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The body beautiful

30 November 2006

Lacking confidence in your physique? Feeling bloated even before the Christmas splurge? Researchers at the University of Plymouth are evaluating ways to help people overcome any feelings of body dissatisfaction - and they need volunteers!

Participants, who can be male or female, will be given the chance to try one of the two forms of positive 'self help' for body image dissatisfaction currently being evaluated at the University's School of Psychology. The study comes at a time when many people are becoming obsessed with their body image and researchers hope to help people overcome their doubts and change the way they think about their bodies.

Professor of Health Psychology Michael Hyland, who is leading the study, said: "People sometimes feel dissatisfied with the way their body looks. Cosmetic surgery is on the increase and people are pressured by the media to fit to an ideal which, in the majority of cases, is unattainable and can be unhealthy. In our research, we are comparing two self-help ways of encouraging people to feel better about their bodies. In many cases, the problem isn't with your body but with the way you think about it - in other words, you don't need to change yourself, just the way you think about yourself."

Volunteers will be asked to complete three brief online questionnaires, after which they will be asked to download and work through the provided workbook. The task in the workbook will only take 5-10 minutes of their time each day and researchers ask that they carry out the exercise for three days in total. After the three days, they will be contacted via email and asked to tell the researchers if they thought the self help workbook was effective. An anonymous participant who has already signed up to the study said: "I am glad I took part, I found the whole experience very positive."

To sign up for the study, volunteers should contact:  


For further information please email: Professor Michael Hyland is available for interview - please contact the PR Office to arrange.

Notes to Editors:

All personal information and responses from volunteers will be kept strictly confidential. Researchers will need their email address, however, to be able to contact them to ask how the therapy went. The exercises are purely self-help so they will not need to meet the research team - all communications will be made via email. Participants can withdraw from the study at any point via email.

About the University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth is consistently ranked as one of the top five modern universities in the UK and is a national leader for teaching excellence. This achievement has helped it to secure an extra £33 million in funding over the next five years. It is one of only two universities to have been awarded seven prestigious National Teaching Fellowships and also demonstrates research of both national and international excellence.

With around 30,000 students (including those who study at partner FE colleges within the University of Plymouth Colleges faculty) it is one of the largest universities in the UK - and proud to retain its reputation for friendliness. With a track record of 'widening participation', business partnerships and vocational courses, it has a high rate of graduate employment and is committed to improving the student experience, demonstrated by significant investment in new facilities.