There are large differences in the frequency and types of cosmetic surgeries performed in different countries around the world. Although availability, access, cost, and affordability each play a role in the observed differences, we tested the hypothesis that sociocultural and moral values significantly influence the level of acceptance of cosmetic surgery. In 2015, we collected the views of 206 college students in an international university in Japan to compare the views of Japanese students (n = 114) towards cosmetic surgery with those of South Korean (n = 37) and Chinese (n = 55) students. There was an overall “negative” attitude towards cosmetic surgery among Japanese (63%) and Chinese students (74%), compared with a “positive” attitude among Korean students (72%), that was statistically significant (chi-square value of 19.477). A qualitative analysis of the students’ comments suggests that the negative view of Japanese students towards cosmetic surgery was associated with the values of respect to parents, naturalness, concern for safety and health (rather than appearance), modesty, and preserving one’s individuality. On the other hand, Korean students mentioned the values of beauty, autonomy, utility (job opportunities, social relations), popularity, and perceived safety as reasons for their positive attitude towards cosmetic surgery. The negative view of Chinese students was mainly associated with the value of respect to parents and preserving the inherited characteristics as well as avoiding the perceived risk of surgical procedures. Interestingly, students’ gender had no statistically significant influence on their positive/negative attitude and/or acceptance of cosmetic surgery (P value >0.05). The finding of significant differences in sociocultural and moral values for and against cosmetic surgery suggests that cultural differences may explain the varying attitudes and thus some of the differing rates of cosmetic surgery between the countries.
Asian Bioethics Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 6, 2017