People get plastic surgery for a host of reasons—confidence building, reconstruction, internalizing our culture’s unrealistic views of beauty and aging. But an added benefit for some women who've had work done to their faces? Others may perceive them as being more likable.
A small new study from Georgetown University Medical Center has found that certain cosmetic procedures alter how other assess personality. Researchers asked 170 people to rate images of 30 different Caucasian women who had undergone plastic surgery, based on attractiveness, femininity, and personality traits including extroversion, likability, social skills, aggressiveness, and trustworthiness. The participants were shown either a pre-op or post-op photo (never both), and were not informed that the women were about to undergo or had already undergone plastic surgery.
Researchers found that participants tended to rate the women in the post-surgery photos as displaying higher levels of social skills, likability, attractiveness, and femininity. They also tended to rate them as being more trustworthy, although this finding wasn't statistically significant.
"Having a facelift and lower eye lift were the two procedures that appeared to garner more favorable reviews after surgery, with the lower eye lift carrying a little more weight," Michael J. Reilly, a co-author and assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, said in a statement.
Of course, this finding isn't especially shocking. Previous studies have reflected humans' tendency to assume that beautiful people possess more positive social attributes such as intelligence, talent, and yes, likability. We see this stereotype play out in plenty of situations, such as dating (duh) and even job hiring.
It's possible the perception taps into a more primal evolutionary behavior, according to Reilly, in which we associate personality traits with the softness or aggressiveness of someone’s neutral expression. (The term "resting bitch face" speaks for itself here.) It also seems possible that the procedures simply made the women look younger, which biased the participants in other ways.
Reilly notes that the study is small and included only white female participants—much more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.
But either way, judging folks’ personality from their face alone is frankly a little shallow. Besides, it may take a bit more work, but it's far more fun to judge someone based on their Netflix recommended shows.