisor: Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin (

A large body of replicated research has demonstrated that personality traits are of crucial importance to health (Ferguson, 2013), and longevity (Jokela et al., 2013, O’Súilleabháin & Hughes, 2019). One possible pathway to account for these associations is cardiovascular disease. This project will seek to understand the associations between personality traits, related biopsychosocial factors, cardiovascular disease, and how these relationships result in risk of premature mortality. This has important implications for our understanding of how some people develop cardiovascular disease, and what this might mean for our longevity. We are seeking a PhD student to become part of our ongoing international programme of research (led by Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin; University of Limerick) with co-supervision from Prof. Stephen Gallagher (University of Limerick) and Prof. Angelina Sutin (Florida State University). This project will also have opportunities to collaborate with other international researchers. The research methods will be quantitative and a student’s interest in developing skills in SPSS and in using other statistical software (namely MPlus) will be important. Informal queries surrounding this position can be directed to Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin.