• University of Glasgow Featured PhD Programmes
  • King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Featured PhD Programmes
  • FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
  • University of Birmingham Featured PhD Programmes
  • University of Manchester Featured PhD Programmes
  • University College London Featured PhD Programmes
  • University of Warwick Featured PhD Programmes
  • Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Liverpool Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Southampton Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
University of Surrey Featured PhD Programmes

Animal emotion, cognition and welfare: improving animal welfare, and developing new and better ways of assessing animal emotion and well-being

This project is no longer listed in the FindAPhD
database and may not be available.

Click here to search the FindAPhD database
for PhD studentship opportunities
  • Full or part time
    Prof M Mendl
    Dr E Paul
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Our lab studies the emotional (affective) and cognitive processes in a range of species (e.g. rodents, dogs, pigs, humans, chickens, insects), and how these two sets of processes inter-relate. We are interested in fundamental questions such as: what types of cognitive abilities do domesticated animals have; how do these abilities affect an animal’s vulnerability to welfare problems; how do short-term emotions translate into longer-term ‘mood’ states; how do mood states influence decision-making (e.g. ‘cognitive biases’) and what is the adaptive value of such influences; exactly what decision-making processes are affected?

We are also interested in using this basic knowledge to improve animal welfare, and to develop new and better ways of assessing animal emotion and well-being which can be implemented practically in labs / on-farms. Examples include the development of automated methods for measuring decision-making as a proxy indicator of affective state, or using an understanding of animal cognitive capacities to suggest changes to animal husbandry that improve welfare.

To achieve these aims, we collaborate with researchers in a range of disciplines (e.g. computer scientists; behavioural biologists; psychologists; vets; computational neuroscientists; statisticians; theoretical biologists; pharmacologists; insect biologists), and employ techniques including ethological methods of behaviour recording, operant training and testing methods, computer-based cognitive tasks, and (with collaborators) mathematical and statistical modeling and computer vision.

PhD or Master by research: We welcome applications at any time of year from self-funded students interested in animal cognition and emotion and their inter-relationships, and/or in applying this knowledge to help improve animal welfare. Please contact [email protected] if you would like more information, or see: http://www.bris.ac.uk/vetscience/people/michael-t-mendl/

When applying please select ’Veterinary Science’ PhD within the Faculty of Health Sciences.


Harding, E.J., Paul, E.S. & Mendl, M. (2004). Cognitive bias and affective state. Nature 427, 312. 10.1038/427312a
Mendl, M., Burman, O.H.P. & Paul, E.S. (2010). An integrative and functional framework for the study of animal emotion and mood. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 277, 2895-2904. 10.1098/rspb.2010.0303
Mendl, M., Held, S. & Byrne, R.W. (2010). Pig cognition. Current Biology 20, R796-R798. 10.1016/j.cub.2010.07.018
Mendl, M., Paul, E.S. & Chittka, L. (2011). Animal Behaviour: emotions in invertebrates? Current Biology 21, R463-R465. 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.028

Share this page:

Cookie Policy    X