I completed my PhD in Experimental Psychology at Cambridge University supervised by Prof John Mollon FRS and Prof Jim Bowmaker, before working with Prof Trevor Robbins FRS on post-doctoral research also in the Experimental Psychology Department at Cambridge. I then carried out further post-doctoral research with Prof Ed Rolls in the Experimental Psychology Department at Oxford University. I then moved to take up the post of Reader in Visual Cognition at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, before moving to take up my current post.
My research focuses on the problem of body image dysfunction in Eating Disordered patients. People with Eating Disorders usually exhibit strong concerns about their weight and tend to overestimate their body size. This body image dysfunction is a key diagnostic feature in both Anorexia and Bulimia, and plays an important role in the aetiology and maintenance of these conditions. By understanding both the perceptual and psychological factors in how people assess their bodies, we hope to develop new strategies to improve the treatment of these conditions.
My research also explores human mate selection and the perception of physical attractiveness in an evolutionary psychology context. One of the most fundamental problems for any organism is mate selection. In evolutionary terms it is important that we are sensitive to the physical cues that honestly signal that one individual is more desirable (i.e. fitter and with a better reproductive potential) than another, and use these cues to choose the partner who is most likely to enhance our chances of successful reproduction. My research has focussed on the visual cues on which these judgements are based, and how environment and context may alter these judgements.
I am an Editor of PLoS ONE and Evolution, Mind & Behaviour
CURRENT PhD SUPERVISION
Tracey Thornborrow, Kamila Irvine & JiaWei Liu
FORMER PhD STUDENTS
Fran Cormack, Katri Cornelissen, Kara Crossley, Joanne Emery, Sandra Fernandes-Machado, Hannah George, Lucinda Gledhill, Huw Golledge, Alistair Gray, Katie Green, Doug Maisey, Sue Mason, Katy Smith, Willemijn Spoor, Nicki Turnill & Matt Walker
Impact of media access and local ecology on beauty ideals in Nicaragua. Leverhulme Trust (£249,918). Investigators: L.G. Boothroyd & M.J. Tovée. 2013-2017.
How can we help Parents Recognise Unhealthy Body Weight in their Children? Medical Research Council (£450,486). Investigators: A.J. Adamson, M.J. Tovée, M.S. Pearce, V.L. Araujo-Soares & K.N. Parkinson. 2012-2015.
Exploring the Role of Attentional Bias in Moderating the Efficacy of Emotional Disclosure. Medical Research Council pilot funding (£10,000). Investigators:. K. Vedhara, M.J. Tovée & B. Mackintosh 2006.
Visual cues to health and fitness. Medical Research Council (£45,000): Investigator: M.J. Tovée & P.L. Cornelissen. 2003-2006.
Exploration of How Different Types of Advertising are Processed and the Development of a Psychological/Behavioural Model for the Evaluation of Advertising Effectiveness (£60,415) Unilever U.K. Ltd. Investigator: M.J. Tovée. 2001-2004.
Visual Neuroethology. Wellcome Trust-JIF Award (£8,300,000). Investigators: M.P. Young, M.J. Tovée, J. Harris, Y. Tadmor, G. Jordan, M. Bateson & C. Rowe. 2000-2006.
Visual systems neuroscience: segmentation & integration. Wellcome Trust. (£869,549) Investigators: M.P. Young, M.J. Tovée & A.C. Hurlbert. 1999-2004.
Post-retinal processing of colour in the visual system of the new world primate, the common marmoset. Wellcome Trust. (£174,852). Investigators: M.J. Tovée & A.C. Hurlbert. 1999-2003.
Does the Contraceptive Pill Alter Female Preferences for Body Odours? Wellcome Trust. (£175,840) Investigators: M. Petrie, M.J. Tovée & M. Gosling. 2001-2004.
Changes in visual perception and attention in Lewy Body Dementia. Research Into Ageing. (£65,000) Investigators: M.J. Tovée & C. Ballard. 1997-2000.
Memory and attention in Parkinsonian Dementia. Northumberland NHS Trust R&D grant (£60,000) Investigators: M.J. Tovée & C. Ballard. 1997-2000.
Neural synchrony and visual feature integration. Wellcome Trust. (£180,000) Investigators: M.P. Young & M.J. Tovée & 1997-2000.
The perception of body size and ideal body shape in Eating Disordered observers. University Studentship. (£40,000) Investigator: M.J. Tovée. 1994-1997