The role of self-improvement and self-evaluation motives in social comparisons with idealised female bodies in the media

Halliwell, Emma and Dittmar, Helga (2005) The role of self-improvement and self-evaluation motives in social comparisons with idealised female bodies in the media. Body Image, 2 (3). pp. 249-261. ISSN 1740-1445

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Abstract

This study investigates the effect of social comparisons with media models on women's body image based on either self-evaluation or self-improvement motives. Ninety-eight women, for whom appearance was a relevant comparison dimension, viewed advertisements that did, or did not, feature idealised models, after being prompted to engage in self-evaluation or self-improvement comparisons. The results indicate that, when focusing on self-evaluation, comparisons with thin models are associated with higher body-focused anxiety than viewing no model advertisements. In contrast, when focusing on self-improvement, comparisons with thin models are not associated with higher body-focused anxiety than viewing no models. Furthermore, women's general tendency to engage in social comparisons moderated the effects of self-evaluative comparisons with models, so that women who did not habitually engage in social comparisons were most strongly affected. It is suggested that motive for social comparison may explain previous inconsistencies in the experimental exposure literature and warrants more careful attention in future research.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Co-author
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Helga Dittmar
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:31
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2017 12:57
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13091
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