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Cosmetic surgery can have social costs

Article-Cosmetic surgery can have social costs

Hong Kong — Attitudes toward patients who have had cosmetic procedures are widely negative outside of Western cultures, researchers have found.

Despite the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery globally, little is known about how patients are socially evaluated, leading investigators with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to evaluate attitudes toward these patients based on two surveys in Hong Kong, Japan and the United States.

According to study authors, the primary objective was to document attitudes toward cosmetic surgery patients. Researchers also sought to identify the role culture plays in these attitudes.

The researchers worked from three hypotheses: that these attitudes are largely negative, that the attitudes are more negative in Asian cultures than in Western ones, and that social contact mediates the cultural differences in attitudes. Responses to the two surveys appeared to support the hypotheses.

“Across these cultures, attitudes toward cosmetic surgery patients were predominantly negative,” the study abstract stated. “Participants ascribed more negative attributes to cosmetic surgery patients and found cosmetic surgery not acceptable. Also, participants in Hong Kong and Japan were not willing to form social relationships, particularly intimate ones, with these patients.”

The study notes that attitudes were less negative in the United States than in Hong Kong and Japan, partly because social contact, which is known to reduce negativity in attitudes toward cosmetic surgery patients, is more prevalent in the United States.

“As technology is increasingly advanced, it is no longer a dream for anyone to artificially construct his or her beauty,” the authors wrote. “However, doing so may incur some social costs. How these costs vary across cultures, how cosmetic surgery patients manage these social costs, and how these costs affect these patients’ subjective well-being are important topics for future research.”

The study was published in the Journal of Social Psychology.

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