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    Personality tool shows top five traits of potential cosmetic candidates

    Dr. Furnham
    LONDON — College students who rated themselves as having relatively low levels of physical attractiveness, as being more conscientious, less agreeable, less open and more emotionally stable, were more likely to consider cosmetic surgery, according to a recent study by London-based researchers. A total of 332 university students completed the 15-item Acceptance of Cosmetic Surgery Scale (ACSS), which measures aspects of a person's attitudes about cosmetic surgery on a seven-point scale. The study used an additional scale for assessing the "Big Five" personality factors (extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience), and measured students' self-esteem, conformity, self-assessed attractiveness and demographics.

    "We were interested to what extent all these things predicted whether they were likely to use or go for cosmetic surgery," study coauthor Adrian Furnham, DSc. D.Phil., professor of psychology, University College London, tells Cosmetic Surgery Times.

    SELF-PERCEPTION & MOTIVATION Using a structural equation model and looking for patterns in the data, Dr. Furnham and colleagues found the first predictor of cosmetic surgery acceptance was self-rated attractiveness, with subjects being more likely to consider cosmetic surgery if they rated themselves lower in physical attractiveness. And, like others, these researchers found that women were more likely than men to consider having cosmetic surgery.

    Conformists were more accepting of cosmetic surgery than nonconformists. College students who tend to be conformists, according to the research, might be more accepting of cosmetic surgery in order to satisfy their partners or other close relationships.

    The authors also reported that students who were emotionally stable were more likely to consider cosmetic surgery. According to the research, it may be the case that more neurotic people are anxious about the consequences of cosmetic surgery and focus on potential negative effects, such as pain.

    'AVANT GUARDED' "We found that people who are more creative, curious and imaginative are less likely to consider cosmetic surgery, possibly because they are not so conformist," he relates. "We also found that more disagreeable people are more likely to consider plastic surgery."

    According to the study published by Swami et al (2009), "Extrapolating from this evidence, it might be suggested that closed individuals have a more negative appearance evaluation (possibly as a function of their lower likelihood of accepting unconventional societal norms of attractiveness...)." There was not a strong finding for introversion and extroversion.

    "What this literature says is that the sort of person who comes to plastic surgery is rather a conformist, rather conservative, not very creative — not necessarily very likeable — but...is rather accepting of society's values," Dr. Furnham says.

    These findings might be more dramatic in the same study done on older people because college students are less likely than their older counterparts to be interested in or want cosmetic surgery, according to Dr. Furnham. This study does underscore, he says, the degree to which young people are very physically conscious of themselves and others.


    Henderson-King D, Henderson-King E. Acceptance of cosmetic surgery: Scale development and validation. Body Image. 2005;2:137-149.

    Swami V, Chamorro-Premuzic T, Bridges S, Furnham A. Acceptance of cosmetic surgery: personality and individual difference predictors. Body Image. 2009;6:7-13. Epub 2008 Nov 28.

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is a writer in Boca Raton, Fla., who heads up her company, Words Come Alive.


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