Background: The present study investigates psychological factors expected to predict the motivation to undergo cosmetic surgery. It is hypothesized that body image, self-esteem, teasing history, acceptance of cosmetic surgery in the individual's environment, and self-monitoring relate to motivation to have cosmetic surgery.
Methods: Questionnaire data were obtained from 907 participants who responded to a survey distributed to a representative sample of Norwegian women aged 22 to 55 years. A second sample of 195 female prospective cosmetic surgery patients was recruited from a plastic surgery clinic. Measures of the hypothesized predictor variables were obtained from both samples. Surgery motivation was operationalized in two different ways. First, the women in the first sample were asked to indicate whether they wished to undergo cosmetic surgery, such that women who wished to have surgery could be compared with those who did not. Second, prospective patients were compared with women from the first sample who indicated that they did not wish to have cosmetic surgery.
Results: Analyses revealed all predictor variables but self-esteem to be related to either the wish or the decision to undergo surgery, or to both. Social acceptance of cosmetic surgery and body image were the strongest predictors of cosmetic surgery motivation.
Conclusions: The study gives new insights into psychological factors predicting cosmetic surgery motivation. Furthermore, the influence of social factors on cosmetic surgery motivation is emphasized, and it is suggested that these factors be included in future research designs.