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PhD Studentship: Understanding Blood Donor Behaviour to Advance our Understanding of Human Cooperation


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Thursday 02 February 2023
Reference:  SCI2115

About the Project 

Without the continual and reliable supply of safe blood many of the treatments and procedures offered by healthcare services would not be possible. However, blood services face a number of challenges, including encouraging more younger people and people from ethnic minority communities to donate blood. Volunteer blood donation also offers a unique opportunity to explore, develop and test models of human altruism and cooperation. Blood donors give voluntarily, at personal cost, to benefit the health of an unknown stranger that they will never meet. As such, the types of questions that could be addressed and explored in the PhD are: understanding i) why people are attracted to donate blood as opposed to other aspects of health or non-health-based philanthropy; ii) what factors sustain long-term high-cost cooperation; iii) what interventions could help encourage a wider diversity of donors. Within the PhD there is the opportunity for the candidate to take a number of different approaches, depending on the specific question to be addressed. These could include lab-based approaches to model blood donor behaviour (e.g., an economic game), online experiments and survey methods to explore blood donor motivations and preferences across different communities, and diary methods to track donor emotions and cognition (e.g., memory, and attention) while they donate blood as well as between donations. 

This studentship is funded by NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research) through their establishment of a Blood and Transplant Research Unit (BTRU) on Donor Health and Behaviour in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and working in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) the authority for the provision of blood and organs in England. The successful candidate will be based in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, affiliated with CeDEx (Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics) at the University of Nottingham and the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, and work closely with colleagues in Cambridge. 

The studentship will cover home University rates (Stipend £16,062 pa potentially rising to reflect the cost of living, fee £4,596 pa; 36 months) and would be suitable to a graduate in psychology, economics or other behavioural sciences.

All applications are to be made directly to the University, selecting PhD Psychology (36 months duration) as the course. Please apply at:

In the research proposal section, please include “Eamonn Ferguson advertised NIHR PhD position” in the title. You are required to upload the following documents to your application: 

·        A maximum of a 2-page C.V. 

·        Degree certificate and transcript (if already graduated) or a recent transcript.

·        800 words personal statement (maximum but excludes references) about why you are interested in doing this PhD, how the ideas outlined align with your interests and experiences and any specific ideas you have for research projects you have in this area.

·        Either two references (in a non-editable format, on headed paper and signed by the referee) or the details of two referees that we can contact. One of the references must be academic.

If you have any questions about the application process through MyNottingham, please contact for further advice.

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