The Psychology of Appearance

The Psychology of Appearance

The Psychology of Appearance

The Psychology of Appearance

Synopsis

Appearance-related concerns and distress are experienced by a significant proportion of people with visible disfigurements, and are also reaching epidemic proportions in the general population. In the light of these developments, this book includes:
  • A comprehensive summary and critical evaluation of research and understanding concerning the psychology of appearance
  • A historical review of research to date
  • A review of the methodological challenges for researchers in this area
  • An overview of current understanding of appearance-related concerns and distress in the general population and among those with acquired or congenital disfigurements such as burns, clefts of the lip and/or palate, scarring and acne
Exploring the psychosocial factors which are protective and those which exacerbate distress, The Psychology of Appearance offers a vision of a comprehensive approach to support and intervention and addresses the following questions:
  • Are attractive people at an advantage in life?
  • What are the challenges presented by having a visibly different appearance?
  • What are the psycho-social factors playing a part in individual differences in levels of adjustment and distress in relation to appearance?
  • How can interventions meet the needs of those affected?
The Psychology of Appearance provides essential reading for psychology students, health and clinical psychologists, health professionals, employers and policy makers interested in the ramifications of appearance concerns.

Excerpt

The invitation to write this book generated the time-honoured mix of emotions, but despite some trepidation (relating most notably to time pressures and self-doubt), the challenge was irresistible. We knew the book would be timely in view of the growing need to point up the relevance of the role of appearance in areas of key concern to health psychologists, including adjustment and wellbeing, understanding and changing health behaviours and in adherence to treatment regimes.

We experienced the usual problems in making and defending the time necessary to write. As deadlines loomed, we twice escaped the pressures of the daily grind and retreated to an idyllic seaside setting in Cornwall. The combination of stunning scenery and the lack of invasive technology (no fax or Internet connection and only a distant mobile phone mast) provided the perfect environment for writing and gave us the impetus necessary to complete the task.

Appearance is a universal topic with relevance to all. We all have an appearance of some kind, and, with the exception of identical twins, there are more than six billion unique appearances in the world. Our outward appearance plays a part in the minutiae of daily life – from our frequent encounters with others to its role in a broad raft of health behaviours. Although people have always been interested in outward appearances and have actively engaged in a range of activities to manage their looks since records began, in current society appearance concerns have reached epidemic proportions. Ninety-two per cent of teenage girls in the UK are unhappy with their body shape (Wardle, reported in The Times, 25 September 2004) and the proportion of teenagers and adults now prepared to engage in activities which carry significant health risks is increasing rapidly. As Linney (2004) pointed out, although it is illegal to discriminate against any person on the grounds of ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation or marital status, it is still widely accepted that we make stereotypical judgements (especially . . .

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