Age, feelings about appearance, and self esteem of women
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AbstractThis exploratory study sought to investigate age differences in satisfaction with appearance and feelings of attractiveness in women, and to examine the relationship of these two variables with self esteem and life satisfaction. In addition, how comparisons to others affect women's feelings about their own appearance was explored. Because women are valued for their physical appearance more so than men, it is often assumed that the negative consequences of aging are greater for women. Yet there is little evidence that older women are less satisfied with themselves and their lives than are younger women. Reference group theory and the related concepts of social and temporal comparisons have been utilized by self esteem theorists to help explain how individuals defend their self esteem against potential threats. These concepts have also provided an explanation as to why people who appear to differ on objective indicators of life situation, do not necessarily differ on subjective ratings of life satisfaction. They may also help explain how women adapt to the changes in appearance which accompany increasing age in a society such as ours which tends to equate beauty with youth. One-hundred and ten women of three different age groups--young, middle, and old, ranging in age from 25 to 77 years--completed measures of self esteem, life satisfaction, feelings of attractiveness to others, worry about attractiveness to males, and satisfaction with appearance. Measures of the background variables of health and activity level were also completed. In addition, a Comparisons of Appearance Scale, developed for this study, was included in an attempt to determine how comparisons to others might make women feel about their own appearance. Multiple analyses of variance differences on the mean scores variables. The women in the old revealed no significant age group of any of the appearance-related and middle age groups apparently felt as attractive to others and as satisfied with their appearance as did those in the young group. Pearson correlation and multiple regression analyses showed, however, that the relationships between self esteem and life satisfaction and the other variables differed among the three age groups. The results do not provide strong evidence that the use of comparisons help women adapt to age-related changes in appearance. There were indications that as women grow older they place less emphasis upon physical appearance as a factor relating to their feelings of attractiveness to others.
Bibliography: p. 137-150.
CitationMiles, E. M. (1986). Age, feelings about appearance, and self esteem of women (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/21930
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