Collaborative research between psychologists at the University of Kent and China's Zhejiang University has resulted in the development and preliminary validation of a new diagnostic measure to gauge individual differences in people's hopes and concerns about a perfect physical appearance.
Named the Physical Appearance Perfectionism Scale (PAPS), it is hoped that this tool will help stimulate much needed research into a personality disposition characterised by striving for flawlessness and exceedingly high personal standards, overly critical self-evaluations, and concerns about others' evaluations of one's physical appearance.
PAPS was developed and tested by Kent's Dr Joachim Stoeber and Dr Hongfei Yang at Zhejiang. Their research involved eight separate studies with 2316 students at Zhejiang's Xixi campus and Kent's Canterbury campus between 2006 and 2010. A paper describing the research is currently in press with the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment.
Dr Stoeber said: "Today's society places great importance on people's physical appearance. We are surrounded by pictures of other people who look 'perfect': on billboards, in newspapers and magazines, on TV and in the movies, and on the internet. Perfect looks are highly valued because they symbolise success, happiness and being loved and admired by others. Consequently, many people strive to look perfect, and many others are concerned about their physical appearance worrying that they may not look perfect."
Dr Yang added: "The purpose of our study was to develop a multidimensional measure of physical appearance perfectionism that will help identify the associations between physical appearance perfectionism and general perfectionism, self-perceptions regarding physical appearance, and behaviours aimed at improving one's physical appearance and making a favourable impression. By doing so we hope to help elucidate the role that physical appearance perfectionism plays in body-image disturbance and body dissatisfaction."
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