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Stress Health. 2019 Mar 18. doi: 10.1002/smi.2863. [Epub ahead of print]

The effect of perceived appearance judgments on psychological and biological stress processes across adulthood.

Author information

1
Health Studies Program, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI.
2
Psychology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.
3
Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
4
Health Psychology, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Abstract

Social self-preservation theory posits that stress is experienced when an aspect of an individual's identity has the potential to be negatively evaluated. Appearance is a central part of identity, however, little research has examined whether perceived appearance judgments are a source of social-evaluative stress. In addition, stress may be an explanatory link in the association between appearance perceptions and depressive symptoms. This study examined whether perceived appearance judgments were associated with increased stress and greater depressive symptoms among adults. Study 1 examined the associations between self-reported appearance judgments and cortisol stress responses in response to a laboratory stressor (TSST) among 71 individuals aged 18-65. Study 2 assessed self-reported appearance judgments and depressive symptoms among 498 adults ages 18-65 via an online survey data collection. Appearance judgment was associated with a stronger cortisol response, higher self-reported stress, and greater depressive symptoms. Stress mediated all associations between appearance judgments and depressive symptoms and neither age nor gender moderated these associations. The findings suggest that appearance judgments contribute to psychological and biological stress processes and demonstrated that stress mediated the association between appearance judgments and depressive symptoms.

KEYWORDS:

Age Differences; Appearance Judgments; Depressive Symptoms; Gender; Stress

PMID:
30882988
DOI:
10.1002/smi.2863

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