PhD in the Social Signals of Interpersonal Trust

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year EPSRC DTP PhD studentship in the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) at Lancaster University. Beginning October 2019, the student will be based in Psychology and supervised by Professor Paul Taylor, Drs Stacey Conchie and David Ellis.

The PhD will examine how trust among individuals and small groups can be measured from ubiquitous behavioural data streams, such as email, social media and phone usage. By applying established and new measures at a scale larger than studied previously, the PhD will seek to understand how our day-to-day acts shape our social relations over time and across groups. The kinds of questions the PhD might address include: Is it possible to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships? How is trust gained rapidly? What are the roles of particular psychological factors (e.g., identity, emotions) that affect trust? What is the impact of external events on trust and when does it break down?

You will join a growing group of academic, postdoc and PhDs engaged in projects examining the use of analytics to inform our understanding of, and ability to measure, the interpersonal dynamics among security threat actors. As part of this group, you will be expected to contribute to meetings, present findings at academic conferences, and publish findings in academic journals. You will also be a member of CREST and encouraged to engage with relevant stakeholders in the security and intelligence agencies, helping them understand the research and its relevance to their practice and policy.

This EPSRC DTC studentship provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a maintenance grant (currently £15,009). You will receive your own research support budgets (e.g., for training and to pay participants) and have access to an associated travel budget, which should be used to attend national and international conferences. Applicants who would be required to pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but they must make appropriate arrangements to cover the difference between the overseas and UK tuition fee.


  • You should be motivated, ambitious, and able to demonstrate an interest in the advertised PhD area.
  • You should hold, or expect to gain, at least an Upper 2.1 honours degree, or its equivalent, in a relevant discipline.
  • Having or expecting to gain a Masters qualification and/or having other research experience will be an advantage.

How to apply

To apply, please email the following to, using the Subject ‘PhD application.’:

  • A CV.
  • Transcript of marks.
  • 1 academic reference.
  • A 500 word statement outlining why you are interested in this PhD.

After the deadline, applications will be reviewed and shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview, before award decisions are made.


If you wish to discuss the studentship informally or if you have any questions about the position, please contact Paul Taylor (

Deadline: 28th March, 2019

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