The role of social media to promote acceptance of appearance diversity

The role of social media to promote acceptance of appearance diversity and reduce stigma in the general public


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol. The studentship will be funded by the Vocational Training and Charitable Trust Foundation and by UWE Bristol

Ref 2022-OCT-HAS004

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 October 2022.

The closing date for applications is 14 August 2022.

Studentship details

This is an exciting opportunity to conduct a funded full time PhD on the topic of the role of social media in understanding attitudes towards individuals with appearance altering conditions. The successful candidate will benefit from the opportunities presented by being part of a thriving internationally known university research centre, the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR), focused on psychosocial aspects of appearance, including those associated with appearance-altering conditions. CAR has a strong, vibrant postgraduate community, and links with relevant support organisations.

The studentship is part of a larger programme of research funded by the Vocational Training and Charitable Trust (VTCT) Foundation which aims to improve the lives of those living with an appearance altering condition. The supervisory team will include Associate Professor Amy Slater and Dr Ella Guest (Research Fellow at CAR) who both have experience and expertise in appearance research and the role of social media in understanding attitudes towards appearance diversity.

Viewing particular types of social media content that promote narrow beauty ideals has been linked with short term negative outcomes such as body dissatisfaction and negative mood. However, some social media content has been demonstrated to have positive immediate effects. A series of experimental studies will investigate whether sustained exposure to curated social media content that exposes participants to images of individuals with a variety of appearance altering conditions alongside educational content about specific conditions and the experiences of those with these conditions can reduce stigmatising attitudes and behaviours. The PhD will inform the development of resources (for example, short animations) aimed at reducing stigmatising attitudes and discriminatory behaviours from the general public towards those with appearance altering conditions.

The precise details of the PhD will be finalised by the successful student, who will be supported to identify a unique focus to the research in order to make a novel contribution to research in this field, using appropriate methodology.

In addition to providing much needed evidence-informed resources for the benefit of the visible difference community, this PhD will also offer an excellent training opportunity to develop the specific research skills and expertise of an early career researcher looking to establish a career in the field of applied appearance/health psychology and/or visible difference research.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Amy Slater at


The studentship is available from October 2022 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £16,602 per annum.

In addition, full-time Home tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


This would be a three-year, full-time commitment . This project is ideal for a self-motivated and enthusiastic student with a good honours degree (2:1 or equivalent) in psychology, and evidence of further study at Master's level or equivalent (for example, MSc health psychology, educational psychology).

Knowledge and experience of the psychology of appearance and body image and qualitative and quantitative research methods will be highly desirable.

The studentship is open to citizens in the UK.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2022-OCT-HAS004.

Submit an application

Supporting documentation

You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application so please have these available when you complete the application form.


You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Sunday 14 August 2022.

Further information

Interviews will take place on Tuesday 30 August. If you have not heard from us by 26 August 2022, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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