People’s appearance and their money dominate how satisfied they feel with life, a new survey reveals.
Among women, appearance was the third strongest predictor of how satisfied they were with life.
The top two places were taken by money and satisfaction with their partner.
For men their appearance came second in predicting how satisfied they were with life — it was second only to how happy they were with their financial situation.
Dr David Frederick, the study’s first author, said:
“Our study shows that men’s and women’s feelings about their weight and appearance play a major role in how satisfied they are with their lives overall.”
The survey asked over 12,000 US adults about their personality, relationships, self-esteem and more.
Dr Frederick said:
“Few men (24 percent) and women (20 percent) felt very or extremely satisfied with their weight, and only half felt somewhat to extremely satisfied.
These findings are consistent with the emphasis placed on the importance of being slender for women and for appearing athletic and/or lean for men.
It would seem therefore, that we still have a long way to go before we achieve the goal of Americans being truly happy with their bodies.”
Other key findings from the study included:
- People who watched more hours of television per week were less satisfied with their appearance and weight.
- People who were more satisfied with their physical appearance and weight reported more secure attachment styles, versus fearful and dismissive attachment styles.
- People who were more satisfied with their appearance reported greater self-esteem, greater satisfaction with life, sex life, friends, romantic partners, family, and financial situation.
- Body Mass Index (BMI) was strongly related to dissatisfaction with appearance and weight.
Dr Frederick said:
“…body dissatisfaction and anxious attachment styles can lead to an out of control spiral and fuel each other.
People who are less confident in their appearance become more fearful that their partner will leave, which further fuels their worries about their appearance.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Body Image (Frederick et al., 2016).