New paper: “I know it’s just pouring it from the tap, but it’s not easy”: Motivational processes that underlie water drinking. In Science Direct. Appetite, 164, 105249.

Rodger, A., Wehbe, L. H., & Papies, E. K. (2021). “I know it’s just pouring it from the tap, but it’s not easy”: Motivational processes that underlie water drinking. Appetite, 164, 105249.

Water drinking behaviour is under-researched despite the prevalence and adverse health consequences of underhydration. We conducted a qualitative exploration into the motivational processes underlying water drinking, informed by a grounded cognition perspective on desire and motivated behaviour. We interviewed and analysed data from 60 participants stratified by age, gender, and education level using thematic analysis, to generate three key themes. “Water as situated habits,” suggests that participants form and maintain situated water drinking habits, so that within certain situations they regularly drink water. However, participants who situated their water intake only in one key situation (e.g., work routine), had low and inconsistent intake when they left this situation. Some situations happened so infrequently during the day (e.g., before bed) that participants’ daily water intake was low. Many participants reported drinking water in reaction to thirst cues, but these were easily suppressed or ignored, so that water drinking was inconsistent. Participants who saw drinking water as part of their self-identity had consistent and high water intake across a variety of situations. “Knowledge and attitudes,” suggests that few participants had knowledge or attitudes that promoted water intake (e.g., perceived water as positive or understood the importance of hydration). “Strategies underlying attempts to increase intake” suggests that many participants lacked insight into strategies to increase water intake, although they spontaneously discussed attempts to drink more. This lead to ineffective attempts at behaviour change. Participants’ mentions of dehydration and their responses to a urine colour chart suggested that many participants were possibly underhydrated. Our findings suggest that interventions and practitioners attempting to increase water intake need to increase knowledge about the importance of hydration, and encourage individuals to develop effective situated water drinking habits.


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.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Socially Intelligent Artificial Agents Studentships

The Centre for Doctoral Training offers PhD studentships for UK residents (fees and stipend), and a limited number of international studentships for exceptional candidates. To be eligible for an award, candidates must fulfil UKRI’s residency criteria and hold a 1st or 2:1 undergraduate degree in a subject relevant to the CDT including, but not limited to, computing science, psychology, linguistics, mathematics, sociology, engineering, physics, etc.

To apply for the studentship, please visit the SOCIAL AI website and read the full application instructions. Applicants are required to choose three prospective doctoral projects from a list available on the SOCIAL AI website and detail their suitability for these research projects in their cover letter. Applications are submitted via the University of Glasgow central admissions portal. The deadline for the September 2021 intake is 28th February 2021.

Please send any enquiries to or visit

New paper: Studying human eating behaviour in the laboratory: Theoretical considerations and practical suggestions

Best, M., Barsalou, L. W., & Papies, E. K. (in press). Studying human eating behaviour in the laboratory: Theoretical considerations and practical suggestions. Appetite.

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