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Social Groups, Resilience, Health and Well-being

Background

Stress is a pervasive feature of modern life. Experiences ranging in intensity from major events, transitions and changes (e.g. illness, injury, marriage, divorce, war) to mundane occurrences (e.g. noise, interpersonal conflict, work demands, commuting) can all act as stressors, environmental elements that threaten a person’s psychological and physical well-being, and elicit strain, the psychological and physiological state of the individual in response to a stressor (e.g. anxiety, increased heart rate). This is particularly troubling given the negative implications of stress for mental and physical health and well-being (e.g. depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, illness, premature aging) and for decision making and behaviour (e.g. poor performance, smoking, excessive drinking).

The focus of the present research is on the social factors that contribute to stress management and reduction under different circumstances. Over 35 years of research suggests that social connections (i.e. the interpersonal and intragroup relationships that people have with others such as friends, partners, family, and social groups) are an important factor in shaping outcomes when contending with stressors. In particular, people who report having many (versus only a few) social connections exhibit lower levels of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress and make fewer negative self-evaluations. Impressively, having many and varied social connections has also been associated with less susceptibility to the common cold, slower disease progression, better cognitive functioning after stroke, and reduced mortality over time.

This PhD project will seek to identify and test the psychological and/or biological mechanism(s) through which social connections can promote resilience, health and well-being when facing stressors.

Requirements

  • For this position, a highly motivated, self-driven candidate is being sought.
  • Relevant background in social, health and/or biological psychology is required.
  • Interest and experience in psychophysics and/or psychoneuroendocrinology would be a definite asset.
  • Candidates should possess excellent knowledge of experimental research methods and data analysis.
  • An emerging track record of conference presentations and publications is a definite asset.

Eligibility

In order to qualify for funding from Ciência sem Fronteiras, applicants must be Brazilian nationals and are required to have at least an upper second class degree and a masters degree in a related discipline from a top university anywhere in the world. For more information visit the Ciência sem Fronteiras eligibility pages. To qualify for CONACYT, applicants must be Mexican nationals - find out more on the CONACYT pages.

International students must provide evidence of proficient English language skills, see our entry requirements page for further information.

Applying

  • Applicants should consult the project supervisor Dr Jones (j.jones@qmul.ac.uk) before submitting an application in order to discuss their experience, background and proposed topic.
  • If Dr Jones agrees to consider your application further she will ask you to submit your CV (including details of two referees), a personal statement describing your motivation and specific interest(s), and a short research proposal (maximum 2,000 words) identifying the general question(s) to be addressed, hypotheses, methods to be used, and the relevant literature.
  • Applications to Queen Mary and Ciência sem Fronteiras / CONACYT are accepted all year round but we encourage you to contact Dr Jones as soon as possible.
  • If you are successful we will give you an offer on the condition that you are given a funding award from Ciência sem Fronteiras /CONACYT. When you have received a conditional offer, apply directly to Ciência sem Fronteiras / CONACYT.

Self-funding

If you are interested in self-funding please contact Dr Jones (j.jones@qmul.ac.uk) to discuss your eligibility for this project.

See Also:

References:

  • Jetten, J., Haslam, S. A., Haslam, C., Dingle, G., & Jones, J. M. (2014). How groups affect our health and well-being: The path from theory to policy. Social Issues and Policy Research, 8, 103-130
  • Jones, J. M. & Jetten, J. (2011). Recovering from strain and enduring pain: Multiple group memberships promote resilience in the face of novel physical challenges. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 239-243
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