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Understanding Everyday Creativity: using and developing phenomenological approaches to provide a more ecologically valid understanding of the insight moment (MSc/PhD)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD opportunity. Applications will also be considered for those wishing to pursue this topic as a full-time MSc. Please indicate clearly which degree level you are enquiring about in any correspondence.

Studies of insight moments (the ‘Aha!’ or ‘Eureka!’ feeling) typically use paradigms involving somewhat artificial problem-solving under laboratory conditions. As part of this project, you would work with your supervisors to understand everyday insight moments by devising innovative and more ecologically valid research methodologies. Research in the area might involve the measurement of physiological changes and interoceptive accuracy involved in the ‘Aha!’ experience. There is also potential to work with our Applied Computing department in the development of experimental apps to trigger and monitor insight moments.

The supervisory team is made up of:

Dr Gillian Hill whose principal research interest is in creative problem solving and specifically insight moments including ‘Uh-oh!’ moments of negative insight. Dr. Hill uses a variety of methods in her research, both interview and online questionnaires alongside face-to-face experimental work, where she explores how psychological and physiological (for example heart activity) factors impact on the experience of insight. She is a founder member of the UK Creativity Researchers group.

Dr Kathryn Friedlander ( whose research focuses upon expertise development and motivational drivers in cognitive and creative performance domains, divergent thinking and its relationship to fluid intelligence and creativity, insight problems and the ‘Aha!’ moment, and medical education and diagnostic biases. Dr Friedlander is currently co-editing a Frontiers Research Topic on Creativity ( to which she has also contributed.

You will join the CREATE research hub (Centre for Research into Expertise Acquisition, Training & Excellence) at the University of Buckingham. This is a friendly and thriving centre of research activity, which welcomes applications from potential MSc and PhD candidates across a wide range of related topic areas. To explore further, read our blog

In terms of entry qualifications, PhD applicants normally hold at least a 2:1 Honours degree in Psychology or an associated subject at Undergraduate level (including at least a 2:1 in their final year dissertation), and would typically be expected to have an MSc degree (or equivalent) although this may be waived in the case of an exceptional applicant. The candidate should be enthusiastic about the research area and have excellent written and oral communication skills along with experience of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Continuation on the PhD will be subject to suitable progress, assessed after one year.

Funding Notes

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. We are happy to work with prospective PhD students to apply for external funding. Applications from home, EU and overseas students are welcome. For suitable students, there may be teaching opportunities after progression is confirmed.

Informal enquiries may be made to quoting the reference ‘PHD-EVERYDAY-INSIGHT’.


Applicants for this opportunity should upload a single document including a covering letter and brief CV, outlining (a) how their previous experience supports their application to pursue a PhD by research in Psychology and (b) how their experience/interests suit them for this particular study. The names of two academic referees should be included, but would only be approached in the event that the applicant was shortlisted. Please refer to the code PHD-EVERYDAY-INSIGHT in your application.

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