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PLoS One. 2018 Aug 3;13(8):e0201347. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201347. eCollection 2018.

Why do women want to be beautiful? A qualitative study proposing a new "human beauty values" concept.

Kim S1, Lee Y1,2.

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Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.
Research Institute of Human Ecology at Seoul National University, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.


This study investigated the underlying reasons women desire to be beautiful in South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cultures by proposing a new concept called human beauty value (HBV). This exploratory qualitative study includes a literature review in related disciplines and the results from ten focus group interviews. Based on the interviews, this study proposes four dimensions of HBV (i.e., superiority, self-development, individuality, and authenticity) and a hierarchical process among the antecedents (i.e., social comparison, social competition, and social norms), the pursuit of HBV, and the consequences (i.e., emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral aspects). Participants from each culture revealed a unique hierarchical process of HBV that reflects both cultural universality and specificity. The results of this study lead to new knowledge about East Asian women's identities and perceptions of beauty. In addition, the proposed concept, HBV, can broaden the academic lens for beauty-related disciplines.

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