According to a new study, conducted in collaboration by the universities of Kent and Buffalo, men and women who feel pressure to look attractive are also more afraid of rejection than their peers who do not feel the same pressure. The results of the investigations also revealed that the pressure affects especially college students, who are more likely than adults to want to resemble music or movie stars. Within younger age groups, generally, the tendency to outcast people who do not fit a certain beauty or behavior standard is especially strong.
The research, which was published in the spring edition of the American Psychological Association's journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, was led by assistant professor of psychology Lora Park, PhD and graduate student Ann Marie DiRaddo from the University of Buffalo, and University of Kent lecturer in psychology Rachel Calogero, PhD. The primary goal of the study was to assess the levels of sensitivity to appearance-based rejection on young college students.
“There is a lot of research to suggest that physically attractive people are less stigmatized by others in this society, and have significant advantages in many areas of life than those who are viewed as physically unattractive. Our study suggests that when people feel pressure to look attractive, whether from their friends or the media, they may be putting themselves at risk for experiencing negative outcomes that may limit their development and enjoyment of life in many ways,” Park explains.
Young women were especially affected by this trend, as they felt the need to be accepted by their peers more than men did. They proved to be very sensitive about the way they looked, and also very prone to be upset by comments on the way they looked, coming from their “more attractive” peers. Appearance-based discrimination is nothing new, but few studies have thus far been conducted on the way men and women discriminate inside the same race. This type of discriminatory behavior is usually characteristic to inter-ethnic or inter-racial tensions.
Park says that the phenomenon might manifest itself on a much larger scale within the general population, and that longitudinal studies, including more ethnicities, races and age groups are required in order to assess its full extent. The recent investigation was mostly conducted on White students, of which 106 were women, and 114 men.