[visionlist] Funded PhD: Comics vs COVID

Tatler, Ben b.w.tatler at abdn.ac.uk
Thu Apr 7 09:54:46 -04 2022

We have a fully-funded PhD studentship available from October 2022 on the project "Comics vs. COVID: Informing and evaluating the design of public health information comics"

We are looking for a motivated student to join our interdisciplinary team to work on how information is communicated effectively in public health comics. This interdisciplinary project between Psychology and Humanities will involve not only studying how people look at and engage with health comics, but also working with comics artists and public health professionals to understand how different design choices influence the reader and how well the message is conveyed. The project is supervised jointly by Professor Ben Tatler (Psychology, University of Aberdeen) and Professor Christopher Murray (Comics Studies, University of Dundee).

For more details see: https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/comics-vs-covid-informing-and-evaluating-the-design-of-public-health-information-comics/?p142940

About the Project

Engaging people of all ages and abilities effectively with often complex public health information has never been more important than it is now. Comics can convey complex, nuanced information in ways that engage people of all ages and literacy levels, and have been used successfully to promote public health campaigns, improving engagement, knowledge and attitudes to health topics. Comics have been used to convey a wide range of public health messages during the COVID-19 pandemic. This interdisciplinary project will determine how readers engage with public health information comics and how this links to changes in the readers’ knowledge and attitudes. Specifically, we will consider how engagement with, understanding of and attitudes toward public health messages depend on (1) design choices when creating public health comics, (2) the target audience – including vulnerable groups with low health-literacy – and (3) the health topic covered. The project combines Tatler’s expertise on eye tracking and visual perception with Murray’s expertise on comics studies – including producing public health comics – and benefits from a successful history of interdisciplinary collaboration between the two supervisors. By recording eye movements, we will measure the moment-to-moment visual sampling of comics. Linking eye-movement data to questionnaire data collected before and after reading will allow us to identify objective markers of visual engagement that predict changes in knowledge and attitudes of the reader. The findings will reveal the mechanisms by which key information in comics is encoded into memory, providing theoretical advances in the Psychology of multi-modal perception and memory and informing data-driven theory development in Comics Studies. Moreover, the work will enable the development of protocols for objectively assessing the effectiveness of health comics in conveying their messages to the public and lead to recommendations for designing health comics that are optimised for the specific target audience and topic.

The student will be part of an interdisciplinary team supervised by Professor Ben Tatler from the School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen and Professor Christopher Murray from the School of Humanities at the University of Dundee.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

This PhD studentship will be available for students wishing to start a PhD in October 2022. The studentship is funded for 3 years for students with prior qualifications at Masters (or equivalent) level in Psychology, Humanities or a related discipline. For students without Masters-level experience, one-year fully funded training for a MRes in Psychological Research Methods at the School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, is available before the PhD studentship commences (1+3 year programme). The studentship is situated within the School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen. The School provides an exciting and vibrant research environment for doctoral research programmes.

Students should have a passion for comics, healthcare communication, visual perception or the link between art and psychology and hold prior qualifications/experience in Psychology, Humanities or a related discipline equal to an honours degree at a first or upper second class level or a masters from a UK academic research organisation, or an equivalent Degree qualifications from outside the UK.

Prior experience of working in comics studies, eye tracking or visual perception is desirable. However, the project can be undertaken by individuals with a background in Psychology, Comics Studies or Health. No specific research skills are a pre-requisite as we wish to ensure that students from either Social Science or Humanities backgrounds are able to apply.

The University of Aberdeen is a charity registered in Scotland, No SC013683.
Tha Oilthigh Obar Dheathain na charthannas clàraichte ann an Alba, Àir. SC013683.
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