"You told me it would be OK"

This project aims to investigate how instructions modulate psychophysiological responses to potentially threatening stimuli.

Department: Psychology

Supervised by: Carien van Reekum

The Placement Project

Information about upcoming events can change our expectations. For example, if someone tells you that last year’s exam was easy, you may have different expectations of this year’s exam difficulty. Previous research has shown that presenting information before threatening events can change the level of responding. However, some individuals may be more or less receptive to information about upcoming events. Recently, we found individuals who find uncertainty anxiety provoking, benefited from receiving information about threat and safety cues. Further research is needed to understand how instructions alter threat responding, which may have implications for anxiety treatment. The aim of the current research placement is to assess how instruction and individual differences in uncertainty-related anxiety modulate physiological responses during threatening contexts.


The student will have the opportunity to undertake a wide range of research tasks as part of the placement: (1) participant recruitment, (2) data collection, (3) data analysis, and (4) report-writing. The student will receive hands on training on how to use psychophysiology software and hardware, and how to analyse these data.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The student is expected to have a background in psychology with a keen interest and enthusiasm for the study of affective neuroscience, psychopathology, and research methods (i.e. psychophysiology). Competence with computers and statistics is essential.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will gain insight into the building blocks of experimental research in psychology as they will see the project go from testing to completion. Given the strong focus on psychophysiology, the student will have hands on experience of examining skin conductance and heart rate responses. Furthermore, the student will receive training on how to use specialised experimental software for psychophysiology. The placement is likely to lead to co-authorship on a publication.

Place of Work

The student will be provided desk space and PC access within the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences.

Hours of Work

regular office hours

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 18 June 2018 - Friday 27 July 2018

How to Apply

The post will be advertised centrally on the UROP website between 19th February and 29th March 2018. We will ask students to apply by sending a CV and statement to the PI (click on supervisor name at the top of the page for email). Interviews will take place in the spring term. The PI and second supervisor will conduct the interviews and provide feedback for those who are unsuccessful.

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