Can Plastic Surgery Change People’s Perception of You?
People undergo plastic surgery for a number of reasons. Some procedures are performed to remedy scarring or disfigurements, while other procedures are elective cosmetic enhancements. Whatever the motivation behind undergoing plastic surgery, the goal is always the same: to look better.
Now, a new study suggests that, apart from helping you look more physically appealing, plastic surgery can actually affect how others perceive your personality.
The Scientific Study
This year, a team of researchers performed a study to examine the psychological effects of plastic surgery. For the study, which was published in the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery journal, the researchers used before-and-after pictures of 30 women who had recently undergone some type of facial rejuvenation surgery, such as face-lifts, neck lifts or chin implants.
Participants in the study were then asked to examine the before-and-after photographs of the women, judging the individuals on six key personality traits. These traits included extroversion, likeability, trustworthiness, aggression, general social skills and whether or not the woman was a risk taker.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that the cosmetic enhancements greatly impacted how certain traits were perceived. Although there wasn’t a significant change in the perceived aggression, extroversion, trustworthiness or risk-taking of the women between the two photos, in general the participants found the women to be more likeable and possessing greater social skills in their post-procedure photos.
So why would plastic surgery make someone subjectively more likeable?
The Science Behind It
The study confirms a theory of human behavior called “facial profiling.” In short, facial profiling refers to the tendency of people to infer traits about others based on, among other things, their facial expressions. It’s a kind of mental shortcut that your brain performs naturally. From an evolutionary standpoint, facial profiling serves as a safety measure, as it allows us to determine whether or not someone is a threat to us.
In the case of the women in the study, they were perceived as more likable after their procedures because the surgeries altered key aspects of their appearance. Procedures like face-lifts and eyebrow lifts smooth out the surface of the skin. And since we naturally perceive people with fuller cheeks and fewer wrinkles to be happier, the women became subjectively more likeable.
Obviously, these kinds of snap judgments aren’t always accurate, and in fact, they’re often not. However, there’s virtually no way to turn off the facial profiling mechanisms in our brains. Therefore, a person’s appearance will always be a major factor in how they’re perceived.
If you or someone you know would like more information about plastic surgery, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!
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