The effect of perceived appearance judgements on psychological and biological stress processes across adulthood
Date of Original Version
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 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 judgements 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 judgements were associated with increased stress and greater depressive symptoms among adults. Study 1 examined the associations between self-reported appearance judgements and cortisol stress responses in response to a laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test) among 71 individuals aged 18–65. Study 2 assessed self-reported appearance judgements and depressive symptoms among 498 adults ages 18–65 via an online survey data collection. Appearance judgement was associated with a stronger cortisol response, higher self-reported stress, and greater depressive symptoms. Stress mediated all associations between appearance judgements and depressive symptoms and neither age nor gender moderated these associations. The findings suggest that appearance judgements contribute to psychological and biological stress processes and demonstrated that stress mediated the association between appearance judgements and depressive symptoms.
Sabik, Natalie J.; Geiger, Ashley M.; Thoma, Myriam V.; Gianferante, Danielle; Rohleder, Nicolas; and Wolf, Jutta M., "The effect of perceived appearance judgements on psychological and biological stress processes across adulthood" (2019). Health Studies Faculty Publications. Paper 34.