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Exploring the role of social comparison in the process of making judgments about others and judgment about self

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Ghada Hamad S Alkharboush

Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine the influence of social comparison on social judgments of dental malalignment in a sample of adult females. Predictors of dentally induced social judgments (DISJ) were examined in this dissertation following the exposure to an image of an adult female with severe crowding. Materials & Methods: Randomised cross over trial: In a repeated measures design, N=218 female participants, of which N=128 were from the clinical group (orthodontic and orthognathic) (mean age 26.1 years) and N=90 non-clinical group (mean age 31.4 years) were assessed for mood, self-esteem, ethnic identity, and personality. In addition, they rated their satisfaction with their facial appearance after viewing their first set of images (Phase 1) of either stereotypically beautiful images of female faces or houses (visit 1). After four to six weeks (Phase 2) participants returned to view the second set of images (visit 2). Cross-sectional study: at phase 2, N=218 female adults were also exposed to an image of a female with crowding, during their second visit. At the same appointment, they rated her on four psychological constructs: social competence (SC), intellectual ability (IA), psychological adjustment (PA), and attractiveness (A). Results: Randomised cross over trial: The comparison of social judgments between high comparers (High SocComp) and low comparers (Low SocComp) was not statistically significant; (SC (t (215) =0.958, p=0.339), IA (t (215) =0.059, p=0.953) PA (t (215) =0.04, p=0.968), A (t (215) =1.26, (p=0.209). However, dentally induced social judgments (DISJ) were more statistically significant in the clinical sample than the non-clinical sample SC (t (216) =0.784, p=0.434), IA (t (216) =2.15, p=0.033) PA (t (216) = -0.003, p=0.997) A (t (216) =1.58, p=0.116). Cross-sectional study There was a relationship between perceived attractiveness (A), and psychological adjustment (PA), and intellectual ability (IA) and social competence (SC), (ΔR²= 0.106, 0.11, 0.046 respectively; P<0.05) in a sample of females. People who scored high on neuroticism (β=-0.141) gave lower ratings of attractiveness than individuals who scored high on agreeableness (β=0.2). Conclusion: Randomised cross over trial: Social comparison has little impact on DISJ. However, there are differences in DISJs between individuals who seek treatment for their malocclusion and the non-clinical population; the reason for this is unclear but does not appear to be the result of societal beauty standards and instead suggests individual ranking of important ‘beauty areas’ may play a role. Cross-sectional study: Perceived attractiveness was a universal and strong predictor of DISJ, with inconsistent effects found for mood and personality.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date2018

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