Ok, it’s a bizarre topic, I’ll grant you that, but bare with me. I wrote recently about the way our face plays a big part in the first impressions people have of us, whether that’s friendly or ominous, smart or stupid. Broadly speaking, there isn’t a great deal that we can do to change our face, unless, of course, you plump for plastic surgery, and that’s exactly what a recent study explored.
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It’s, perhaps not surprisingly, the first study to examine how our perceptions of women change once they’ve undertaken certain plastic surgery procedures. The results revealed the woman as becoming more likeable with better social skills after the surgery.
As the previous study highlighted, the facial appearance is pretty important and has evolutionary roots because as humans we have traditionally judged a person incredibly quickly based upon their appearance.
"Our animal instinct tells us to avoid those who are ill-willed and we know from previous research that personality traits are drawn from an individual’s neutral expressions," the researchers say.
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The researchers set out to both evaluate and quantify the various changes in perception that plastic surgery can invoke. They explored various types of treatment, including eye lifts, neck lifts, face lifts and brow lifts.
Before and after photos of 30 women were shown to a group of participants who were asked to rate each woman on a range of things, including their attractiveness and their rating for the main personality traits, such as likeability, extroversion, aggressiveness, risk aversion and trustworthiness. To try and make the process fair, none of the participants saw before and after shots of the same woman, and none were aware that any surgery had been performed.
The results were quite shocking. Improved perceptions were recorded in areas such as likeability, social skills, femininity and attractiveness while there was also a small improvement in trustworthiness too.
"Having a facelift and lower eye lift were the two procedures that appeared to garner more favorable reviews after surgery, with the lower eye lift carrying a little more weight," the authors say.
Central to these gains, the authors suggest, are the eyes, with previous studies highlighting their importance for things such as trustworthiness.
"This may explain why the patients who had a lower eyelift were found to be significantly more attractive and feminine, and experienced improved trustworthiness scores," they say.
The researchers attempted to determine whether there were any particular factors that may have produced unfavourable responses but were unable to identify anything of statistical significance. However, some of the women were rated as looking more aggressive and perhaps more likely to take risks after they had surgery.
"The comprehensive evaluation and treatment of the facial rejuvenation patient requires an understanding of the changes in a person’s perceived aura that are likely to occur with surgery beyond just the traditional measures of age and attractiveness," the authors say.
Of course, we should be careful of drawing too many conclusions, as the sample was relatively small and homogenous. As such its wider appeal may be limited, but nevertheless, the researchers believe it has some implications.
"It’s reasonable to expect that patients would like to know how each surgical procedure could affect others’ perceptions of their personality traits. As we gain more specific knowledge about what these changes in perception are, we will be able to improve outcomes for our patients," they conclude.
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Have you noticed people who have had plastic surgery being treated differently at work? Your thoughts and comments below please...