How do older adults navigate social interactions in the real world?

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

By 2066, there will be more people over the age of 65 than children. Given our rapidly ageing population, it is more important than ever to understand the secrets of well-being in old age. It is well-established that social functioning is a critical predictor of wellbeing at all stages of the lifespan, but this is particularly the case in older age.

This research program aims to investigate how important social cognitive capacities – that lay the foundation for effective social functioning – are impacted by normal adult ageing. Specifically, this project aims to develop novel ecologically valid experiments that index older adults' real world social cognitive capacities, with the goal of uncovering the specific challenges older adults face when engaging with others in day-to-day life. The candidate will use cutting edge experimental techniques, such as wearable eye-trackers, to investigate for the first time, how ageing alters our capacity to visually navigate and understand our social world.

The ideal candidate will be prepared to develop a strong understanding of the social cognitive ageing literature, assist with experiment design, learn new experimental techniques (e.g., eye-tracking), and collect data from younger and older adult participants across several studies.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Sarah Grainger

School of Psychology


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of the social cognition and ageing literature would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of psychology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of statistics and eye-tracking methodology is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2024. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process