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Understanding associations between hoarding and psychosis (RDF19/HLS/PSY/SMAILES)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Smailes
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

There is evidence of an association between hoarding (a tendency to acquire an excessive number of objects, which are stored in a disorganised, problematic manner) and psychosis (experiencing symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder). However, the strength and the nature of the association between hoarding and psychosis is unclear. For example, we do not know whether psychotic experiences lead to the development of hoarding, whether hoarding leads to the development of psychotic experiences, or whether both are caused by a single underlying process, such as atypical social cognition. The aim of this PhD project is to further investigate the links between hoarding and psychosis in a series of studies, which will have important clinical implications.

Phase One of the PhD will involve analysing large datasets from general population studies of the prevalence of mental health problems, to investigate whether hoarding is associated with specific symptoms of psychosis.

The aim of Phase Two of the PhD will be to conduct experimental research investigating why the associations between hoarding and specific psychotic experiences identified in Phase One exist.

The aim of Phase Three of the PhD will be to investigate how the presence of psychotic symptoms may influence the effectiveness of current hoarding interventions.

Throughout the PhD, there will be an emphasis on engaging in open science practices, so that rigorous, reproducible research is generated.

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 David Smailes

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.


Smailes, D., Alderson-Day, B., Fernyhough, C., McCarthy-Jones, S., & Dodgson, G. (2015). Tailoring cognitive behavioral therapy to subtypes of voice-hearing. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1933.

McCarthy-Jones, S., Smailes, D., Corvin, A., Gill, M., Morris, D. W., Dinan, T. G., ... & Dudley, R. (2017). Occurrence and co-occurrence of hallucinations by modality in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Psychiatry Research, 252, 154-160.

Neave, N., Jackson, R., Saxton, T., & Hönekopp, J. (2015). The influence of anthropomorphic tendencies on human hoarding behaviours. Personality and Individual Differences, 72, 214-219.

Neave, N., Caiazza, R., Hamilton, C., McInnes, L., Saxton, T., Deary, V., & Wood, M. (2017). The economic costs of hoarding behaviours in local authority/housing association tenants and private home owners in the north-east of England. Public Health, 148, 137-139.

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