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Does age affect people's ability to manage others' feelings?

   Management School

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  Prof Karen Niven, Dr Nichola Thomas  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project description

Influencing other people’s feelings (‘interpersonal emotion regulation’) is an everyday task for many organisational members, including leaders, team members, and service and care professionals. Research shows that people successful in managing others’ feelings are more popular and benefit the wellbeing and performance of those around them. 

In this PhD, the successful candidate will lead a programme of research exploring how workers’ age relates to their interpersonal emotion regulation ability. Theoretically, we know that as people grow older, they become more motivated towards social/emotional goals that ought to be conducive to their aptitude in this domain. Practically, research identifying potential strengths of older workers is much needed. Organisations are increasingly relying on the labour of older workers, but older workers are often treated poorly, due to negative stereotypes about their abilities. Research evidencing a distinctive strength of older workers may help to resolve this tension. 

The PhD will use quantitative methods, integrating complex analysis of video-coded and experience sampling data and facial expression analysis. The successful candidate will have a background in psychology, a strong aptitude for research design and statistics, and a strong interest in further developing their statistical skills. They will be supervised by Professor Karen Niven and Dr Nicola Thomas and will be situated within the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP), which is a thriving group of internationally recognised researchers with a strong PhD community. The project also offers an opportunity to collaborate with researchers at University Jena, Germany, including an extended research stay.

International collaborator(s)

This PhD project offers the successful candidate the opportunity to forge an international collaboration with researchers of ageing and emotion regulation at the Center for Lifespan Developmental Science at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Germany, including a research stay there. Professor Michaela Riediger, who runs the Center, is a world-leading expert in emotion regulation throughout the developmental lifespan.

The plan is for the successful candidate to have an extended stay in Jena throughout the second year of their studies. Professor Riediger and her colleagues have collected and agreed access to large volumes of high-quality data, including dyadic experience sampling and video recordings of naturalistic conversations including older and younger people. We anticipate this data forming two of the studies of the PhD thesis (with a further new study to be conducted in Sheffield). Day-to-day advice and additional resources for analysing these data (statistical software, server capacity) will be provided on-site in Jena, with workspace within the Center, and integration into the laboratory and PhD community at Jena. Formal supervision from Professor Niven and Dr Thomas in Sheffield would continue throughout the stay in Jena, ensuring continuity of support throughout the entire PhD.

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