Communicating complex risks through social media: The role of social influence on risk attenuation
PhDs and postgraduate research
Self-funded PhD students only
BUSM4540219 (UK and EU students)
BUSM4570219 (International students)
Business and Management
Applications accepted all year round
The objectives of the project are:
- to understand approaches to risk communication and influences on risk perception when mediated through social media
- to understand the role of social influence in determining perceptions of risk
- to identify recommendations for practical communication approaches that leverage the targeting and segmentation techniques available on digital channels to enable the effective communication of complex risks
This PhD project aims to explore techniques that enable the effective communication of complex risks to the public in contexts that improve health and reduce risks of harm.
Working within our Marketing & Society research grouping this project builds on a research stream that seeks to broaden the impact of marketing research and consider the role of marketing activities amongst non-commercial stakeholders.
This project will address a research theme relating to the application of marketing techniques to improve health and wellbeing. The contextual focus of this project will be supported by working with a high-profile public sector organisation developing practical solutions to real-world problems.
Research has long-established that public perceptions of risk differ from expert evaluations. Understanding how individuals perceived risk is therefore key to effectively communicating risk in a way that will encourage appropriate behavioural responses.
This project looks at the way in which risks, particularly complex risks, related to health and safety are perceived and understood by individuals when communicated through digital channels.
The growing use of digital channels (particularly social media) as a communication medium also challenges existing approaches to risk communication. While social media provides the opportunity for more targeted communications and can potentially increase reach into vulnerable or hard-to-reach groups, the role of social influence can make communicating risks more difficult.
- Anderson, A. A., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D.A., Xenos, M.A., and Ladwig, P. (2014), The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 19: 373-387.
- McAllister, C.P., Parker Ellen, B., and Ferris, G.R. (2018), Social Influence Opportunity Recognition, Evaluation, and Capitalization: Increased Theoretical Specification Through Political Skill’s Dimensional Dynamics. Journal of Management, 44(5): 1926-1952.
- Risselada, H., Verhoef, P.C., and Bijmolt, T.H.A. (2014), Dynamic Effects of Social Influence and Direct Marketing on the Adoption of High-Technology Products. Journal of Marketing, 78(2): 52-68.
- Sheeran, P., Harris, P.R., and Epton, T. (2014), Does Heightening Risk Appraisals Change People's Intentions and Behavior? A Meta-Analysis of Experimental Studies. Psychological Bulletin, 140(2): 511-543.
Fees and funding
Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).
2020/2021 fees (applicable for October 2020 and February 2021 start)
Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a*
International full-time students: £15,100 p/a*
International part-time students: £7,550 p/a*
*All fees are subject to annual increase
- You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject
- In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0
- You should have a background in the social sciences, preferably in marketing or psychology/consumer psychology
- You should also have some knowledge of quantitative methods and be willing to develop your skills in this area as part of this project
If you have project specific enquiries, please contact Dr Daniel Nunan (email@example.com) or Dr Giampaolo Viglia (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.
When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Business and Management’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.
Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.
Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.
To be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity quote project code BUSM4540219 (UK and EU students) or BUSM4570219 (International students) when applying.