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

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Bell, Beth Teresa (2012)
  • Subject: 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).
  • References (6)

    Negative Body Image and Restrained Eating Behaviour ………. 17 Socio-cultural Theory: The Role of Media Models ............. 18 Adolescence ............. 21 Vulnerability Factors ............. 23 Media Type ............. 23 Existing Research .............. 24 Issues of Causality .............. 25 How do Certain Media Types Exert a More Potent Influence? The Role of Wishful Identification ............. 26 Summary ............. 28 Body Perfect Internalisation ............. 30 The Mass Media, Body Image and Restrained Eating Behaviour: The Role of Body Perfect Internalisation ............. 31 Measurement Issues ............. 32 Summary ............. 35 Materialism ............. 36 Materialism and Wellbeing ............. 37 Socio-cultural Influences on Materialism: The Role of the Material Ideal ............. 38

    Hypothesised Role of Material Ideal and Materialism within the Mass Media Body Image and Restrained Eating Behaviour Relationship .............. 39 Summary ............. 41 References .............. 43 Chapter Two. Overview of Empirical Programme .............. 58 Chapter 3. The Link between Exposure to Body Perfect Media and Adolescents' Body Dissatisfaction: A Meta-analysis ............. 59 Follow-up Questionnaire ............. 187 Baseline measures ............. 187 Body Perfect Internalisation ............. 187 Restrained Eating Behaviour ............. 187 Procedure & Ethics ............. 188 ............. 187

    Descriptive Statistics ............. 188 Table 1 .............. 189 Table 2 .............. 189 Effects on Post-Exposure Arousal ............. 189 Effects on Post-Exposure Body Image - Body Perfect Internalisation as a Moderator ............. 189

    Table 3 ............. 191 Body Dissatisfaction ............. 191 Weight-Related Self-Discrepancies ............. 191 Figure 1 ............. 192 Figure 2 ............. 193 Appearance-Related Self-Discrepancies ............. 193 Figure 3 ............. 194 Exposure Effects on Immediate Wishful Identification ............. 195 Figure 4 .............. 196 Identification as a Mediator of Effects on Post-Exposure Body Self-Discrepancies ............. 197

    Table 4 ............. 197 ............ 198

    The Role of Materialism and the Material Ideal within the Media, Body Image and Restrained Eating Behaviour Relationship Ashikali, E. & Dittmar, H. (2011). The effect of priming materialism on women's responses to thin-deal media. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi: 10.1111/j.2044- 8309.2011.02020.x

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