Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

J. Kevin Thompson

Keywords

advertisements, air-brushing, body image, magazines, models, social comparison

Abstract

The relationship between exposure to media images of ultra-thin models and body dissatisfaction has been documented in numerous correlational and experimental studies. Given the association between body dissatisfaction and negative outcomes such as eating disorders, prevention and intervention programs have sought to minimize the effects of the media on body dissatisfaction by, for example, providing education on the air-brushing techniques used to enhance the thinness of models depicted in advertisements. More recent efforts in Britain and France include the proposal of legislation that would require advertisements featuring hyper-thin models to include a disclaimer. To determine whether the inclusion of a disclaimer versus a warning message would decrease the effects of exposure to such magazine advertisements on body dissatisfaction and intent to diet, female undergraduate students (N = 283) were randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) disclaimer, (2) warning, (3) model control, (4) car control. Those in the experimental groups were exposed to advertisements edited to include either a disclaimer (i.e., "Retouched photograph aimed at changing a person's physical appearance.") or warning (i.e., "Warning: Trying to look as thin as this model may be dangerous to your health."); those in the model control group were exposed to the original, untouched advertisements, and those in the car control group viewed car advertisements. Results revealed a significant, but unexpected, effect of group on post-exposure body dissatisfaction. The car control group reported significantly lower post-exposure body dissatisfaction than the disclaimer, warning, and model control groups. The effects of exposure to magazine advertisements on intent to diet did not differ by group. Potential moderating roles of trait body dissatisfaction, physical appearance comparison, and internalization of the thin-ideal are examined. Implications, limitations, and future research ideas are discussed.

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