Professor Viren Swami

Professor of Social Psychology


Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Psychology and Sport Science

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Societies and Groups

Research Supervision:Yes

Viren is a social psychologist whose research focuses on the psychology of  body image and human appearance.

[email protected]

Find Viren on ResearchGate


Viren joined Anglia Ruskin University as a Professor of Social Psychology in 2015, having previously worked at the University of Westminster and the University of Liverpool. He is co-director of the ARU, as well as of the Centre for Psychological Medicine, a collaborative research centre between ARU and Perdana University in Malaysia. He is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and is ranked in the top 2% of the most-cited scientists in the world.

Viren is a prominent science communicator and author, with extensive experience in television, radio, and digital and print media work. He also frequently presents his research at science, literary, and music festivals, and works with various public engagement organisations, including, Guerilla Science One Tenth Human. Viren’s most recent book, Attraction Explained (now in its second edition), has received critical acclaim, being praised as “beautifully written” while managing to be “scrupulously accurate”.

Research interests

Viren’s work is focused on understanding body image in different cultural, economic, and socio-political contexts. He is particularly interested in cross-cultural differences in body image and beauty ideals, and his research seeks to map changing patterns of body image across world regions. His related work applies psychometric theory and methods to understand how body image should be conceptualised across different national and linguistic groups. 

The overarching aim of this research is to develop positivist, interventionist methods that can effectively promote healthier body image and well-being across diverse populations. For example, Viren’s recent research has highlighted the ways in which exposure to nature can promote a more positive body image in diverse national context environments, the study of mental health literacy, especially of paternal postnatal depression, and the psychology of tattooing.

Areas of research supervision

  • Body image within different cultural and subcultural contexts
  • The promotion of positive body image
  • Nature exposure and psychological
  • Beauty ideals and practices, including body art
  • Embodying activities and influences
  • Psychometrics, including the translation and validation of measures

Find out more about our Psychology PhD.


  • PhD in Psychology, University College London, 2005
  • BSc (Hons) Psychology, University College London, 2002

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow, British Psychological Society
  • Fellow, Advance HE
  • Associate Editor, Body Image
  • Associate Editor, PLOS One
  • Board Director, Asian Psychological Associations

Selected recent publications


Swami, V., Grüneis, G. C., Voracek, M., & Tran, U. S. (2021). Mental health literacy of depression: A preregistered study reconsidering gendered differences using filmed disclosures. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, advance online publication. 

Andersen, N., & Swami, V. (2021). Science mapping research on body image: A bibliometric review of publication in Body Image, 2004 to 2020. Body Image 38, 106-119.

Swami, V., Horne, G., & Furnham, A. (2021). COVID-19 related stress and anxiety are associated with negative body image in adults from the United Kingdom. Personality and Individual Differences, 170, 110426.

Swami, V., Todd, J., Stieger, S., Furnham, A., Horne, G., & Tylka, T. (2021). Body acceptance by others: Refinement of the construct, and development and psychometric evaluation of a revised measure – the Body Acceptance by Others Scale-2. Body Image36, 238-253.

Swami, V. (2020). Body image benefits of allotment gardeningEcopsychology12, 19-23. 

Swami, V., Mohd. Khatib, N. A., Vidal-Mollón, J., Vintila, M., Barron, D., Goian, C., Mayoral, O. Toh, E. K. L., Tudorel, O., Vazirani, S., & Zahari, H. S. (2020). Visits to natural environments improve state body appreciation: Evidence from Malaysia, Romania, and SpainEcopsychology12, 24-35.

Swami, V., Barron, D., Smith, L., & Furnham, A. (2020). Mental health literacy of maternal and paternal postnatal (postpartum) depression in British adultsJournal of Mental Health29, 217-224. 

Swami, V., Tran. U. S., Barron, D., Afhami, R., Aimé, A., et al. (2020). The Breast Size Satisfaction Survey: Breast size dissatisfaction and its antecedents and outcomes in women from 40 countries. Body Image32, 199-217.

Swami, V., & Barron, D. (2019). Translation and validation of body image instruments: Challenges, good practice guidelines, and reporting recommendations for test adaptationBody Image31, 204-220

Media experience