Body Dissatisfaction, The Thin Ideal, and Social Judgments

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Rodger Narloch, Psychology


The thin ideal is transmitted through the mass media's portrayal of female models that embody unattainable and unrealistic thinness providing women with an extreme standard for comparison. The current study sought to examine the combined effect of social judgments and the media's presentation of the thin ideal on body dissatisfaction and self-esteem in women. Before participating in the experiment, 110 participants from a liberal arts college completed a base-line measure of body dissatisfaction. During the experiment, participants overheard a judgmental conversation about attractiveness in which the experimenter manipulated the gender discussed in the judgmental conversation. Participants were then presented with idealized media images and surveyed on their body dissatisfaction and state self-esteem. The purpose of this was to examine the circumstances under which women protect themselves against societal expectations of attractiveness and the negative influences of the media. This study found that, regardless of the participants' base-line measure of body dissatisfaction or the gender discussed in the judgmental conversation, post-experimental scores of body dissatisfaction and state self-esteem did not differ.