Psychology student presents research at Appearance Matters, London

Posted by on 2 September 2016

ACAP’s Alexandra Page had the privilege of presenting her honours research completed in the ACAP School of Psychological Sciences at a prestigious international conference in July. This significant achievement adds to Alexandra’s impressive resume, which already includes receiving the 2015 Australian Psychology Society Prize for Academic Excellence in Psychology awarded for her performance in her honours year. 

Now a student in the ACAP Master of Clinical Psychology program, Alexandra expects to complete her studies at the Sydney campus in December 2017.

Her paper on ‘the role of surveillance and internalisation in eating disorder risk in women who are visually impaired’ was accepted for presentation at the Appearance Matters conference, which was held in London from 28 to 30 June.

"I have always found appearance and body-related issues fascinating,” said Alexandra.

“I grew up in the dance world, which is where I think my interest in the area of appearance issues began. This is when I first started noticing that something was not quite right - why and how is it that our society places so much pressure on women to be thin and men to be muscular?”

Since 2003 Appearance Matters has been run by the Centre for Appearance Research as a forum highlighting current psychosocial research, theory and practice related to matters of appearance.

Participants at the event include academics, clinical practitioners, researchers, hospital managers and policy makers involved in providing care and services to those negatively affected by issues linking appearance, identity and self-esteem.

ACAP Psychology lecturer, Dr Fiona Ann Papps, supervised Alexandra’s independent research project during 2015.

“Collaborating with Fiona for this project was great,” said Alexandra.

“We collected data from 120 women who were blind or vision impaired, and analysed the factors which predicted their body shame and disordered eating attitudes. Fiona's expertise in this area was vital to the research.”

Alexandra’s research held the attention of the prestigious Appearance Matters audience, with the student attributing the high interest to the rarity of the topic’s exposure and debate.

“Only two past papers have been published investigating body-related issues in women with vision impairment,” she said.

Fiona describes Alexandra’s APS award and the honour of having her research topic accepted by the prestigious London conference as the result of strong intellectual curiosity.

“Alexandra models values that are central to ACAP, and we are fortunate to have her representing the college at a world-renowned international conference,” said Fiona.

“The quality of Alexandra’s scholarship demonstrates the School of Psychological Sciences and ACAP as providing an outstanding undergraduate education for its students, and as inspiring innovative and influential psychological research. It was a pleasure to work with Alexandra, and support her in disseminating the results of her novel and important research.”

For Alexandra, the experience was both exciting and motivational.

“The atmosphere at the conference was unbelievable,” she said.

“It was held in a huge old building, soaked with history and tradition. If I had to describe the atmosphere in one word, it would be ‘grand’. All of the chairs in the room where I was presenting were occupied and there were even rows of people standing at the back. Everyone seemed really interested in my research, they were taking photos of my slides during my speech, and asked insightful questions when I finished.”

“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. It is one I will never forget. The next step now is having the research submitted for publishing."