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The Society for Mathematical Psychology promotes the advancement and communication of research in mathematical psychology and related disciplines. Mathematical psychology is broadly defined to include work of a theoretical character that uses mathematical methods, formal logic, or computer simulation. The official journals of the society are Journal of Mathematical Psychology and Computational Brain & Behavior.

PhD Position in Empathy & Emotion
Thursday, 05 May 2016 23:44

PhD Position "Modelling the effect of empathy and emotion on strategies in two-player games.

We will use mathematical modelling of experimental psychology data to explore the role of emotional states in the development of cooperation strategies in two-player social dilemma games. The aim is to understand better the role of empathy and emotional states in the evolution of cooperation in social groups.

A social dilemma arises when an individual’s selfish interest diverges from that of the social group of which they are a part and on which they rely. A social dilemma game, such as the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma, is a mathematical construct in economic game theory that aims to model social dilemmas. Social dilemma games are also used experimentally to explore how people really behave when presented with stylised dilemmas. We aim to shed light on why people are typically more cooperative when playing such games than would be expected on purely rational grounds by investigating how the communication of emotional states between players might influence their behaviour. The PhD student on this project will analyse data from social dilemma game experiments involving feedback of players’ emotional states and will help run follow-up experiments. The student will use the data and insight from the experiments to construct mathematical models of the evolution of player strategies in response to emotional feedback.

Lead supervision is in Mathematical Sciences with co-supervision in Psychology. We anticipate that the project will involve game theory, stochastic dynamical systems and statistical inference, along with some programming in e.g. Matlab, python, or c++, and so candidates will need a strong background in mathematics and should have a first class degree, or equivalent, in mathematics or a related discipline with a large quantitative component such as physics or statistics. An interest in psychology is essential and previous study of it will be an advantage. Applicants must have strong interest in and motivation for interdisciplinary research and the ability to communicate effectively across discipline boundaries.

To apply for this studentship, please apply for the MPhil/PhD in Mathematics using the University of Southampton on-line application system and quote the project title in your application. The on-line application form and guidance notes can be found here:

The studentship will cover tuition fees and stipend for UK/EU applicants. Partial funding is available for non-UK/EU students.

Please submit applications as soon as possible: we will review applications until the position is filled.


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