Misogyny Online: Why does it happen and how can we stop it? (Ref: RDF22/HLS/PSY/BROWN)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr G Brown  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In a 2021 BBC News Panorama report the Specialist Disinformation Reporter, Marianna Spring, details the online abuse, including threats of violence, she receives daily on social media. She’s not the only one receiving abuse online. Many online activists, who are often from minority genders and/or ethnicities have the experience of being doxed (having their personal information like home address shared online). In fact, research shows that women are more than twice as likely as men to receive online abuse and it often targets their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Beyond being psychologically upsetting, online misogyny can silence women’s voices and create major barriers to women’s equal participation in public and political spheres. In an even more troubling trend, several men who later engaged in mass shootings posted online manifestos which evoked misogynistic ideas that spurred them to real-world violence against women.  

While many media stories evoke the dangers and psychological distress caused by online misogyny, relatively few psychology studies have examined women’s experiences of misogyny online or the consequences of these incidences. Nor have many studies attempted to intervene to reduce online misogyny. Indeed, recent calls have been made for social psychologists to address the issue of online misogyny.  

Notably, social media provides a unique environment in which misogyny can occur. First, the internet conveys some sense of anonymity which has been associated with a willingness to engage in online misogyny. Second, social media platforms allow users to garner large audiences. One consequence of such large audiences is that they convey power to social media users. Power makes it difficult to take others’ perspectives and this can lead to antisocial behaviours like hoarding resources or sexual harassment. However, power’s effects differ based on individual differences. A recent study found that a dominant personality was necessary in addition to power to increase antisocial behaviours.

We propose that online power may be driving the expression of online misogyny, but only for men who are high in social dominance.  Interestingly, social dominance orientation refers to the fact that people enjoy having categories that are ranked differently. Thus, this might help explain the intersectional nature of online misogyny which tends to target women from ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community. Therefore, the first aim of this PhD project is to test the role of power and social dominance orientation in predicting the likelihood of engaging in online misogyny. The second aim of this project is to examine ways of reducing misogyny online using the findings uncovered from the first aim of the PhD project.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Informal enquiries to Dr Genavee Brown ([Email Address Removed]).

Psychology (31) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Brown, G., & Greenfield, P. M. (2021). Staying connected during stay‐at‐home: Communication with family and friends and its association with well‐being. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, 3(1), 147-156.
Shepherd, L., & Evans, C. (2020). From gaze to outrage: The role of group-based anger in mediating the relationship between sexual objectification and collective action. Sex Roles, 82, 277-292
Paterson, J. L., Brown, R., & Walters, M. A. (2019). The short and longer term impacts of hate crimes experienced directly, indirectly and through the media. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 45(7), 994-1010. Doi:10.1177/0146167218802835.

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