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Rejection fuels interest in cosmetic surgery

Buffalo, N.Y. — Researchers here say they have found that people who feel sensitive to rejection based on physical appearance are more likely to express interest in having cosmetic surgery than those who are less sensitive to appearance-based rejection. This effect is particularly true when people recall negative comments about their physical appearance, reports news source ScienceDaily.

The study, which appeared in the June issue of the journal Body Image, was conducted by a team led by Lora E. Park, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo. The study examined the role appearance-based rejection sensitivity — the tendency to expect rejection based on one’s appearance — plays in people’s interest in cosmetic surgery.

For the study, 133 American college students were randomly assigned to write an essay about a negative or positive comment on their appearance that they had received in the past. Compared with participants with lower appearance-based rejection sensitivity, those with higher sensitivity felt more rejected and expressed greater interest in getting cosmetic surgery after recalling a negative comment.

The study found that negative appearance comments were most often made about body weight, shape and size, while positive comments were most often made in reference to overall appearance.

ScienceDaily quotes Dr. Park as saying, “The results of this study suggest that individuals who anxiously expect rejection based on their appearance are vulnerable to the effects of negative comments about their appearance. Sensitivity to appearance rejection may therefore be a key psychological variable to consider when examining responses to teasing related to appearance, especially with regard to feeling rejected and expressing interest in cosmetic surgery.”

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