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MscR: Why we respond the way we do

   School of Psychological Science

About the Project

The formal studying of memory has gone strong since the late 1800s with Ebbinghaus's well-controlled experiments. As such, much is known about what makes memory stronger (e.g., repeated exposure, emotionally-laden content, long duration, repeated retrievals, etc.). Surprisingly, we know much less about why we respond the way we do when faced with a memory cue.

As we age, our memory ability decreases, and our responding changes too. Older adults become more conservative, so they're less likely to claim they experienced an event than younger adults (Holdstock et al., 2021). Why? Another example is when people describe an event, they are later more conservative than when they did not describe the event (Wilson, Seale-Carlisle, & Mickes, 2017). More examples are in some publications on the lab website

Why do we respond the way we do? This MscR project would investigate this very question. The project is not set in stone but will involve a series of behavioural experiments and modelling, and be grounded in theory. The project's flexibility allows the MscR student to work with the supervisor on the research questions, hypotheses, preregistration, etc.

While the work will be theoretically grounded, the applicability is potentially widespread, including in

-police practices




-clinical and counselling

Applicants should have at least some experience with the following

-open science practices (i.e., preregistrations, registered reports)

-signal detection theory

-recognition memory literature

-designing in-person and online experiments to test hypotheses

-data analyses


-obtaining ethical approval

-writing scientific papers

and the MscR will strengthen these areas.

MSc by Research (MScR) is a 1-year research degree that provides an intensive lab-based training and a preparation for PhD study. You will carry out your studies as part of your research group – like a PhD student does. Towards the end of the year, you write up a thesis on your research and are examined on this. This degree suits students wanting to gain maximum research experience in preparation for PhD applications.   

We are keen to recruit a diverse range of students and to ensure our research is open to all. We particularly welcome applications from groups traditionally under-represented in life sciences research. Please check the University webpages for the current tuition fee information. Most MScR projects also require a bench fee. This varies depending on the research and your project supervisor can tell you the bench fee for the project. 

Please contact Prof. Mickes () directly for information about the project.

How to apply: 

Use the following link to apply: Start your application | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol 

You should apply to the Faculty of Life Sciences, School of Psychological Sciences selecting the programme Psychology MSc by Research. 

Please ensure you upload all supporting documents as per the admissions statement (which applies to both PhD and MScR programmes): PhD Psychology | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol 

Clearly indicate the supervisor's name and project title in the relevant section of the application form. 

The system will not allow you to submit your application without uploading a document to the research statement section.  Where this is an optional requirement, please upload a blank Word document which is headed “No research statement required”. 

Applications are accepted all year round. However, the preferred entry points for study are September / January / April / July. 

Funding Notes

This project is for students who can fund the project themselves; however, you are eligible to apply for a University of Bristol Think Big Postgraduate Award (View Website) If you are a UK student from a Black background then you are eligible to apply for an Opportunity Bristol Scholarship (View Website)

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