Reality TV Affects Attitudes About Cosmetic Surgery

At Rutgers University, professors of psychology found correlations between interest in aesthetic surgery and viewing of “surgical makeover” reality TV shows. According to results of their research, people who watch these reality shows are more likely to be interested in changing their appearance through plastic surgery.

In one study, the authors surveyed 170 participants and found that those who favored reality television shows about cosmetic surgery were more likely to show interest in pursuing their own procedure. In a second study, 189 participants were split into two groups, with one viewing a television program about a surgical makeover, while the other half was exposed to a neutral message. Participants viewing the surgical makeover program indicated greater interest in cosmetic surgery than the participants exposed to the neutral message.

Several networks have introduced programs with a significant focus on cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery has been shown on programs such as Real Housewives of Orange County or Extreme Makeover, The Doctors or The Biggest Loser. But are these programs necessarily giving us a realistic picture of cosmetic surgery or the medical field in general? If viewers are as impressionable as the study indicates, there’s surely a need to present a more realistic and less sensational documentation of cosmetic surgery.

Read an abstract or purchase access to the study mentioned here, “A correlational and experimental examination of reality television viewing and interest in cosmetic surgery” on PubMed.

Posted in: Research Study

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