The Melbourne Physical Appearance Research Team (PART) is a highly active research group located in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Led by Drs Scott Griffiths and Isabel Krug, PART unites a team of academics, postdocs, research assistants and postgraduate and undergraduate students with a shared interest in the phenomena of human physical appearance. The ethos of PART is that rigorous and world-class research will deepen our understanding of the myriad ways that physical appearance impacts our everyday lives.
Members of PART are currently conducting research on eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours, muscle dysmorphia and anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence, height and genital dissatisfaction and their potential modification, sexualization and assertiveness, body ideals and adherence to masculine and feminine gender roles, body idealising social media content including thinspiration and fitspiration, measure and scale development for physical appearance constructs, weight stigma and weight discrimination, and the stigmatisation of psychological disorders for which physical appearance is central.
Dr Scott Griffiths Team Leader, University of Melbourne
Dr Isabel Krug Team Leader, University of Melbourne
Dr Khandis Blake Team Leader, University of Melbourne
Emma Austen Research assistant, University of Melbourne
Sarah Bonell PhD student, University of Melbourne
Haley E. Brown University of Melbourne
Kimberly Buck University of Melbourne
Marie Camin Masters student, University of Melbourne
Mitchell L. Cunningham PhD student, University of Sydney
Sarah Giles PhD student, University of Melbourne
Megan Gittus University of Melbourne
Sarah Lipson Visiting researcher, Harvard University
Beth O'Gorman PhD student, University of Queensland
Poorna Selvaraja Masters student, University of Melbourne
Ashleigh Stefanovski Honours student, University of Melbourne
Stephanie Stewart PhD student, University of Melbourne
Daniel Talbot PhD student, Western Sydney University
Weixi Tan Honours student, University of Melbourne
Madeleine Toohey Masters student, University of Melbourne
Eugenia Yee Masters student, University of Melbourne
Dr Scott Griffiths
Scott Griffiths is an NHMRC Early Career Fellow in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. Scott researches body image and eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia and anabolic steroids, body-idealising social media content (e.g., thinspiration and fitspiration), and the stigmatisation of behaviours and psychological disorders for which physical appearance is a key element.
Dr Isabel Krug
Isabel Krug is Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Melbourne with a main research focus on eating disorders, body image and eating pathology. Isabel's research focuses on a range of genetic, environmental, and psychological risk factors for eating pathology. Isabel is also interested in the effectiveness of new treatment modalities for individuals with eating pathology, including mindfulness, oxytocin, TMS, virtual reality and telemedicine. More recently Isabel and her team are using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to assess risk factors for eating pathology, including the effects of social media, fitbits and fasting during Ramadan on body image and eating behaviours.
Emma Austen's research interests focus on the relationship between gender and the perpetuation of stigma relating to both physical appearance and mental health. A specific focus considers how this stigma is facilitated by individuals' conformity to specific gender norms, and how such norms might be optimally targeted by destigmatisation initiatives.
Sarah Bonell is investigating the role that modern society plays in defining beauty standards. Specifically, she hopes to examine genital beauty norms and how they have fluctuated as a result of changes within the pornographic industry.
Haley E. Brown
Haley Brown graduated from Bard College in New York in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Her honours thesis was titled "The Effect of Facebook on Body Dissatisfaction: Ethnicity as a Potential Moderator." Her research interests include disordered eating and body image concerns, social media, appearance comparison behaviour, thinspiration and fitspiration, self-tracking, cross-cultural studies, and diverse backgrounds. Haley is currently working on two potential publications with Dr Isabel Krug, through PART at the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
Kimberly Buck graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Psychology at the University of Melbourne in 2015 and currently works across a range of research programs, including Dr Isabel Krug's projects examining eating disorders and disordered eating. Kimberly also manages a national study assessing the prevalence of advance care p planning documentation in Australian health and residential aged care services.
Marie Camin is a provisional psychologist and Master of Clinical Psychology candidate at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include eating disorders, particularly improving clinical outcomes for Anorexia Nervosa. She is also interested in the intersection between clinical and social psychology in the inpatient treatment of eating disorders.
Mitchell L. Cunningham
Mitchell L. Cunningham is a PhD Candidate and member of the Academic Staff at the University of Sydney. He also holds positions as a Senior Professional Scientist with ARRB Group and as a research assistant at the University of NSW. His research interests include the following: muscle dysmorphia, muscularity-oriented disordered eating, and body dysmorphic disorder; emotion dysregulation and cognitive biases relating to physical appearance; anabolic steroids and image-enhancing drugs; social media, thinspiration, and fitspiration; stigmatisation relating to physical appearance; and measure and scale development relating to physical appearance.
