Psychology Leverhulme PhD Studentship – Does identity rhetoric boost online political messages?

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent, funded by the Leverhulme Trust (Principal Investigator: Dr Aleksandra Cichocka; Co-Investigators: Dr Jay Van Bavel, Dr Michal Kosinski, Dr Aleksandra Cislak). The studentship commences in January 2022.


This studentship is suitable for applicants who have or will have a Master’s degree or equivalent at merit or distinction level in Psychology or another relevant subject area by October 2021.

The studentship award covers your tuition fees at the Home rate (£4,500 per annum in 2021-22) and additionally provides you with a stipend (£15,609 per annum in 2021-22) for maintenance.

Research Project

The studentship, starting in January 2022, will be part of the Leverhulme-funded grant project titled “Does identity rhetoric boost online political messages?” which aims to:

(1) create a dictionary of linguistic indices of different forms of national identity,

(2) test whether the presence of identity language in political messages increases their popularity and diffusion online, and impacts political outcomes,

(3) examine whether these messages are especially effective when targeted at individuals with particular political orientations or psychological predispositions.

The studentship will primarily focus on the last two aims: testing the causal effects of identity rhetoric with experimental studies. It will require (a) designing experimental studies, (b) collecting data in laboratory and on-line settings, (c) analysing data, and (d) supporting the project investigators and the project’s post-doctoral research assistant in dictionary development. Furthermore, the successful applicant for the studentship—consecutively referred to as the student—will be involved in the dissemination of the project findings (conference presentations, publications).

The student will work closely with and be supervised by Dr Aleksandra Cichocka throughout the research process (developing methods, data collection, analysis) and will work in close collaboration with all Co-Investigators and Post-Doc working on the project.

The student will be part of the Political Psychology Lab at the School of Psychology located on the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent. For more information, see the School’s website.


The competition is open to applicants of all student fee paying statuses; however, this studentship covers fees at the Home rate only. This means that EU and International students are required to make up the difference in fees.

Please note that current Kent PhD students are not eligible for this award.

How to apply

All completed applications received by 17.00 (UK time) on 1 November 2021 will be considered.

Completed applications must comprise all of the following:

  • Submission of a KentVision application for a Psychology PhD place in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent including:
    • A transcript of degree undergraduate and postgraduate marks to date and certificate, if available, in pdf format.
    • The names and email addresses of two academic referees. References must also be received by 17.00 (UK time) on 1 November 2021. Please leave a suitable amount of time for your referees to respond to the reference request which is sent automatically upon submission of the PhD application in KentVision.
    • A current CV in pdf format.
  • Submission of a 1-2 page covering letter which explains why you should be considered for the Psychology Leverhulme PhD Studentship. This should be sent directly to and should include the KentVision application ID number. If you have any specific questions about the scholarship, please write to Dr Aleksandra Cichocka at

Please note that the PhD application form in KentVision includes fields and word count guidelines that are not specific to consideration for this competition so please ensure that you follow the procedures listed above. In fields such as ‘Reasons for study’ and ‘Research proposal’ you are welcome to write ‘See Application for Psychology Leverhulme PhD Studentship’.

Deadline for completed applications (including references) is 17.00 (UK time) on 1 November 2021. The shortlisting process will start from 2 November, 2021 and interviews will be held in the week commencing Monday 8 November. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover travel costs but will arrange Zoom/Teams interviews where appropriate.