Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Introduction

The Background to the Study
Self- esteem is a feeling or self-perception of one’s own value or worthiness. For someone who has higher self-esteem tend to be more confident on themselves and perceived themselves as ‘good enough’. Meanwhile, a person with lower self-esteem see themselves more inferior than others. Both high and low self-esteem give impact to one’s mentally or physically (Mruk, 2006). Undeniably, the term of ‘attractiveness’ is subjective and unambiguous to identify as different country or race interprets it differently. However, there are many studies of attractiveness shown that it is a crucial factor that linked to people’s characteristic as well as their self-esteem.

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Recently, many of the scientists and psychology researchers were concerned about both self-esteem and self-perceived attractiveness topic which had conducted some researches on how self-esteem can affect individual earning (Drago,2011), and impact of self-esteem on academic achievement of medical science student at Guilan University of medical science (Jirdehi, Asgari, Tabari ; Leyli, 2018) as well as the difference between both genders in comparing their self-perception of attractiveness and overall life satisfaction (Talbot, 2012), plus the relationship between self-perceived attractiveness, romantic desirability and self-esteem (Bale ; Archer, 2013 ).

The Significance of the Study
It is important to do research on the study of the relationship between self-esteem and self-perceived attractiveness among university college students because it is a major factor in predicting their self-esteem that will bring effect to their academic performance (Pagaduan-Apostol, 2017).

The Purpose of the Study and a Statement of the Problem
Through this research, the awareness of relationship between self-esteem and physical attractiveness can be highlighted in college because students who have low esteem always lead to negative effect such as depression (Jayanthi,; Rajkumar, 2014).

Research Questions
Thus, the uncertainty of “What is the relationship between self-perceived physical attractiveness and self-esteem among university college students?” and “How does the rating of self-perceived physical attractiveness predicts self-esteem level for female and male students in university college?” are questioned throughout this research
Definitions of Terms or Operational Definitions
Self-esteem and self-perceived attractiveness are defined as self-evaluation of worthiness and valuing one’s physical beauty respectively.

Chapter 2: Literature Review
The term of attractiveness refers to the aesthetically pleasing either physical attributes or traits of an individual where it typically includes both face and body. According to Fink & Penton-Voak (2002), attractiveness is often defined as sexual attractiveness. In fact, the most attractive to others are the ones that reflect the best indicators of health and fitness as their physical features (Nicholson, 2016). As these physical features can be changed with our health over time, however, it is actually under our control to manage the most attractive features of ourselves. Physical attractiveness like proper grooming and physical fitness are more significantly important than having perfect chest or the most symmetrical face and nose. Besides that, clothing plays a role in physical attraction for those who do not have high perfect physique (Benz, Anderson, & Miller, 2005). By wearing a suitable outfit on an occasion can flatter and portray ones to be more attractive.

An adaptive mechanism is designed to track relational status and eligibility is known as self-esteem (Kirkpatrick & Ellis, 2004). Different attributes are required to establish and maintain them when there are various types of relationship differ from its characteristics. Hence, the diversity of social relationships that has evolved into monitoring and maintaining are reflected by structure of self-esteem. The relationship between specific self-perceptions and self-esteem has mediated by people’s social roles (Anthony, Holmes, ; Wood, 2007). The associations between self-esteem and self-perceived communal qualities like supportiveness and helpfulness will be stronger when people are interdependent social roles than those with more independent social roles.

The correlation between self-perceived physical attractiveness and self-esteem can be explained by using sociometer theory. Sociometer theory proposes that self-esteem is psychological barometer to which the perception of people on their relational value and whether or not they are socially accepted by others (Leary ; Baumeister, 2000). Relational value is the quality of relationships with others, such as our friends, families and communities (Leary, 2012). In short, it is the extent to which people feel valued by those around them.When people do things to increase their self-esteem, they intend to shield and magnify their relational value, hence resulting in the increase likelihood of social acceptance. Physical attractiveness is associated with positive friendship, professional and familial relationship ( HYPERLINK “” h Langlois et al., 2000). As high level of self-perceived attractiveness can boost the level of one’s relational value, they will feel worthy of being cared and loved, they are more likely to experience a state of high psychological well-being. Thus, they are able to build a healthy and positive relationship with others which resulted in an increase of self-esteem.

Based on equity model, this theory proposes that people prefer partner who has similar level of physical attractiveness to them, whereas it only shows low or moderate effect on same-sex friendship (Rumsey & Harcourt, 2005). People who perceive themselves as highly attractive will more likely to find partner with similarly high level of attractiveness. As a result, they tend to have high satisfaction of the relationship which can further increase their level of self-esteem. A study found that women who are given negative feedback on their physical appearance have lower self-esteem than controls (Pass, Lindenberg, & Park, 2010). Hence, it suggests that self-perceived physical attractiveness do have an instant effect and causally affected self-esteem. Other theories of self-esteem state that self-perceived physical attractiveness is causally affected by self-worth where self-esteem would change the perception on one’s attractiveness (Brown, Dutton, ; Cook, 2001)
The correlation between self-perceived physical attractiveness and self-esteem for female appears to be significantly stronger than male (Bale ; Archer, 2013). One of the possible explanations for the sex difference is due to the cultural values that emphasize physical attractiveness of female over male. Based on sociometer perspective, the relationship between self-perceived physical attractiveness and self-esteem is stronger in female than in male due to the emphasis of physical attractiveness on mate value of women (Bale ; Archer, 2013). However, male self-esteem is strongly correlated to socioeconomic status, dominance and other variables as the male mate value is more related to their ability on accessing the resources (Swami et al., 2007). Therefore, the aspects of bodily attractiveness tend to more essential in determining the level of self-esteem for men.

The correlates of attractiveness are personality, depression and anxiety. In personality, a study was conducted to explore the relationship between physical attractiveness, personality, and peer pressure (Noor ; Evans, 2003). It was found that physically attractive individuals were more capable in resisting peer pressure than unattractive individuals. As for depression, self-perceived attractiveness has been linked to depression while lower self-esteem where they perceived themselves as unattractive individuals have higher rates of depression and poor life-satisfaction. According to Noles, Cash, and Winstead (1985), they found that individuals who had lower level of satisfaction towards his or her body and assumed themselves as less physically attractive, led to higher level of depression. Whereas for anxiety, appearance anxiety is known as when an individual feels anxious regarding of one’s appearance in variety settings (Stella, 1998). In conclusion, the personality of an individual will affect one’s emotions which is whether to be depressive and then it may lead to behavioural which is either to remain calm or anxious.

Chapter 3: Methodology
Material and method
A convenient number of 200 students (100 males and females respectively) from the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College will be participating in this research study. The age range would be around 18 to 25 years old. The participants will also be divided into few groups according to their relationship status filled in for demographics information as single, in relationship, married, divorced or widowed. The participants with relationship status as single will be excluded from the study of physical attractiveness of their partners.
Participants will be asked to complete a demographic form, a measure which will access self- perceived attractiveness and also a measure of self-esteem level. The Estimating Physical Attractiveness Scale will be used as a measurement of self-perceived attractiveness (Swami, 2007). While, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale will be used to obtain the level of self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965).

The demographics form (refer Appendix A) is used to determine participants’ gender, age, faculty, major, CGPA and relationship status.

The Estimating Physical Attractiveness Scale (refer Appendix C) is an instrument used to assess how an individual perceives their attractiveness. The purpose of this instrument is to allow participants to rate their overall physical attractiveness, facial attractiveness, body size or weight, body figure or shape, and height (Swami et. al, 2007). Besides that, this instrument provides respondents with a guide to rate others’ attractiveness as well.

The Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (refer Appendix D) is an instrument used to assess how they feel about themselves. This instrument asks participants to indicate their feelings towards self-descriptive statements.

All participants will be signing an informed consent form (refer Appendix B). Participants will be informed that the purpose of the study is to explore their level of self-esteem and that they will also be rating their attractiveness as well as their partner’s attractiveness on a specific scale. All the participants will be administered with two questionnaires in a classroom in Tunku Abdul Rahman University College. Firstly. the participants will be completing the demographic form then followed by the physical attractiveness scale (refer to Appendix C) and Rosenberg self-esteem scale (refer to Appendix D). After the data have been collected, the questionnaires will be analysed.

Data Analysis
In order to examine whether the relationship between self-perceived physical attractiveness and self-esteem among university college students, we will be conducting a descriptive analysis (Bale ; Archer, 2013). Using the Estimating Physical Attractiveness Scale which provide a rating from 55 to 145 for self-perceived physical attractiveness of participants and Rosenberg’s Self Esteem Scale which indicate how strongly participants agree or disagree on the statements list which is in qualitative form in dealing with their general feelings about themselves into quantitative form such as number and percentage of participants, average, mode or most common of each ratings, and some measure of central tendency like the standard deviation can be obtained. Then, we will also use exploratory analysis to start looking for the relationship among these two variables.

Next, in order to study whether the rating of self-perceived physical attractiveness can predict the level of self-esteem for female and male students in university college, we will be categorised the quantitative data obtained from previous descriptive analysis for the first research question while grouping it into two different groups based on the students’ gender. Only then, we will be using exploratory analysis to start looking for the correlations among these two variables based on the gender (McDonnell, 2017).