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Do individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder benefit from Japanese anime cartoons when making emotion recognition judgements (RDF19/HLS/PSY/GREER)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Symptomatic of the developmental disorder Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an impaired ability in processing faces and emotions. The aim of the PhD is to investigate whether individuals ASD are able to benefit from Japanese anime cartoons when making emotion recognition judgements. Recent research suggests that, as individuals with ASD have a propensity to watch Japanese anime style cartoons, they may be able to better recognise the emotions portrayed in this style of cartoon compared to human faces or other formats such as Disney cartoons. Our pilot data indicate that children with high-functioning ASD are able to recognise emotions in Japanese anime cartoons at levels comparable to typically developing children matched for chronological age, but are significantly impaired in emotion recognition when faces are presented in Disney cartoon style. The proposed research has three key aims;

a) to fill the gap in the literature by investigating a the potential anime advantage / Disney disadvantage in emotion recognition abilities in a children and adolescents with ASD,

b) identify the different mechanisms used by individuals with ASD when viewing different cartoon media; this is of notable importance considering this group's preference for anime cartoons / comics.

c) inform the development of a targeted intervention to support the social skills of individuals with ASD.

Research techniques to be used within the programme of research include behavioural methodology to investigate the potential anime effect, and eye-tracking to identify the different mechanisms used by individuals with ASD when viewing anime cartoons compared to Disney cartoons and other cartoon formats. This battery of data, along with focus groups with parents / carers and with individuals with ASD will inform the final stage of the PhD; the development and implementation of a targeted intervention to support this group in their day-to-day social interactions.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: All applications must include a covering letter (up to 1000 words maximum) including why you are interested in this PhD, a summary of the relevant experience you can bring to this project and of your understanding of this subject area with relevant references (beyond the information already provided in the advert).

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019

Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences
Department: Psychology
Principal Supervisor: Dr Joanna Greer

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa) and full fees.


Halstead, E.J., Stanley, J.S., & Greer, J. (in press). Social and Environmental Stressors. In J. L. Matson, Handbook of Intellectual Disabilities: Integrating Theory, Research and Practice. Springer.

Related Subjects

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