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Makeup therapy in a down economy

During tough economic times, women engage in the "lipstick effect," stocking up on cosmetics and beauty products — a simple and familiar way to address their personal economic situation.


The "lipstick effect" has occurred during every major recession in U.S. history and multiple explanations for it have been proposed. Now research from the University of Notre Dame and Bocconi University, for the first time reveals that women's motivations in these economically challenging times have moved beyond what was previously thought to be a woman's "instinctive need" for a male provider.

Women are using makeup to get ahead professionally, according to "Strategically Stunning: The Professional Motivations Behind the Lipstick Effect," published in Psychological Science and written by McKenzie Rees, postdoctoral teaching and research associate in Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, and Ekaterina Netchaeva, assistant professor, Department of Management and Technology at Bocconi University.

Lipstick sales reportedly soared following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2008 when the rest of the economy suffered record sales declines, cosmetics giant L'Oreal's figures revealed sales growth of 5.3 percent. Rees believes women were not simply hoping to lure a financially stable partner, as past research had indicated.


"We show that women use makeup to ensure that they achieve their professional ambitions as well as their romantic ambitions.

"Previous work on "the lipstick effect" argued women only use beauty products to attract a romantic partner. Our work suggests women use makeup as a tool in professional settings, and may even prefer it over a romantic partner for monetary resources needed to survive economically challenging times."

McKenzie Rees PhD, Research Associate, Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business


In studies conducted for their paper, the two researchers surveyed employed U.S. women to understand the relationship between economic difficulty, professional and romantic goals, and makeup preferences. The results demonstrate women are interested in obtaining monetary resources through a combination of a romantic partner and favorable impressions in the workplace — goals they attempt to achieve through makeup use.

The researchers then asked both employed and unemployed women to assess their concern for the economy — or read articles reflecting the economy was headed toward a recession. Participants were then asked to choose between products that promised to make them more appealing to men — or products that promised to improve their professional image.


Results showed that women concerned about a declining economy were more likely to prefer products improving their professional image. Even if such products explicitly stated that they would not also help their appeal to men.


"Our research demonstrates that women who are concerned about their economic situation no longer look to a man to alleviate their concern," Rees explains. "Rather, they are willing, and even prefer to take the matter into their own hands and improve their economic situation on their own. Women have recognized that enhancing their appearance can help them in this pursuit, and thus seem to favor improving their professional appearance over their romantic attractiveness. This suggests women are more motivated to obtain resources through a job than through a partner."

Rees' research focuses on roles in organizations. She evaluates contexts, obligations and responsibilities, individuals feel and exhibit in high-profile roles which may influence ethical behavior and decision making in competitive situations.

Abstract
The phenomenon of increased desire for, and use of, appearance-enhancing items during times of economic recession has been termed the lipstick effect The motivation underlying this effect has been attributed to women's desires to enhance their attractiveness to financially stable partners (Hill, Rodeheffer, Griskevicius, Durante, & White, 2012). In the present research, we found evidence for our proposal that during times of economic recession, the heightened economic concern experienced by women translates into increased desire to use appearance-enhancing items to both attract romantic partners and create a favorable impression of themselves in the workplace, as both strategies can help women become secure financially. We also found that women with high economic concern elect to improve their professional appearance more frequently than their romantic attractiveness, which suggests that their motivation to obtain resources through a job dominates their motivation to obtain resources through a partner.


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Jul 29, 2016   Fetal Timeline   Maternal Timeline   News   News Archive   



The "lipstick effect" has occurred during every major recession in U.S. history
Image Credit: Public Domain


 


 

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