SGSSS studentship applications open


Developing and assessing a digital health app that implements the Situated Assessment Method to decrease distress and increase eustress

In this project, our team will build and evaluate a health app to help individuals learn about and regulate life stress. In previous work, we developed a new instrument for measuring an individual’s stress, the Situated Assessment Method (SAM2). Unlike other instruments that establish an overall measure of an individual’s stress level, SAM2 provides rich information about associated stress mechanisms. SAM2 is also novel in assessing both negative stress (distress) and positive stress (eustress), and typically explains 70-80% of the variance in distress and eustress, while establishing insight into associated stress mechanisms. Interestingly and significantly, performing the SAM2 assessment procedure across multiple timepoints induces learning about distress and eustress. Individuals increasingly understand how the distress and eustress they experience is related to specific stress mechanisms.

In a series of longitudinal studies, this project will build and assess a health app that implements the SAM2 procedure. Of particular interest is building an effective digital tool that promotes learning about distress and eustress to decrease distress and increase eustress (shifting the affect associated with stress from negative to positive). Besides collecting data that tracks distress and eustress longitudinally, the app will continually assess user learning and app engagement.

The PhD student will become part of a large lab group at the University of Glasgow that focuses on health cognition and behaviour. The two Glasgow supervisors (Lawrence Barsalou, Esther Papies) will provide training in health cognition, behaviour change, and research methods. The industry partner (Aleksandar Matic, Koa Health) will serve as an equal third supervisor, providing training in app development, implementation, and assessment. The PhD project will play a foundational role for developing future collaborative projects that aim to develop increasingly powerful apps for decreasing distress and increasing eustress.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

Essential application criteria (required):

  • Completed undergraduate degree in Psychology
  • Basic training in psychological methods and statistics
  • Significant previous programming experience in at least one language (e.g., R, Python)

 Desirable application criteria (optional):

  • Advanced training in psychological methods and statistics
  • Background in health psychology, a health-related occupation, or other health-related experience
  • Experience with app development (such as Android, iOS, and/or web programming)

Please note that all applicants must also meet the ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here.

For full details and to apply for this studentship, please visit the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) website here.

First published: 3 March 2021