Making a difference

Funded PhD studies

Applications are invited for funded PhD studies at the University of Surrey here. 

The Social Emotions and Equality in Relations (SEER) Research Group in the School of Psychology particularly invites theoretically grounded proposals that address and broaden its work. All PhD students at the University of Surrey have a primary and a secondary PhD supervisor. Members of SEER include Smadar Cohen-Chen, Fabio Fasoli, Peter Hegarty, Erica Hepper, Peter Hilpert, Aife Hopkins-Doyle (joining SEER in April 2020), Patrice Rusconi, Sophie Russell, and Harriet Tenenbaum. We particularly invite proposal that would draw on the expertise of two SEER members of would combine the expertise of one SEER member with another member of Surrey’s faculty within or beyond the School of Psychology. For questions about supervision, please contact the relevant academics with whom you wish to work.

The SEER group meets weekly to discuss work in progress, we host visits from scholars including Erasmus students, and participate in a joint PhD training program with the University of Milano-Bicocca. We deliver an MSc degree program in Social Psychology. The School of Psychology has recently invested in upgraded research labs including biopac, eyetracking, and mobile EEG. As part of that larger investment, SEER has benefited from the addition in 2019 on a social interaction laboratory with Mangold hardware and INTERACT software for multi-channel social observation.  The University of Surrey will host the 2020 European Association for Social Psychology Summer School.  Students who completed their doctoral studies in SEER to postdoctoral, teaching and lecturing posts at University of Roehampton (Orla Parslow-Breen, 2017), University of Surrey, Department of Sociology (Katherine Hubbard, 2017), City University and Cardiff University (Sapphira Thorne, 2017), University of Sheffield (Shannon Hirst, 2018), University of Northampton (Sebastian Bartos, 2018), University of Greenwich (Anna Cook, Theofilos Gkinopoulis, both 2019) and the University of Sussex (Daniel Noon, 2019). Sometimes, we take a break and play board games, here in Guildford.

For more general questions about SEER, please contact Peter Hegarty at

Seminar Series

Children and Inequality
A BPS supported Seminar Series conducted by Drs. Julie Dickinson, Michaela Gummerum, and Harriet Tenenbaum
A plethora of reports by governmental agencies, think tanks, international organizations, and newspapers chart the development and stubborn persistence of income inequality in the UK. Epidemiological research has shown that societies with greater income inequality score lower than more equal societies in common public health indicators (e.g., morbidity, infant mortality; Wilkinson & Pickett, 2006), but also well-being and mental health (Pickett & Wilkinson, 2015). Thus, income inequality has adverse effects for individuals and societies at large. The purpose of this seminar series is to understand how children reason about inequalities at societal and interpersonal levels and how inequality affects them at a personal level. We have funding to offset some of the travel costs for three people to join us.
If you would like to be part of this seminar series, please email Harriet Tenenbaum for inquiries or with a 200 word explanation of why you would like to join and a CV by 1 NOV 2019


The Puzzle of Feminist Opposition to Transgender People’s Rights. This new collaboration between Peter Hegarty and Annalisa Casini and Emma Sarter  at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium will examine gender differences in opinions about transgender people’s rights from a social identity framework. The project is funded by a Seedcorn grant from the European Association of Social Psychology.

Heroes against Homophobia. British Academy (2017).  This project, conducted by Peter HegartySophie Russell and Sebastian Bartos examined whether positive emotions can block the prejudice that is prompted by the emotion of disgust.  You can read more about it on the British Academy blog 

Enabling Public Engagement with Intersex/DSD through Psychology and Mobile Technology. British Psychological Society (2017). This project conducted with Lois Donnelly aimed to inform efforts to increase public understandings of intersex/dsd, using a survey that was created with the input and involvement of diverse intersex stakeholders.

Intersex UK: A History for the Age of Consensus. Wellcome Trust (2015-2020) This project aims to map the history of intersex in the UK for the first time.  The primary research is being conducted by Dr. David Griffiths in the Department of Sociology, who is supervised by Peter Hegarty in SEER.  Two major articles form this project are available on open access:
Griffiths, D.A. (2018). Diagnosing sex: Intersex surgery and ‘sex change’ in Britain 1930-1955. Sexualities, 21,
Griffiths, D.A. (2018). Shifting syndromes; Sex chromosome variations and intersex classifications. Social Studies of Science, 48,

Peter Hegarty was a funded participant in COST Action IS 1205: Social Psychological Dynamics of Historical Representations in the Enlarged European Union (2012-2016). As a member of the working group on The Role of Social Cognitive Processes in Shaping Lay Representations of History, he and Olivier Klein  co-edited Vol 10, Issue 3 of Memory Studies on Historical Cognition: Recent Advances

Beyond ‘Straight Talking’: The Consequences of Vocal Cues to Sexual Identity for Modern Prejudice (H2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships - 2016-2108). This project conducted by Dr Fabio Fasoli under the supervision of Prof Peter Hegarty aimed to examine individuals’ beliefs about and experiences of vocal cues of sexual orientation on the one hand, and the social consequences of sounding gay/lesbian on the other hand.
EU portal,


