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A Study of the Effects of Ideal-Type Media Exposure on Body Dissatisfaction

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A Study of the Effects of Ideal-Type Media Exposure on Body Dissatisfaction

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A Study of the Effects of

Ideal-type Media Exposure on

Body Dissatisfaction

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Abstract

Exposure to media containing idealized body images increases one's level of body dissatisfaction and lowers self-esteem. The effects of ideal-type media exposure on body dissatisfaction was examined in a sample of ninety (90) college students ages 18 to 25 years old, using an experimental research design. The Experimental group was shown media portraying ideal body types, while the Control group viewed neutral media images. The results showed that the Experimental group had lowered levels of body satisfaction when compared to the Control group by scores attained on the Sociocultural Attitude Toward Appearance Questionnaire. The findings suggest that ideal-type media increases body dissatisfaction and lowers self-esteem. Media that contains average-sized models lowers one's pressure to fit the societal form of beauty and can increase body satisfaction.

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Statement of the Problem

A study of the effects, if any, of ideal-type media exposure on body dissatisfaction for subjects between the ages of 18 to 25 years.

Review of Related Literature

Carney and Louw (2006) examined the relationship between eating disorder behavior and the exposure to ideal-type media in a sample of 221 (176 women and 45 men) undergraduate psychology students, ages ranging from 18 to 32 years, in South Africa. The study measured both qualitative (interview) and quantitative (Eating Attitude Test-26, or EAT-26) methods and had an operational definition of "mass media exposure". The EAT-26 consists of 26 self-report items measuring primarily the symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa, such as body dissatisfaction. The researchers then interviewed the students about what celebrity they thought had an "ideal" body type and then about how much leisure time they spent interacting with this type of media. The results of the study showed that media exposure is not necessarily the sole cause of disordered eating behaviors, but that they interact with other factors to increase these behaviors.

In the study of Bardone-Cone and Cass (2006), the consequences of media exposure, particularly pro-anorexia websites, was measured to the affects that they have on body dissatisfaction and eating disorder behaviors. Twenty-four (24) young women, ages 18 to 20, which were enrolled in an introductory psychology course at the University of Missouri, were selected as participants in this experiment. They were randomly assigned to view one of three websites created by the investigators: a mock

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pro-anorexia website, a website about female fashion using models of average size, or a neutral website about interior decorating. The subjects then completed a set of questionnaires assessing their thoughts and feelings pre- and post-website viewing. The results held that the women who viewed the pro-anorexia website had a decrease in self-esteem, a negative view of how they thought they appeared to others, and an increase in negative effects and perception about being overweight.

Baird and Grieve (2006) studied the effects of male model advertisement media on eating disordered behaviors in young men. Participants were 173 college males, ranging in age from 18 to 22, at Western Kentucky University. They were administered the Body Assessment and the Magazine Advertisement Questionnaire. After completing the questionnaires, the subjects were given one of two sets of magazine advertisements that consisted of either clothing or cologne products or these products featuring a male model in the ad. Results showed that those who viewed the advertisement with the male model showed an increase in body dissatisfaction, while those who did not had no change in body dissatisfaction.

In 2005, Dittmar, Halliwell, and Howe examined the impact of advertisements using ideal-type models on body image for women with a history of eating disorders. Seventy-six (76) women (who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder) were randomly selected through the Eating Disorders Association of the United Kingdom to participate in this study. Their average age was 32 and all but one was Caucasian. The experimental conditions were represented by two advertisements, each for perfume, with one advert using an ultra-thin, ideal-type female model and the other advert using an

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average-sized model. The subjects were each then asked to complete the Physical

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