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The Effect of the Experimental Presentation of Thin Media Images on Body Satisfaction in Young Females

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Keynote of Dr. Emanuel Mian, PhD, presented at the 16th Kanizsa Lecture (2008)- University Of Trieste.

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The Effect of the Experimental Presentation of Thin Media Images on Body Satisfaction in Young Females

  1. 1. The Effect of the Experimental Presentation of Thin Media Images on Body Satisfaction in Young Females Emanuel Mian & Walter GerbinoDepartment of PsychologyGaetano Kanizsa
  2. 2. Thin Media Pictures and Body Satisfaction Emanuel Mian & Walter GerbinoDepartment of PsychologyGaetano Kanizsa
  3. 3. Body image is the term that has come to be widely accepted as the internal Body image is the term that has come to be widely accepted as the internalrepresentation of one’s outer appearance. representation of one’s outer appearance.Essentially a persons body image is how they perceive their exterior look Essentially a persons body image is how they perceive their exterior lookBody dissatisfaction refers to negative subjective evaluations of one’s physical body and isassociated with depression in women, in detail, those who diet frequently are 50% morelikely to be depressed (Kenardy et al, 2001).Stice and Shaw (2002) suggest that perceived pressure to be thin increase the risk forsubsequent body dissatisfaction, which in turn increases the risk of eating pathology andthat this relation is mediated by increases in dieting and negative affect.
  4. 4. Body dissatisfaction is widespread among young girls in western societies, possibly as a consequence of sociocultural standards of female beauty that emphasize unattainable thinness for most women. (Tiggeman & Slater, 2004 ; Thompson et al., 1999) Research has shown that women’s ideal body images Research has shown that women’s ideal body images are influenced by exposure to thin media pictures with different intensity are influenced by exposure to thin media pictures with different intensity(Tiggemann, 2003) and that in particular female teenagers often resort to (Tiggemann, 2003) and that in particular female teenagers often resort to pathogenic dieting methods as a quick fix to their body dissatisfaction pathogenic dieting methods as a quick fix to their body dissatisfaction (Thomsen, Weber, and Brown,2002). (Thomsen, Weber, and Brown,2002).
  5. 5. “…the “desire for thinness” is so prevalent among women without eating disturbances that it has been identified as a “normative discontent…” (Rodin, Silberstein and Striegel-Moore,1985)
  6. 6. “Average” or a “Model” to achieve?1800 1930 1950 1960 1970-80 1990
  7. 7. Average women see hundreds of advertisements on a daily basis By the time they are 18 years old, have received over 100.000 to 300.000 commercial messages through the mediaMartin and Gentry (1997) found that female pre-adolescent and adolescent’s self- Martin and Gentry (1997) found that female pre-adolescent and adolescent’s self-perceptions and self-esteem can be negatively affected by advertising especially when perceptions and self-esteem can be negatively affected by advertising especially whenthat advertising causes the female to self-evaluate herself. that advertising causes the female to self-evaluate herself. Only 12% of commercials have direct statements about beauty but many more implicitly emphasize the importance of it particularly those that target young girls Source: Journal of Consumer Research Saatchi & Saatchi - Mediacontrol
  8. 8. Previous studies that explored this phenomenon compared groups of healthy females “exposed vs non-exposed” to thin media pictures exclusively by means of Silhouettes Ratings Questionnaires Questionnaires Yamamiyaa, Cash, Melnyk, Posavacc and Posavac, 2005 Tiggemann and McGill, 2004 Polivy and Herman, 2004 Franzoi & Shileds, 1984
  9. 9. To avoid previous research drawbacks (Groesz, Levine and Murnen, 2001) we have developed and used an instrument before and after exposing participants to pictures of the thin ideal in a within subjects design
  10. 10. How it works Image CaptureParticipants stood in front of a white curtain ( 190 cm high X 200 cm cross ) with the arms at 90 degrees from the body at standard distance of 2,5 meters from the camera
  11. 11. How it works
  12. 12. •Actual Size Actual Size How do you think you are? How do you think you are? •Ideal Size Ideal Size How do you want to look like? How do you want to look like?Participants were instructed to push a button to enlarge and another to shrink their under or overweight simulated picture in order to answer the questions that were written on the left bottom of the screen
  13. 13. Measure-75% -75% 0% 0% +75% +75%
  14. 14. Participants Females Females (18 to 24 years old) (18 to 24 years old) N= 53 N= 53 Eating Attitudes Test-26 Eating Attitudes Test-26 Body Attitude Test Body Attitude Test Eating Disorders Inventory 2 Eating Disorders Inventory 2 Body Mass Index Body Mass Index OVER 18.5 OVER 18.5 UNDER 24.9 UNDER 24.9
  15. 15. ParticipantsFive participants were excluded because of high scores in the aforementioned questionnaires or low/high BMI values.
  16. 16. Method
