Anxious eyes

This project aims to investigate how individual differences in anxious disposition modulate attentional processes using eye-tracking.

Department: Psychology

Supervised by: Eugene McSorley

The Placement Project

In our everyday lives, we are confronted with a multitude of dynamic visual stimuli. However, because we have limited selective attention, only a subset of these stimuli can be focused on at any given time. The priority given to visual stimuli depends on many environmental factors such as the structure of the visual environment or the task demands determined by the goals purpose of our actions and underlying this is the extent to which we are certain of our environment. For example how sure are we that something threatening is not going to suddenly appear. Individuals differ in how they inherently perceive stimulus uncertainty with individuals who score high on self-reported intolerance of uncertainty tending to find uncertain situations anxiety provoking. Understanding how uncertainty modulates attentional mechanisms has implications for anxiety and stress-related disorders and their treatments. Given this, the focus of the current research placement is to assess how uncertainty and individual differences in intolerance of uncertainty modulate attention to visual stimuli using eye-tracking technology.


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 eye-tracking software and hardware, and how to analyse eye-tracking 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 emotion, psychopathology and research methods (i.e. eye-tracking). Competence with computers and statistics is desirable.

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 eye-tracking, the student will have hands on experience of examining the attentional processes associated with certain eye movements. Furthermore, the student will receive training on how to use specialised experimental software for eye-tracking. The placement is likely to lead to co-authorship on a publication.

Place of Work

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

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 20 June 2016 - Friday 29 July 2016

How to Apply

We will ask students to apply by sending a CV and statement to the PI. 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. The placement will start on Monday 20th June 2016 and end on Friday 29th July 2016.

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