Gay straight communication

Fabio Fasoli published the paper; Gay straight communication

Sexual orientation is a private matter that individuals can decide to disclose or conceal. Nevertheless, when interacting with others, people look for cues of sexual orientation. Hence, the person’s face, voice, or non-verbal behavior is taken as a cue revealing sexual orientation. As research on “gaydar” has shown, this detecting ability can sometimes be accurate or stereotype-based. Sometimes gay, lesbian, and bisexual people themselves intentionally communicate their sexual identity explicitly or through more subtle cues. Intentional or not, several cues are taken as communicating sexual orientation with the consequences of shaping interpersonal interactions.

Shades of sexualization: when sexualization becomes sexual objectification

Fabio Fasoli published the paper: Shades of sexualization: when sexualization becomes sexual objectification

Sexualization in mass media is a widespread phenomenon. Although sexualization and sexual objectification are often used as synonymous, they are two different concepts. Across two studies, we investigated how sexualization affects perceptions of women and men  as sexual objects.

Intersex after the Recognition of Human Rights conference

In September 2016, Peter Hegarty co-organized the conference Intersex after the recognition of human rights with David Griffiths (School of Sociology) and Kamilla Hawthorne, MBE (Associate Dean of Medicine) which was held at the University of Surrey.  The meeting was the third annual meeting of the EuroPsi - The European Network for Psychosocial Studies in Intersex/Diverse Sex Development. It was partially funded by grants from the Institute of Advanced Study and the Wellcome Trust.

Hybrid Human-Machine Computing (HHMC): From human computation to social computing and beyond conference

In September 2017, Patrice Rusconi was one of the co-organizers of the conference “From Human Computation to Social Computing and Beyond ”, organised by Shujun Li (Department of Computer Science and Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, University of Surrey) which was held at the University of Surrey. The workshop was funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Surrey and partly by related EPSRC and EU research projects of the co-organisers.

View workshop details.

Stigma as framed on YouTube: Effects of personal experiences videos on students’ beliefs about medicalizing intersex

Peter Hegarty and Annette Smith co-authored a paper with Tadhg Bogan‐Carey (University of Limerick) "Stigma as framed on YouTube: Effects of personal experiences videos on students’ beliefs about medicalizing intersex"

Proponents and opponents of Intersex-medicalization use personal narrative videos on YouTube to frame intersex as a stigma best understood through a medical or social identity frame. Ninety‐nine psychology students watched either a medical or social identity framed video, or participated in a comparison group (no video). The social identity video increased participants’ sense that medicine was more harmful and less beneficial, and the medical video decreased participants’ sense that medicine was harmful. Neither video impacted stigmatizing beliefs about intersex people as a group. Rather, effects of the videos on beliefs about harms of medicalization were moderated by two stigma measures; social distance and gender binary beliefs. Medical intervention on intersex has been justified, in part, on grounds that stigma is inevitable. While intersex stigma has rarely been empirically examined, this study shows that people with less propensity to stigmatize see less benefit from medicalizing intersex traits and are more open to learning few framings from personal experience videos.

Public understanding of intersex in the UK and the USA

Peter Hegarty presented a paper “Public understanding of intersex in the UK and the USA” at the Intersex‐Kontroversen Symposium (November 2017) at the Sexology Clinic, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf , where he discussed this experiment done with placement students from University of Surrey (and other work).


Humour as a way to counteract the effects of sexual objectification 
BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant

We are constantly seen a variety of pictures on social media. Many of those portray women in a sexualised and unrealistic way. This often make women dissatisfied with their bodies. What can we do? In the video we discuss this with Prof. Jane Ogden and Stephen Bell.
Have a look to get to know more about our project!


Peter Hegarty and colleagues from Italy and Portugal will be hosting a 2-day RKTS workshop "Building An LGBT European Social Psychology" on June 21 -22, 2019, at the ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute, Portugal.

Application deadline: April 1, 2019.

This workshop intends to step toward more sustained social psychological research focused on LGBT lives in Europe and the reduction of societal prejudice. The workshop will:

  • Provide an updated review of LGBT social psychology research 
  • Discuss how interdisciplinarity informs LGBT research in social psychology 
  • Describe how to transfer knowledge from the laboratory to the field to create effective interventions 
  • Promote scientific exchange between senior scientists, junior researchers, and LGBT advocacy organisations 
  • Develop a network to sustain impactful science in Europe. 

The workshop is also open to junior and postgraduate students and researchers, social psychologists and OPP members (Ordem dos Psicólogos Portugueses), and LGBT associations (e.g., ILGA-Portugal). At least 50% (and likely more) of the workshop participants will be EASP members. The workshop is primarily aimed at researchers with fewer financial resources. Preference will be given to researchers residing in countries that have a less favourable legal and policy context for LGBTI people.

See the workshop event page for further details European.

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University of Surrey