Sarah Giles is currently completing her Masters of Clinical Psychology/ PhD at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include neurocognitive functioning in eating disorders, obesity, and the overlap between autism spectrum disorder and eating disorders. Sarah's PhD is investigating the presence of autism spectrum disorder in eating disorders, and whether these traits may help to explain why some people experiencing an eating disorder do not respond to conventional treatment.
Megan Gittus's research interests include the phenomena of fitspiration and thinspiration in social media and the effect it has on young women's eating attitudes and behaviours. She also is interested in understanding appearance comparisons and their effect on self-evaluation. Her current research focus is on fitness-trackers and how sharing fitness data among peers may lead to potentially harmful exercise comparisons. Specifically, her research examines the effect of exercise comparisons made in the Fitbit leaderboard on exercise behaviour, eating pathology, and body dissatisfaction in young women.
Sarah Lipson is an undergraduate student at Harvard University pursuing a degree in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Psychology as she completes her pre-medical requirements. She researches female muscularity and its sociocultural manifestations, particularly the "athleisure" phenomenon. Her research interests also include disordered eating behaviours in athlete populations and the relationship between eating disorders and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI).
Beth O'Gorman has a background in clinical psychology and is currently completing her Masters in Clinical Psychology at The University of Queensland. Her research investigates male body image with a particular focus on the role of masculinity. Beth's research interests include the range of negative consequences associated with body dissatisfaction in males, such as emotional distress, eating disorders, and steroid use. Her interests also encompass help-seeking knowledge and behaviour and stigmatising attitudes and beliefs relating to male body image.
Poorna Selvaraja is a Masters of Clinical Psychology candidate at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include disordered eating behaviours, social media usage, fitspiration, thinspiration, body image, and body dissatisfaction.
Ashleigh Stefanovski is an Honours student at the University of Melbourne. She is interested in factors that may perpetuate body image disorders and disordered eating. Her research for her honours thesis will focus on idealised depictions of bodies on social media, namely Thinspiration and Fitspiration. In particular, she is interested as to how body dissatisfaction and negative affect may precede or succeed the viewing of Thinspiration and Fitspiration.
Stephanie Stewart is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne. Her research is centred around consumer leadership, a term that denotes leadership enacted by people who have lived experience of mental distress in the design, delivery and evaluation of mental health services, policy, and research. Stephanie intends to collaborate with consumer leaders to develop the direction of the research program, develop the research design, and implement the application of research findings in practice. Thus, her research interests lie in both investigating consumer leadership as a research topic and in developing consumer leadership as an essential element of the research process.
Daniel Talbot is a PhD/Master of Clinical Psychology candidate at Western Sydney University. He researches body image and eating disorders in males, including muscle dysmorphia, binge eating disorder, and obesity. Specifically, he is interested in cognitive and perceptual biases that are implicated in the cause and perpetuation of body image and eating disorders and developing more sensitive tools to measure these disorders in males.
Weixi Tan is a psychology honours student at the University of Melbourne. Her personal research interest is centred around disordered eating, eating disorders, and body dissatisfaction. Weixi's current thesis focuses on the influence of appearance-related comments on body dissatisfaction and disordered eating through an Ecological Momentary Assessment approach. The interaction effects of social contexts and individual dispositions on impacting body dissatisfaction and disordered eating are also examined.
Madeleine Toohey's general research interests focus on psychological disorders implicated in child and adolescent demographics, with a specific emphasis on eating disorders and generating a greater understanding of the risk and maintaining mechanisms underlying these severe diagnoses. Her current research project centres around the relationship between autistic traits, particularly those reflecting the cognitive rigid profile of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and disordered eating at the non-clinical level.
Eugenia Yee is pursuing her Masters in Clinical Psychology at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include eating disorders, disordered eating and exercise patterns, and body image. She is also curious to understand how social media content that depicts an "ideal body" affects individuals' perception of their physical appearance. Using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), her current research investigates the influence of Fitspiration and Thinspiration images on body dissatisfaction and mood among males.
Griffiths, Scott & Jacka, Brendan & Degenhardt, Louisa & Murray, Stuart & Larance, Briony. (2018). Physical appearance concerns are uniquely associated with the severity of steroid dependence and depression in anabolic–androgenic steroid users. Drug and Alcohol Review. 37. 10.1111/dar.12688.
Griffiths, Scott & Murray, Stuart & Krug, Isabel & McLean, Siân. (2018). The Contribution of Social Media to Body Dissatisfaction, Eating Disorder Symptoms, and Anabolic Steroid Use Among Sexual Minority Men. CyberPsychology & Behavior. 21. 10.1089/cyber.2017.0375.
Griffiths, Scott & Murray, Stuart & Mitchison, Deborah & Castle, David & M. Mond, Jonathan. (2018). Relative Strength of the Associations of Body Fat, Muscularity, Height, and Penis Size Dissatisfaction With Psychological Quality of Life Impairment Among Sexual Minority Men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity. 10.1037/men0000149.
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