Fully Funded PhD Scholarship: Applied evolutionary face perception to the skincare industry

Swansea University - Department of Psychology

This scholarship is funded by Swansea University's College of Human and Health Sciences, and CyDen Limited.

Subject areas: Psychology; Evolutionary Psychology; Evolutionary Biology; Data Science

Start date: October 2018

An exciting opportunity for a fully funded PhD study has opened within the FaReS group (Face Research Swansea) at Swansea University psychology. Supervised by Dr Alex Jones and Dr Jeremy Tree, the project will examine how principles of evolutionary face perception might work alongside industry decisions regarding skincare products. 

The last 30 years have seen a range of studies demonstrate the link between our facial appearance and certain attributes. A very prominent social judgment made readily from faces is of health, or how healthy a person appears. Recent studies have shown that observers rely not only on shape information in faces to infer a person’s health (Jones, 2018), but also on aspects of skin colour (Jones et al., 2016). Age is also inferred easily from faces, and cues such as facial contrast (Porcheron et al., 2013) are subtle but powerful aspects of appearance that guide our judgments. 

Why study these relationships? One reason is that observers seem to use these aspects of our faces to make real world decisions about us, in particular about how trustworthy or friendly we might be (Tsankova & Kappas, 2016). There are also links between our appearance and our self-esteem. Indeed, the facial attributes observers use to make negative judgments about us are the same areas that cause significant appearance dissatisfaction (Jones et al., 2016; Roh & Chung, 2009). 

This project aims to further explore these findings in an applied context. The successful candidate will carry out research with an industry partner (CyDen), lending psychological expertise to research questions the company have as well as creating original research on the topics of health and age perception. Example projects may include finding facial skin areas that cause the greatest dissatisfaction and how this varies over the lifespan, how self and other perceptions of appearance differ, what people claim is an ideal appearance, as well as generating statistical models of aging and health factors in faces that can predict judgments of novel faces. 

The successful candidate will have a good knowledge of evolutionary and cognitive approaches to face perception, and a strong interest in the role appearance plays in everyday psychology. In addition, the candidate will be highly self-motivated and possess excellent communication skills, as regular presentations to academic and industry partners will be expected. The successful candidate will also be expected to contribute up to 6 hours of teaching per week in various roles around the psychology department, emphasising the importance of being comfortable in communicating topics to a range of audiences.


Academic requirements:

Candidates should have a 2.1 or above undergraduate degree and an MSc (Merit or equivalent) in related area (psychology, biosciences, etc.).

Strong statistical and programming skills are highly desired, alongside good experimental design ability. Any experience of working with images or shape data is advantageous.

Residency criteria:

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Please visit our website for more information on eligibility.

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