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Standards Of Attractiveness And Social Identity


Research psychologists Carlos Navarrete (Harvard University) and Cleopatra Abdou (UCLA) are actively studying African American men and women, their culture and how their self-identity is affected by their hair and other physical characteristics.

During the process of their extensive research, these researchers have posed some compelling questions about African Americans and their self-concepts and social identities. In their past research, they have found that the way that women identifying as African American or Black wear their hair can reflect their self-esteem and their views about their own racial or ethnic group.

Navarrete and Abdou believe that "particular physical features and feelings about self-attractiveness might ultimately result in how African Americans define themselves as individuals". They now seek to expand their research to include men and women of all ethnic backgrounds to get a better sense of how these processes work similarly and/ or differently among different groups of people.

They have designed a new online survey with these goals in mind in order to scientifically test their initial findings on a broader sample of people.

Among the scientific and social questions that they wish to answer are:

  1. How integral are hair and beauty to the self-esteem and social identities of women of color?

  2. How do people of all ethnic backgrounds learn to define and value themselves through their appearance?

  3. How do people learn to estimate their relative levels of attractiveness?

  4. How are overall well-being and social behavior affected by these self-concepts that we come to develop over time?

As Navarrete pointed out, "these questions are probably relevant in the lives of both African American males and females". However, he senses that "there seems to be a much wider range of what is considered attractive for African American males in our society".

African American females, on the other hand, as Navarrete commented, "may feel more pressure to look a specific way in order to be considered attractive by the masses". Abdou adds that "ironically, few real people in the real world actually resemble these standards of attractiveness that the vast majority of us feel so much pressure to attain".

Given this paradoxical reality, Navarrete and Abdou want to gain a better understanding of how standards of attractiveness impact the everyday lives of all people of color, and even White Americans.

If you would like to assist these researchers in finding clearer answers to these important social questions, please help them by participating in their on-line survey regarding this very important topic. The knowledge that they stand to gain from each of you, as survey participants, has the potential to greatly empower men and women of all ethnicities in our society.

The survey is free, 100% anonymous, fun, and only takes about 15 minutes to complete. Please help by participating in their online survey. Just a few minutes out of your day will assist with the completion of this very important study.

If you have further questions about this research study, please feel free to contact the researchers at:

Carlos David Navarrete, Ph.D. Department of Psychology WJH 962 – 33 Kirkland St Cambridge, MA 02138, USA cdn at Profile

Cleopatra Abdou, M.A. Department of Psychology University of California 1285 Franz Hall – Box 951563 Los Angeles, CA. 90095 USA cabdou at Profile

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- Revised Publication Date: 05/22/10

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