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Using age-progression facial morphing to encourage smoking cessation in women and the role of physiological stress reactivity in predicting its effectiveness. THIS OFFER IS NOW CLOSED

Vice-Chancellor PhD Scholarship



The aim of this research is to study the effectiveness of an appearance-related smoking cessation intervention with women and to explore whether the physiological arousal and stress reactivity during the facial morphing intervention would predict motivation to quit and long-term cessation of smoking in 18-55 year old women smokers.

Aims and objectives

In spite of health promotion campaigns to reduce smoking and the banning of smoking in public places, 19% women in the UK remain regular smokers (1). Lung cancer rates are increasing in women, and lung cancer now kills 4000 more women each year than breast cancer (2). Most smoking cessation campaigns focus on health-related outcomes such as lung cancer risk, but there is growing evidence that women smokers may respond better to smoking threats to their appearance than to their health (3-5). The facial morphing intervention software (APRIL®-age-progression) enables a digital picture of a person’s face to be aged with and without smoking up to seventy-two years through wrinkling/ageing algorithms. The proposed study will investigate the impact of using this novel, age-appearance morphing intervention on women’s intention to smoke, smoking-related attitudes, nicotine dependence and smoking behaviour. Additionally, anxiety and depression will be investigated as potential moderators. Furthermore, given that Grogan’s (6) work suggested that women’s shock reaction to their morphed images was an important factor that might drive motivation to quit, this research will aim also to study whether the physiological arousal and stress reactivity (measured by electrodermal activity and peripheral blood circulation) during the facial morphing intervention would predict motivation to quit and long-term cessation of smoking in 18-55 year old women smokers, and will explore the potential for enhancing facial morphing intervention effectiveness by tailoring it to participants’ physiological arousal. 


1. Cancer Research UK (2015). Tobacco Statistics. Retrieved 5th March 2015 from

2. National Health Service (2015). Lung cancer in women. Retrieved 5th March 2015 from:

3. Flett, K., Clark-Carter, D., Grogan, S., & Davey, R. (2013). How effective are physical appearance interventions in changing smoking perceptions, attitudes and behaviours? A systematic review. Tobacco Control. 22, 74-79.

4. Grogan, S., Fry, G., Gough, B., & Conner, M. (2009). Smoking to stay thin or giving up to save face. Young men and women talk about appearance concerns and smoking. British Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 175-186.

5. Williams, A.L., Grogan, S., Clark-Carter, D. & Buckley, E. (2013). Impact of a Facial-ageing Intervention versus a Health Literature Intervention on Women's Sun Protection Attitudes and Behavioural Intentions. Psychology and Health, 28, 993-1008.

6. Grogan, S., Flett, K., Clark-Carter, D., Gough, B., Davey, R., Richardson, D., & Rajaratnam, G. (2010). Women smokers’ experiences of an age-appearance anti-smoking intervention: A qualitative study. British Journal of Health Psychology, 16, 675-689.

Specific requirements of the project

Essential criteria:

Desirable criteria:

The project start date is expected to be September 2017


Student eligibility

The Scholarship is open to UK and EU students.


Informal enquiries can be made to:

Cate Lawton,

The supervisory team for this project will be Dr Maria Cordero, and Prof Sarah Grogan. Specific queries regarding the research project will be forwarded to the supervisory team for response.

How to apply

Please quote the reference: VC-HPSC-MC-2017-5 .

Applications should be completed using the Postgraduate Research Degree Application Form.

Application Form should be emailed to:


Closing date

Research Study