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The role of self-improvement and self-evaluation motives in social comparisons with idealised female bodies in the media
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 17:48 authored by Emma Halliwell, Helga Dittmar
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.
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- Psychology Publications
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