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Psychological impacts of appearance dissatisfaction. Overview. Why people may be self-conscious – reminder Impact Emotional - feelings Cognitive - thoughts Behaviours. Many reasons people may be self-conscious of appearance . . . . For example, acne scarring.

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Presentation Transcript
overview
Overview

Why people may be self-conscious – reminder

Impact

Emotional - feelings

Cognitive - thoughts

Behaviours

many reasons people may be self conscious of appearance1
Many reasons people may be self-conscious of appearance . . .

For example,

“Port wine stain” skin difference

many reasons people may be self conscious of appearance2
Many reasons people may be self-conscious of appearance . . .

For example,

Weight/ size (real or imagined)

psychological impact
Psychological impact

Emotion – what is felt

Cognition – what is thought

Behaviour – what is/n’t done

psychological impact1
Psychological impact

Emotion – what is felt

Cognition – what is thought

Behaviour – what is/n’t done

The three dimensions to consider

emotional impacts what is felt
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Anxiety – especially social anxiety

“a fear of exposure to social situations . . .

. . . fear, confusion, pounding heart, sweating, shaking, blushing, muscle tension, upset stomach.”

emotional impacts what is felt1
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Depression

“sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.”

More common in weight/size differences than other visible differences

emotional impacts what is felt2
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Shame

Internalised and/or

externalised shame

emotional impacts what is felt3
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Internalised Shame

“acceptance that one has personal attributes (e.g. body shape, size or textures) that are inferior/unattractive, and will result in rejection”

emotional impacts what is felt4
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Externalised Shame

“awareness that once is a member of a stigmatised group”

emotional impacts what is felt5
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Isolation – physical and emotional distance

Feltsense of isolation, and a realdistance

  • Strangers
  • Colleagues
  • Friends
  • Family
emotional impacts what is felt6
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Sense of belonging is a key human need.

emotional impacts what is felt7
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Feeling “Abnormal”/ “Other”

Not belonging

On the outside,

looking in

emotional impacts what is felt8
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Physical Aggression

Verbal Aggression

Anger

Hostility

Sometimes observed as reaction to having different appearance

emotional impacts what is felt9
Emotional impacts – what is felt

Aggression

Often masks underlying fear and anxiety

Anxiety may not be conscious

cognitive impacts what it thought
Cognitive impacts – what it thought

Fear of negative evaluation

I expect you to think badly of who I am or what I look like

cognitive impacts what is thought
Cognitive impacts – what is thought

Increased salience

  • preoccupation with own/others’ appearance (esp. sensitive “features”)

The way I look is often in my thoughts

cognitive impacts what is thought1
Cognitive impacts – what is thought

Interpretation of ambiguity

In social situations, I expect you to be reacting to the way I look (even if you actually might not be)

cognitive impacts what is thought2
Cognitive impacts – what is thought

Interpretation of ambiguity

E.g., when someone is passed in the street by a friend with no acknowledgement:-

  • friend might be highly distracted, in a hurry, etc. – or
  • may be actively ignoring the person.

Self-conscious person most likely to think (b)

cognitive impacts what is thought3
Cognitive impacts – what is thought

Attention to social threat stimuli

I will scan the social world to check out the possibility of people staring at me, talking about me, noticing me

understanding staring
Understanding staring
  • Staring, “double takes”, furtive glances

Poor adjustment – assumes malicious reasons

(e.g., disliking appearance, disgust, etc.)

understanding staring1
Understanding staring
  • Staring, “double takes”, furtive glances

Positive adjustment – assumes benign reasons

(e.g., curiosity, natural attention to noticing difference etc.)

awareness of own self
Awareness of own self

Trigger: an audience, mirror, camera

Negative feeling (anxiety, depression)

behavioural impacts what is n t done
Behavioural impacts – what is/n’t done

Social avoidance

  • Restaurants, bars
  • Shops
  • Public transport
  • Work/interviews
behavioural impacts what is n t done1
Behavioural impacts – what is/n’t done

Social avoidance

A short term strategy

Linked to poor outcomes

behavioural impacts what is n t done2
Behavioural impacts – what is/n’t done

Reduced social contact Loss of social skills

social functioning
Social functioning

Interaction quality is related to body confidence

Study example: participants rated

  • all their interactions lasting > 10 mins, over 3 week period, &
  • their own body image
social functioning1
Social functioning

Interaction quality is related to body confidence

Findings:

Positive body image was associated with greater perceived intimacy & social confidence in social interactions

social skills improve body image
Social skills improve body image
  • Enhance social functioning by practicing
    • Conversational opening/maintenance/closing
    • Skills to develop social intimacy
    • Appearance specific skills
      • How to handle direct questions about appearance
      • How to handle stares, “second looks”, etc.

Enhanced social functioning improves body image

Enhanced body image improves social functioning

please consider now
Please consider now . . .

How might appearance self-consciousness manifest at different points in the lifespan?

How might the concerns and behaviours of adolescents compare to older adults?

please consider now1
Please consider now . . .

How might appearance self-consciousness manifest in different contexts?

Consider the home, in close relationships, in public settings, in work/training/education?

please consider now2
Please consider now . . .

Can having a “different” and stigmatised appearance every have any positive implications for the individual concerned?

What might these be?

please consider now3
Please consider now . . .

Can having a “different” and stigmatised appearance every have any positive implications for the individual concerned?

Example: for some, unusual appearances have prompted consideration of core life values.

“Now I recognise what is really important in life, I know who my good friends are, and what really matters to me”

summary different appearance increased risk for
Summary: Different appearance increased risk for . . .

Anxiety, depression, shame

Isolation, avoidance of others

Unhelpful thinking

Impact will vary across situations, time

tips for trainers
Tips for trainers
  • Be aware that appearance dissatisfaction may show through behaviour, thinking differences, or emotional responses
  • Note the vicious cycles associated with negative impacts of appearance – help clients identify and break these
  • Note potential virtuous cycles – help clients establish these (e.g., though enhanced social skills)