Exploring the role of social norms in contributing to sustainable reduced meat food choices, offline and on social media

Lead Supervisor: Dr Nicola Buckland, Psychology
Co-supervisor: Prof Helen Kennedy, Sociological Studies

Deadline: Monday 26th March 2018

Project Description
This interdisciplinary project will investigate the impact of social norms (offline and in social media contexts) on meat intake. Meat is central to Western society and is considered a socially acceptable food choice, or ‘norm’. Yet, meat production is resource-intensive and a major contributor to carbon emissions. Meat-rich diets are also linked with obesity and non-communicable diseases. As such, strategies to reduce meat intake need to be identified.

Previous research has shown that messages about social norms can increase pro-environmental and health behaviours. This PhD project will investigate the role of social norms in meat intake, offline and in specific social media contexts and test the extent to which social norm messages reduce meat food choices. It aims to contribute to understanding the strengths and limitations of undertaking comparative social research across online and offline contexts.

This is an interdisciplinary PhD project. It brings together disciplines concerned with human behaviour and the ways in which it might change as a result of specific communication practices: psychology and communication studies/sociology. As such, it will use a range of methods from these disciplines, such as social media analysis, online surveys, focus groups and the laboratory and ‘real world’ assessment of eating behaviour. The ideal candidate therefore will have some knowledge of both sociology/communication studies and psychology.

The successful candidate will gain interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and expertise in the assessment of behaviour, behaviour change, social media analytics and social media cultures, areas in which the supervisory team have extensive expertise and in which the candidate will receive extensive training. The project will produce novel findings about the role of social norms in developing sustainable futures.

Interviews are expected to take place on the morning of Tuesday 10th April 2018.

Key words: Social norms, eating behaviour, food choice, food intake, meat intake, sustainable diets, social media, sociology, psychology, communication studies
Subject areas: Communication, Cultural and Media Studies; Psychology; Sociology

Funding notes
This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.  Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.  Applications should be received and complete by Monday 26th March 2018.

What to include in the application
Your application for this studentship should be accompanied by a CV and a 200 word supporting statement. Your statement should outline your aspirations and motivation for studying in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. You should also outline any relevant experience and interests that you have in sustainability issues.

Please select ‘Standard PhD’ and the department of this project’s lead supervisor. Fill in the title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. The starting date of the PhD will be the start of the next academic year – 1 Oct 2018. The ‘Funding stage’ on the form will be ‘project studentship’.