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Sat on the Sofa Staring at Phones: Social Sensing and Nudging for Behavioural Change

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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  Dr L Turner, Dr Katarzyna Stawarz, Prof Roger Whitaker  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Digital ‘detoxing’ and management of screen time has become a rising societal trend as the smartphone has become more pervasive and embedded in nearly all aspects of daily life. However, this has largely concentrated on self-management and research has largely focused on the behaviours, causes, and consequences of usage from the perspective of individuals, irrespective of social environments. In reality, we live and interact with our devices in a complex social world. For example, standing alone on a train platform during a commute and attending a dinner table with friends can have different explicit or implicit social norms which may influence, or be influenced by, device usage.

The overarching goals of this project are to a) determine the empirical capability of using the smartphone to detect device usage amongst social situations and b) what role it can have in influencing usage behaviour implicitly or explicitly (e.g. nudges).  The project will build upon existing research surrounding the smartphone’s contextual sensing and information delivery capabilities (e.g., interruptibility prediction), but expand this to examine the effects of social context on device use by repurposing on-board sensors and implicit software mechanisms in a similar manner to COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervision team prior to submitting their application.

Aims and Methods: The initial direction for will involve undertaking a literature review. Alongside this, feasibility tests will be undertaken establish the technical capability of developing an experiment platform for sensing device usage and delivering nudges. This will be followed by dedicated empirical studies and subsequent data analysis using appropriate statical and machine learning techniques.

Deliverables: The outcomes of this research intends to help inform the design of intelligent interruption systems.

Keywords: Human-computer interaction, human-centred computing, contextual sensing, behaviour change, social computing, ubiquitous computing.

For more information about the project, please contact Liam Turner [Email Address Removed]

Academic criteria: A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject. Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Degree-level mathematics (or equivalent) is required for research in some project areas.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

How to apply:

Please contact the supervisors of the project prior to submitting your application to discuss and develop an individual research proposal that builds on the information provided in this advert. Once you have developed the proposal with support from the supervisors, please submit your application following the instructions provided below

Please submit your application before the application deadline 29th April 2022 via Computer Science and Informatics - Study - Cardiff University

In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information: 

  • Supporting statement 
  • CV 
  • In the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application enter the name of the project you are applying to and upload your Individual research proposal, as mentioned above in BOLD
  • In the funding field of your application, insert “I am applying for 2022 PhD Scholarship in Computer Science and Informatics”, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts
  • References x 2 
  • Proof of English language (if applicable)

Interview - If the application meets the entrance requirements, you will be invited to an interview

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

A School-Funded PhD Scholarship is available for entry 2022/23.
In the Funding field of your application, insert "I am applying for 2022 PhD Scholarship" and specify the project title and supervisor of this project in the fields provided.

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