Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Ulster University Featured PhD Programmes
Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Kent Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Active Information Seeking, Online Information Availability and Political Trust

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  • Full or part time
    Dr Peter Allen
    Dr Iulia Cioroianu
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Over the past decades the UK has witnessed steady decreases in the overall levels of public trust in politics, as well as recent political tensions and scandals which have put into question the reputations of political institutions and actors. Considered vital for building trust, increased transparency has so far been the most common response to these events. However, studies seeking to evaluate the relation between transparency and political trust yield mixed results and the empirical evidence of causal effects points to the moderating role of individual attention, issues salience and framing. At the same time, digitalization, once heralded as a main driver of transparency leading to increased trust, has been recently linked to further erosions in political trust, also due, in part, to the mediating role of attention, selective information seeking and targeted exposure.

The proposed interdisciplinary PhD project rests on conceptual and theoretical foundations from political communication, political psychology and human-computer interaction studies, and seeks to evaluate the extent to which self-selection and algorithmic prescribing moderate the relation between the information sought and received by individuals online, and their levels of political trust. The research design takes advantage of the fact that digital platforms - such as the public-facing websites of government bodies - provide unique opportunities to study some of the overlooked aspects of the process of trust formation and loss, and implement novel causal identification strategies. Using a combination of online surveys, experiments and analyses of government website data, the research will provide insights into the understudied process of active information seeking (versus passive information exposure), its individual level determinants and its relation to digital information availability.

The research has direct policy applicability, as the findings can inform the government strategy for increasing public trust in political institutions and processes. Part of the project involves a placement with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, where the student will seek to identify ways in which the research findings can be used to design communication strategies which increase public trust in political institutions and processes.

Successful applicants will be expected to commence their PhD studies in September 2020.

Funding Notes

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact supervisors by 14 January 2020 for any enquiries before sending a formal online application.

For details regarding eligibility for SWDTP ESRC / URSA funding, please see here:

Please see the following link for details about how to submitting an application for funding:

How good is research at University of Bath in Area Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 26.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2020
All rights reserved.