P&G study finds make-up affects how women are perceived by others

By Pooja Kondhia

- Last updated on GMT

A new study conducted by P&G has found that make-up significantly alters how women are perceived by others at first glance as well as over time.

According to Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor at Harvard University, the study was conducted to find out what kind of impact make-up had on perceptions beyond simply attractiveness by exploring a range of looks over different lengths of time.

For the first time, we have found that applying makeup has an effect beyond increasing attractiveness – it impacts first impressions and overall judgments of perceived likeability, trustworthiness, and competence​” she elaborated.

Likewise, according to Sarah Vickery principal scientist, research and development P&G, the data’s implications also suggest make-up can give women the power to determine which aspects of their personality they want to communicate to others.

This study examined the impact of relevant makeup looks that women in the western world commonly wear, showing that makeup is a real-life tool in their arsenal to effectively control the way they want to be—and are—perceived​,” said Vickery.

This fundamental research helps us better understand the motivations and desired beauty outcomes of our consumers and how to translate that knowledge into innovations that have a proven impact on perception​”, stated Shekhar Mitra, senior vice president, P&G global beauty and grooming research and development.

The two studies conducted used images of women with three looks labeled natural, professional and glamorous and one image without make-up, in two different time frames.

The first study found when images were viewed at a glance of 250 milliseconds women with all three looks were more attractive, competent, likeable and trustworthy in comparison to the women without make-up.

The second study found when images were viewed over a longer time that women with natural and professional looks were more attractive.

However whilst the women with the glamorous look were seen as equally likeable, they were seen as less trustworthy yet significantly more attractive and competent than those wearing no make-up.

Similarly, the findings of this study touch on another recent survey conducted by P&G which found that appearance matters in employment as well-groomed men are more likely to land and keep their jobs in Illinois.

According to the survey, 79 percent of hiring managers in Illinois rate physical appearance of male job candidates as one of the most important factors in making a good first impression.

Related topics: Market Trends

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