PhD Studentships

Foundations of Political Ideology Project

Two new fully funded PhD studentships examining how culture and cognition shape human political belief and behaviour

Review of applications begins 15th December 2017

Applications are invited for two fully funded 3-year PhD studentships jointly hosted by the University of Auckland‘s School of Psychology and Business School, and supported by a Marsden Grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand. The studentships will begin in 2018 and will be supervised by Quentin Atkinson, Ananish Chaudhuri and Chris Sibley.

Project description

What determines our views on taxation and welfare, crime and healthcare, military spending and climate change? And why do opinions about these seemingly disparate aspects of our social lives coalesce the way they do?

The strategies people use to navigate their social worlds and negotiate social dilemmas vary enormously both within and between cultures. Understanding this variation is critical both for unravelling our evolutionary past and for tackling some of the major challenges of our future. This project will combine one of the world’s largest longitudinal panel surveys with methods and theory from experimental economics and evolutionary anthropology to investigate the cognitive and cultural foundations of human political ideology. The studentships include opportunities to work with the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey, the DECIDE lab for business decision making at the University of Auckland Business School, and to carry out fieldwork in small-scale societies in Vanuatu.

The successful applicants will have a background in psychology, economics or anthropology, with quantitative skills and an interest in research on human cooperation. Fieldwork experience, a background in evolutionary theory, familiarity with Pacific language/culture, and programming skills in, for example, R and Ztree/otree, are desirable but not essential. Willingness to work as part of a team is also important.

Host institution

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading university ranked 82 in the world in the 2017 QS survey. The School of Psychology is ranked 33rd in the world. The University of Auckland has a strong international focus and is the only New Zealand member of Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities – international consortia of research-led universities. Auckland is ranked third out of 221 world cities for quality of living in the 2017 Mercer Quality of Living Survey (see

Studentship Entitlement

Each studentship covers international student fees, a monthly stipend, and research and travel expenses associated with the projects. There are also opportunities for paid teaching assistantships within the School of Psychology.

To apply, please send a cover letter outlining your suitability for the position, together with a copy of your academic transcript from your most recent degree (can be unofficial) and a sample of your written work, to Dr Quentin Atkinson (Email:  Website: