Thinking About Germs Makes People Concerned About How They Look

It’s the time of year when people spend more time cooped up indoors, and lots of germs get passed around. A new study published in the journal Psychological Science finds just thinking about getting an infection increases people’s concerns about their own physical appearance. Psychological scientist Joshua Ackerman of the University of Michigan is the study’s lead author, and explains, “Our findings show that when people are worried about pathogens, they also evaluate their own physical appearance, which motivates them to pursue behaviors and products intended to improve appearance, including exercise, makeup, and plastic surgery.” Participants who were chronic germ worriers were more likely to get extra concerned about their physical appearance after hearing scenarios involving germs. Ackerman adds that this suggests people may be less negative about their appearance if their concerns about infectious diseases can be eliminated. (EurekAlert!