2020 applicants
Postgraduate Research Opportunities

ASMR and Mindfulness Meditation for student wellness and resilience


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

Based in: Department of Psychology (in collaboration with the School of Health and Social Care)

This opportunity is now closed. View our open opportunities.


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).

The project

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.


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.

How to apply

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.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "Psychology", tick "postgraduate research" and hit "search". This will bring up a list of matching courses, select the one marked "full time" and "PhD".
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (SCH36: ASMR and Mindfulness Meditation for student wellness and resilience)
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the lead supervisor (Dr Giulia Poerio)

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr Giulia Poerio (g.poerio@essex.ac.uk)

You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).

Student and academic working at a board together
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