Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Anne Wilson

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor

Second Advisor

Erin Strahan

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor


All individuals seek to develop and maintain social relationships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). The extent to which people feel loved and accepted within their relationships is called perceived relational value (Leary, 2001). I argue that because sociocultural norms equate physical appearance and social acceptance for women (Thompson, 1999), women’s perceived relational value is inordinately linked to their self-appraisals of physical appearance. I also suggest that significant relational consequences can result from this association. In Study 1,1 demonstrated that self-appraisals of physical attractiveness and Body Mass Index predicted perceived relational value among women but not men. In Study 2,1 found that appearance self-appraisals have a causal impact on perceived relational value among women. I also demonstrated that one consequence of lowered perceived relational value is decreased romantic relationship standards. Study 3 replicated the impact of appearance self-appraisals on relationship standards. Moreover, perceived relational value within a romantic relationship mediated the relation between self-appraisals and relationship standards. Study 4 examined a second consequence of lower perceived relational value: the desire for social contact. A model delineating the relation between appearance self-appraisals, perceived relational value and desire for social contact, such that appearance self-appraisals were linked to lower perceived relational value, which, in turn was linked to a decreased desire for social contact, was tested and the model was found to be a good fit. Overall, these findings indicate that in addition to the behavioural and personal consequences of sociocultural norms for appearance, there are also relational consequences.

Convocation Year


Included in

Psychology Commons