Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Emer O' Byrne 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I have recently completed the BSc (Hons) in Applied Psychology, the practice path in IADT. I have a keen interest in educational and social psychology and hope to become a youth counsellor someday. My postgraduate goal is to work within areas of troubled youth to build my experience and then progress to a masters in counselling. My main areas of interest are mental health, developmental psychology, youth studies and addiction therapy.

Project Description

Cosmetics have been used for over a million years since one of the first humans wore clay and minerals to defend themselves against insects and the elements. However, in today's society, cosmetics are now applied as a tool to change and alter our appearance. While this is a fairly common practice for many people, it is difficult to know the effect that wearing cosmetics has on our psychology, specifically our self-esteem. This, in combination with personality, has been under-researched and begs the question of what effects cosmetic use and personality traits have on our self-esteem.

Project Objectives

The present study aimed to investigate the effects of cosmetic use and personality traits on self-esteem. A qualitative survey was distributed online and in person to any individual who identified as female. Participants answered questionnaires on their cosmetic usage, their personality traits and their self-esteem. Data from 155 participants was analyzed to investigate if level of cosmetic usage, extraversion, and neuroticism influence self-esteem.

Project Outcomes

Results from the present study indicated a significant difference for cosmetic use, extraversion and neuroticism on self-esteem. Participants in the low cosmetic use group had the highest level of self-esteem compared to the medium and high groups. Conflicting past research on cosmetic use made it difficult to predict the results of the present research. Past research both supported and conflicted with the present study's findings. Regarding extraversion, the high extraversion group had the highest level of self-esteem which was aligned with previous research. Neuroticism produced surprising results, with the high neuroticism group having the highest level of self-esteem. Previous research did not support this which reported high neurotic individuals had low self-esteem. There was no significant interaction between any of the independent variables. A strength of the present study was it provided a unique insight into a previously under-researched area. The results will aid in better understanding the effects of cosmetic use and personality traits on self-esteem. However, a limitation of the study was that the majority of the female participants were in the age category of 18-24 year olds which is a limited subset of the overall population of cosmetic wearers. Further research might consider collecting more responses from participants within each age category. The present findings may be relevant for young girls in school. In many schools heavy cosmetic use is prohibited, educational institutions might consider that those who wear cosmetics potentially have lower self-esteem than their peers and might then invest more time in building self-esteem levels of their students instead of simply banning cosmetics.

Thesis Title

“An Investigation into the Effects of Cosmetic Use and Personality Traits on Self-Esteem".