UNT study finds genders equally concerned over physical appearance
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- New University of North Texas research looking into what motivates a person to undergo plastic surgery has found that gender is not a significant factor in whether or not a person wants plastic surgery.
“Concern over beauty and appearance is moving toward men as well, and both genders have worries about their appearance. In my testing the impact of emotion and the self-comparison against popular images of beauty was shown for both sexes,” said Atefeh Yazdanparast Ardestani, who recently earned her doctoral degree from UNT’s College of Business.
Yazdanparast conducted two experimental studies in confined environments to find out what motivates people to undergo plastic surgery procedures. She observed how a person’s self-awareness, access to beauty standards and levels of pride and shame impacted their interest in plastic surgery.
Her research showed the level of pride and shame a person, male or female, feels contributes directly to their decision to undergo plastic surgery, and decisions also can be swayed by comparing a person’s own appearance to an “ideal” body type.
In her studies Yazdanparast worked with participants randomly assigned to either a room equipped with a full-length mirror or no mirror.
“When individuals become the target of their own attention, they will start thinking about themselves, their features and their appearance,” Yazdanparast said. “One way to create this is to expose individuals to a full-length mirror and create a sense of self awareness.”
Participants in both experiment rooms also were given a pamphlet including pictures of models of their same gender or a pamphlet with irrelevant pictures. Participants looked through the pamphlet, and then were asked a series of questions including those relating to their likelihood of undergoing plastic surgery procedures.
Her results revealed that when individuals are able to see themselves at the same time they see a beauty model, they are more likely to make a comparison between themselves and that model’s appearance.
In another study, prior to capturing participants’ likelihood to undergo plastic surgery, participants were induced to feel pride or shame via instructions reminding them of positive or negative experiences in their lives.
Yazdanparast found that inducing feelings of shame increased a person’s interest in plastic surgery, and inducing feelings of pride decreased a person’s interest in plastic surgery.
“The most exciting part for me was finding out that if individuals are induced to experience pride, their motivation to undergo plastic surgery procedures is diminished,” she said. “Reminding individuals of their qualifications and supporting positive emotions is very beneficial.”
Public service announcements from nonprofit organizations and governmental institutions would do well to develop strategic marketing campaigns in which they couple ordinary appearance with high levels of success to help reshape societal standards of success and pride, Yazdanparast said.
“Pride and shame are social self-conscious emotions, these are emotions that are induced and created in individuals through their interactions with other people, so we now can see how providing positive social support in our society can reduce a person’s sense of being flawed,” she said.
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