A Rutgers psychology professor found that teens who watch cosmetic surgery reality TV shows, like Extreme Makeover, are more likely to be interested in these types of cosmetic surgery procedures afterward.
In one study, Charlotte Markey of Rutgers–Camden, along with Patrick Markey of Villanova University, surveyed 170 teens (average age 19.77, 59% female) about their impression of reality television shows featuring cosmetic surgery and their interest in cosmetic surgery.
The results found that those who had favorable impressions of cosmetic surgery reality television shows were more likely to have an interest in pursuing surgery.
A second study had 189 participants (average age 19.84, 51% female) split into two groups; one group watched a program with a cosmetic surgery makeover, while the other group watched one with a neutral message.
As the researchers suspected, women were more likely to want cosmetic surgery than men, and those who viewed the cosmetic surgery show were more inclined to consider the procedure for themselves than those who watched the neutral message program.
Dr. Charlotte Markey noted that many people equate changing their appearance with being happier, even though she says there is no evidence to prove this theory.
ABC’s Extreme Makeover, though canceled in 2007, has influenced the development of several other similarly themed shows, including Fox’s The Swan, MTV’s I Want a Famous Face, E’s Dr. 90210 and Oxygen’s Addicted to Beauty.
“There is a cultural context to never be satisfied with our physical selves. It’s the rare person who is either completely oblivious or has developed such a strong counter message to not be affected,” said Markey.
The two studies were done to “examine the influence of media messages about cosmetic surgery on youths’ interest in altering their own physical appearance,” according to the abstract, which is available at ScienceDirect.