  17. 17. Thin Girl Prime Neutral Object PrimePhysique Salient Pictures Physique Non Salient Pictures PS PNS 3 PS and 3 PNS pictures appeared randomly on the screen during re-test session 3 PS and 3 PNS pictures appeared randomly on the screen during re-test session before Actual and Ideal size task with the BIR for a total of 12 presentations before Actual and Ideal size task with the BIR for a total of 12 presentations Pictures were maintained on the screen for 8 seconds Pictures were maintained on the screen for 8 seconds (this time is the mean of women’s average sight on a magazine’s page) (this time is the mean of women’s average sight on a magazine’s page)
  18. 18. BaselineretestThe order in which PS or PNS pictures were used to make estimations was determined randomly (using aa random The order in which PS or PNS pictures were used to make estimations was determined randomly (using randomnumber table) for the first participant and counterbalanced thereafter number table) for the first participant and counterbalanced thereafter
  19. 19. ProcedureBaseline Retest
  20. 20. The data were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA test to compare the means of different trials
  21. 21. Comparison of Actual Size vs Ideal Size after “thin girl prime” (example taking into account +8% and -8%)
  22. 22. ResultsBaseline percentages demonstrate that participants were accurate inadjusting their distorted images in the Actual Size Task but wanted athinner body in the Ideal Size Task (“normative discontent” as saidbefore).After viewing a picture portraying a thin girl (Thin girl prime) participantsperceived a heavier body and wanted a thinner body to a greater extentcompared to Baseline and Neutral Object Prime.Compared to baseline, tasks of the “neutral object prime” showed higherpercentages both in Actual and Ideal Size Tasks.This could be explained because procedure of the re-test session mixedrandomly “thin girl” and “neutral object” pictures.Thin girl prime could maintain and influence tasks done in the short timeeven if a neutral object image is presented? We are further investigating…
  23. 23. ConclusionsBody image was signicantly more negative after viewing thin mediaimages than after viewing images of inanimate objects.According to Thompson & Stice (2001) our results pointed out that massmedia standard of slender beauty may lead young females to feel badlyabout their weight and shape.Consistent with the findings of previous research (Posavac et al. ,1998)but with a stronger effect in our experiment, women viewing the “thinideal” felt significantly more dissatisfied about their bodies afterward.Results suggest that images portraying thin models elicit a desire forthinness greater than images with neutral objects.This can be detrimental for women’s body images and could beprodromic for an eating disorder in some of them.
  24. 24. Thanks to all of you for the attention Emanuel Mian mian@psico.units.it Walter Gerbino gerbino@units.it
  25. 25. ReferencesFranzoi, S.L. & Shields, S.A. (1984). The Body-Esteem Scale: Multidimensional structure and sex differences in a college population. Journal of Personality Assessment, 48, 173-178.Grabe, S., Ward, L. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2008). The role of the media in body image concerns among women: a meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies. Psychol Bull., 134 (3)(May), 460-476.Groesz, L.M., Levine, M.P., Murnen ,S.K. (2002) The Effect of Experimental Presentation of Thin Media Images on Body Satisfaction: A Meta-Analytic Review International Journal of Eating Disorders- Volume 31 (1), 1-16Martin, M. C., & Gentry, J. W., (1997). Stuck in the model trap: the effects of beautiful models in ads on female pre-adolescents and adolescents. Journal of Advertising, 26, 2.Mian, E., Gerbino, W.(2008) A structured morphing technique for the assessment of body image Proceedings of the Sense of Body- An Interdisciplinary Summer School on Body Representation Bologna , Italy- June 2008Posavac, H.D., Posavac, S.S., & Posavac, E.J. (1998). Exposure to media images of female attractiveness and concern with body weight among young women. Sex Roles, 38, 187-201Rodin, J., Silberstein, L. R., & Striegel-Moore, R. H. (1985). Women and weight: A normative discontent. per presented at the Nebraska symposium on motivation, Lincoln: University of NebraskaStephens, D.L., Hill, R.P., & Hanson, C. (1994). The beauty myth and female consumers: The controversial role of advertising. The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 28, 137 -153.Thompson, J.K., & Stice, E. (2001). Thin-ideal internalization: Mounting evidence for a new risk factor for body image disturbance and eating pathology. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 181-183.Tiggemann, M., Slater, A., (2004). Thin ideals in music television: a source of social comparison and body dissatisfaction. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 35, 48–58.Yamamiya Y, Cash TF, Melnyk SE, Posavac HD, & SS., P. (2005). Womens exposure to thin-and-beautiful media images: body image effects of media-ideal internalization and impact-reduction interventions. Body Image, 2 (1)(Mar), 74-80.

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