Title: SCH36: ASMR and Mindfulness Meditation for student wellness and resilience
Funding: A full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (£5,103 in 2020-21) (further fee details - international students will need to pay the balance of their fees) plus a doctoral stipend equivalent to the RCUK Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 in 2020-21).
Application deadline: Tuesday 31 March 2020
Start date: October 2020
Duration: 3 years (full time)
Location: Colchester Campus
Poor mental health amongst students has made finding ways to support wellbeing an important issue for Universities.
This proposal investigates the potential of novel wellness techniques, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) and Mindfulness Meditation (MM) for improving student health, resilience and academic performance.
ASMR is a complex emotional response involving tingling sensations in the scalp accompanied by feelings of relaxation and euphoria. It is triggered by audio, visual, and tactile stimuli including whispering, soft-speaking and tapping. ASMR has anecdotal benefits such as reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia and recent research suggests it has reliable effects on mood and physiology (see http://bit.ly/ASMRScience).
Similar health benefits have been reported for MM but these positive outcomes typically require training, which is not necessary for ASMR. ASMR may have the potential to become a low-cost digital wellness tool with broad reach, from enhancing the student experience to helping lonely elderly. In addition to huge online communities, industry increasingly uses ASMR for advertising.
Despite its potential and growing popularity, there is hardly any rigorous scientific research on ASMR’s ostensibly beneficial claims (or potential harms).
We will test ASMR and MM effects on student physical and mental health (including stress and sleep), resilience and academic performance, using qualitative and quantitative measures: diary entries, questionnaires, academic performance, stress response (e.g., solving problems under time constraints) and associated psychophysiology (e.g., heart rate, brain imaging (EEG)) at different times throughout their studies.
The impact of this PhD project could lead to bigger funding from Healthcare grants (NIHR, MRC) or Education Strategic funding (Nuffield).
The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 in 2020-21), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.
Lead supervisorDepartment of Psychology, University of Essex
Dr Giulia Poerio has led and published research on ASMR and spearheads an interdisciplinary network for ASMR research using Open Science principles. Giulia also has expertise and high-profile publications in mental simulation and sleep, the measurement of emotion and wellbeing, and intensive longitudinal methods, all of which would ensure the delivery of the proposed project.
Co-supervisorSchool of Health and Social Care, University of Essex
Dr Barratt is a qualitative researcher with broad interest in mental health and wellbeing particularly amongst marginalised social groups. She is particularly interested in the wellbeing of students and the development of contemplative curricula and interventions which improve mental health. She has supervised 2 PhDs (1 to completion); 2 Professional Doctorates and 3 Doctorate in Clinical Psychology students (1 to completion). Caroline is also a trained mindfulness teacher at the university.
Co-supervisorDepartment of Psychology, University of Essex
Dr Gillmeister has been working with brain imaging (EEG) for nearly 20 years, and has many publications in top journals in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. Her work includes perception, attention and emotional processes, which she has recently applied to investigate the underlying brain mechanisms of ASMR.
To apply for this position the student will need to have either a BSc in Psychology or Cognitive Neuroscience, an MSc in Psychology, Research Methods or Cognitive Neuroscience, or equivalent degree in a disciple related to Health Science or Physiology.
You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.
Please include your CV, covering letter, personal statement, and transcripts of UG and Masters degrees in your application.
The University has moved to requiring only one reference for PhD applications and these can be received after a conditional offer has been made so the absence of these will not hold up the recruitment process.
When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:
If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr Giulia Poerio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).