Understanding adolescent girls’ vulnerability to the impact of the mass media on body image and restrained eating behaviour: the role of media type, body perfect internalisation and materialism
Bell, Beth Teresa
BF0637.S4 | TX0341 | BF0724.3.B55
There is a strong body of psychological research implicating the mass media in the aetiology of adolescent girls’ negative body image and eating behaviours. The present thesis aims to extend this research by examining potential factors – namely, media type, body perfect internalisation and materialism – that make girls more vulnerable to the negative impact of the mass media.\ud \ud An initial meta-analysis (Chapter 3) collated the findings of existing research examining the impact of ‘body perfect’ media on adolescents’ body image; examining gender, age and media type as moderators of this effect. Chapter 4 examined the relative roles of both media type and media model identification (a key dimension of body perfect internalisation), within the mass media and body image relationship. Using both survey and experimental methods (N = 199), it was found that adolescent girls’ habitual tendency to identify with media models, was a more potent vulnerability factor within the mass media and body image relationship, than media type. Due to the limitations associated with existing measures of body perfect internalisation, a new measure of body perfect internalisation was developed in Chapter 5 (N =373), which was subsequently utilised in the final experiments of the thesis. Chapter 6 demonstrated that acute music video exposure had a more potent negative impact on girls’ body image than still media images (N = 142); an effect that was fully mediated by wishful character identification and also moderated by body perfect internalisation. Chapter 7 consists of two studies that demonstrate the important role which materialism plays within the mass media, body image and eating behaviour relationship. In Study 1, structural equation modelling identified a direct pathway between materialism and restrained eating that was independent of body image (N = 199). This finding was further replicated in an exposure experiment, which demonstrated that brief exposure to materialistic media causes acute diet-like behaviours in adolescent girls (N = 180).
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