Although they can often be scientifically measured, the results of cosmetic treatments and products are still highly subjective. What works for one woman may disappoint another. However, strangely enough, we’re more likely to continue using a treatment we feel isn’t working over one we believe works.
Studying women from 27 to 65 years old, UK researchers identified a phenomenon called “feared self”-the idea of what we’d look like as old and wrinkled. In an effort to evade this image, 73% of women keep trying treatments-anything from creams and supplements to Botox and surgery-that they perceive aren’t working. But when it seems a treatment is working, anxiety towards the “feared self” lessens, making women less likely to continue using it.
The researchers attribute this ironic approach to a positive image of our appearance and a consequent positive state of mind, which makes success a greater motivating factor than failure.
“When someone is thinking negatively about themselves, and they try and fail to improve their situation, they will be motivated to try again,” researcher Dr. Rana Sobh explained. “How women imagine themselves in the future has a strong effect on how motivated they are to keep using a product or service such as creams or other treatments for aging. When people dwell on a negative future, they are motivated by fear, yet as they move away from this feared state-say a wrinkled skin-they become less motivated to carry on using a product or service.”
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