Original document was submitted as an honors thesis requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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The recent increase of use of the dating websites and applications has called to question whether the use of these dating websites and applications causes emerging adults to place greater emphasis on their grooming habits, and if this emphasis is driven by a desire for sexual partners. The purpose of this study was to see whether an emerging adult’s daily grooming habits are influenced or affected by self-perceptions, and if there was a relationship between emerging adults’ sexual activity and grooming habits. The distribution of a self-report survey to 267 college-aged students regarding the use of grooming products and ratings of positive and negative self-perceptions allowed this study to contribute to the growing area of research regarding appearance and self-perceptions.

The results of this study help to better understand the role that grooming habits play in the construction of self-perceptions. This study displayed the gender differences that exist in within the views of grooming products and resulting self-perceptions including the effects of the Objectification Theory on both males and females in our society. This study also used various theories such as the Spotlight Effect, the Life History Theory, the Lipstick Effect, and developmental theories about emerging adults.

The responses obtained in this study also contribute to further analysis of developmental theories regarding emerging adults and their behaviors. The results of this study reveal that grooming products do not evoke significantly different self-perceptions in emerging adults who actively seek sexual partners compared to those who do not. Therefore, while emerging adults may more hormonally drawn to certain sexual behaviors, these behaviors do not necessarily have an effect on an emerging adult’s grooming habits and self-perceptions.

However, this study does suggest that the grooming habits of the emerging adults who use dating websites and applications have a greater effect on this group’s self-perceptions than emerging adults who do not use dating websites or applications. As certain dating applications like Tinder and OkCupid gain new users everyday, this study aimed to reveal the growing influence of dating websites and applications on an increasing number of emerging adult’s everyday lives. The consistent difference among the mean scores does call for further research regarding the topic. Since the usage of dating applications and websites continues to grow, this research will stand as one of the first studies that sought to understand how the usage of dating websites and applications may play a role in forming self-perceptions. The overwhelming receptiveness of this survey among emerging adults shows that there is interest in this topic both among researchers and emerging adults.

This study demonstrated how certain societal pressures may have effects on the grooming habits and self-perceptions of emerging adults, and also how the use of dating websites and applications may serve as an additional platform where emerging adults’ bodies and appearances are put for critique. The results of this study call for further research as the mean scores of this study reveal that there is certainly a relationship between the use of grooming products and the development of self-perceptions. Additionally, with an increasing number of users on dating websites and applications, this study could be replicated time and time again to further measure the effects that dating websites and applications have on the lives of emerging adults.