||Objective: To determine the role of social comparison processes in women's responses to thin-idealized female beauty images.
Design: 3 × 3 (image type: body part, full body, product; instructional set: control, appearance focus, social comparison) between-subjects factorial design, random assignment. Session 1: subjects completed trait questionnaire. Session 2 (1-wk. later): subjects completed pre-measures of state mood, body dissatisfaction. Each subject viewed magazine images, completed post-measures. Instructional set manipulated by Consumer Response Questionnaire during viewing.
Subjects and Setting: 126 female undergraduates (18-28 years old, mean age = 20.6 years) attending Flinders University, South Australia. Subjects read 3.6 women's magazines in past month, on average. Each image set was 15 magazine ads from 36 Australian women's magazines.
Outcome Measure(s): Mood and body dissatisfaction (measured before, after viewing). State weight anxiety, amount of appearance comparison engaged in (measured after viewing). Trait measures of internalization, appearance-schematicity, and tendency for social comparison measured (moderating variables).
Results: Social comparison instructions were significantly associated with higher negative moods [image type×instruction interaction: F(4, 115) = 3.87, p<.01]. Full body and body part images produced more negative mood than product images [image type effect: F(2, 77) = 4.92, p<.01]. Body part images led to significantly more body dissatisfaction than product images [image type effect: F(2, 115) = 3.16, p<.05]. Actual comparison engaged in partially mediated the effect of image type on negative mood and body dissatisfaction.
Conclusion: Exposure to body part or full body images led to increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction, yet the effects of image type on mood and body dissatisfaction were mediated by the amount of social comparison engaged in. © Center on Media and Child Health