Home Society & Culture Women Apply More Makeup for Romance and Reduce It in Risky Situations, Reveals New Study

Women Apply More Makeup for Romance and Reduce It in Risky Situations, Reveals New Study

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Makeup is a ubiquitous tool in women’s self-presentation arsenal, often used to enhance attractiveness and convey social signals. But the extent and manner of its application vary widely depending on the situational context. A new study, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, delves into the nuances of how women alter their makeup application in different settings.

The research comprises two distinct studies. The first focuses on comparing everyday situations with party contexts. It investigates whether women’s intentions regarding makeup intensity and diligence differ between these contexts. The second study extends this exploration by adding two more contexts – mating and threat – to see how these situations further influence makeup application intentions.

Aleksandra Szymków, PhD of the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland, one of the researchers in the study, emphasised the motivation behind this investigation. She noted: “The key motivation was to investigate whether women’s makeup intentions are strategic. If, indeed, they serve adaptive functions, such as attracting a mate or avoiding harm, then we should expect women to employ appearance-enhancing strategies differently in various contexts.”

A key finding of the study is the significant variation in makeup application across different contexts. In party situations, women tend to apply more intense and diligent makeup compared to everyday settings. This suggests that social events, especially those involving potential romantic encounters, motivate women to enhance their appearance more noticeably.

Szymków further elaborated on the findings: “We have shown that varying contexts can elicit distinct levels of motivation for women to make a favourable impression, which then significantly influences their intended application of makeup.” This aligns with the functional perspective of appearance-modifying behaviour, indicating that makeup can be used strategically depending on the situational context.

Interestingly, the study finds the highest diligence in makeup application in contexts where women expect the presence of an attractive man. This underscores the role of potential romantic interests in influencing women’s self-presentation strategies. On the other hand, in threatening contexts, such as the presence of an undesirable suitor, women show a tendency to reduce their makeup application, indicating a strategic reduction in self-enhancement to avoid unwanted attention.

“The particular interest to us was the threatening context, which had not been explored in previous studies,” Szymków added. “We hypothesised that women would be less inclined to enhance their appearance in such conditions.”

The research highlights that women’s motivation to make an impression mediates the relationship between the context and the intensity of makeup application. This finding is crucial in understanding that the desire to create a favourable impression is a key driver behind the varying degrees of makeup application in different situations.

Another aspect the study examines is the potential moderating role of sociosexual orientation and appearance orientation on makeup application intentions. Contrary to expectations, these factors do not significantly influence how women adjust their makeup in various contexts. This suggests that situational factors might play a more crucial role than individual personality traits or orientations in dictating makeup application behaviour.

Reflecting on future plans, Szymków explained: “One important limitation of our studies is the declarative nature of measures of intended makeup intensity and diligence. Future studies should be conducted in laboratory settings to evaluate the actual makeup application by women under specific contextual manipulations.”

This study offers valuable insights into the strategic use of makeup as a tool for self-presentation. It underscores the importance of context in shaping beauty-related behaviours and choices. The findings open avenues for further research into the nuanced ways in which women use makeup to navigate social interactions and relationships.

Future studies could explore how these findings translate across different cultures and age groups. Additionally, examining the impact of social media and digital representation on makeup application intentions could provide a contemporary understanding of this dynamic.

Makeup is more than just a beauty product; it’s a form of communication. The study illustrates that women’s choices in makeup application are not merely a matter of personal preference or style. Rather, they are strategic decisions influenced by the social context, intended impressions, and potential interpersonal dynamics. Understanding these underlying motivations can provide deeper insights into the complex interplay between self-presentation, social perception, and personal identity.

Women vary their makeup application based on the context, applying more intensively in social settings, especially in the presence of potential romantic interests, and less so in threatening situations. This behaviour is driven by the desire to make an impression, highlighting makeup’s role as a strategic tool in social interactions.

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