Published: 4 November 2021 at 23:00
New study finds social physique concerns can affect dating for young UK adults
New research has discovered that young adults in the UK who are more focused on and concerned about their appearance are more likely to suffer from anxiety when dating.
Led by Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the study is the largest ever undertaken into body image and dating anxiety, which is defined as distress associated with interactions with potential romantic partners.
The research, published in the journal Body Image, found that people who are more appearance oriented are more likely to experience social physique anxiety, which is a concern about physical appearance in social situations.
This in turn is associated with two forms of dating anxiety – fear of negative evaluations and social distress – and these results were consistent amongst both women and men.
The research involved 501 heterosexual young adults from the UK, with an average age of 21, who completed questionnaires to measure aspects of body image, social physique anxiety, and dating anxiety.
Participants were asked to rate their agreement with statements such as “Before going out in public, I always notice how I look”, “When it comes to displaying my physique/figure to others, I am a shy person”, and “I am afraid that the person I am dating will find fault with me”.
Because interpersonal relationships play such an important role in the social and emotional development of young adults, the researchers believe that targeted interventions could be used to help reduce anxiety in dating contexts. They also warn that dating anxiety can lead to various mental health and behavioural problems.
Lead author Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: