Using psychology to inform sustainable diets: acceptability of cultivated meats by parents and young children.

   College of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr J Thomas, Dr Eirini Theodosiou, Prof J Blissett, Dr C Farrow  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Providing sustainable protein through culturing meat from stem cells in vitro using tissue engineering has enormous potential to solve significant problems associated with meat production and consumption, including climate/environmental and animal welfare issues, as well as global food security and nutrition related health challenges. At Aston, we are developing cultivated meat with potential to vary ingredients (e.g. the ‘scaffolding’ used to develop the meat structure) based on consumer attitudes. However, little is known about acceptance of cultivated meats by parents and children, and it is rare that these views are fed back into the production process.

In very early childhood, sensory elements are key to acceptance and enjoyment, so we would expect that infants and young children would be accepting of cultivated meats, assuming the taste, texture and appearance of the cultivated meat fits their expectations. In contrast, adults’ food acceptance is much more likely to be motivated by a wider variety of factors including social norms, cultural acceptability, health concerns, moral and environmental factors. Thus, we expect greater variation in parents’ willingness to purchase and eat cultivated meats.

We need to understand more about the psychological factors that would predict the purchase and acceptance of cultivated meats and willingness to feed them to children, before we can roll out this technology to contribute significantly to the key global challenges of environment, dietary health and food security.


This PhD, on the interface between engineering and psychology, will achieve the following:

  1. Develop an understanding of the barriers and facilitators of parental purchase and provision of cultivated meat to young children;
  2. Experimentally confirm the factors predicting the acceptability of cultivated meat to parents and young children; and
  3. Identify and test key strategies to facilitate acceptance of cultivated meat by parents and young children.

Estimated yearly cost of consumables

£4,000 per year

Person Specification

A Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution)

Submitting an application

As part of the application, you will need to supply:

·        A copy of your current CV

·        Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree, and Masters degree (if studied); this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English

·        A research proposal statement*

·        Two academic references

·        Proof of your English Language proficiency

Details of how to submit your application can be found here

*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

Please include the supervisor’s name and project title in your Personal Statement.

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at [Email Address Removed]

Medicine (26) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

There is no funding for this project.
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