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DOES ETHNICITY MODERATE MEDIA EFFECTS OF THE IDEAL PHYSIQUE ON
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE INT EXERCISE AND SPORT SCIENCES
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This thesis is dedicated to my parents who have provided me unconditional love, support
and encouragement in pursuing my academic endeavors.
I thank my committee, Dr. Heather Hausenblas, Dr. Chris Janelle, and Dr. Pete
Giacobbi for their patience, flexibility, knowledge and advice during this process. Dr.
Hausenblas, my committee chair, was especially important to the past three years at the
University of Florida; she has given me the guidance and structure within which to grow
as a researcher and a writer, while also allowing me the freedom to grow as a scholar. I
also deeply appreciate the support and encouragement she has given me for my future
I would not have made it through without the help of many friends. I thank Beth
Fallon and Sarah Reed, for answering my endless "stupid" questions, bestowing their
wisdom, keeping me out of trouble, and keeping me focused on the real goal. I thank
Amy Hagan, Jessica Doughty, Jesse Germain, Gretchen Ames, and Lesley Fox for their
friendship, support, and words of encouragement during my master' s program. I would
also like to acknowledge Anna Campbell whose help with data collection was essential in
finishing this thesis.
Last but not least, I thank my parents and family for instilling in me the value of
hard work and a good education. I thank them for always believing in me and for their
strong commitment to my education.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv
LI ST OF T ABLE S ............_ ..... ..__ .............. vii..
LIST OF FIGURES ............ _...... ._ ..............viii...
1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................. ...............7.......... .....
Body Im age Defined ................... .............. ................ .............
Prevalence and Correlates of Body-Image Disturbance ................. ............ .........8
Social Theoretical Explanations for Body-Image Disturbance ................ ..................9
Research Examining the Effects of Media Images of the Aesthetic Ideal on
M ood ................... .... ............ ...............14.......
Ethnicity and Body-Image Disturbance............... ..............2
Research Limitations .............. ...............23....
3 M ETHOD .............. ...............26....
Participants .............. ...............26....
M measures ................... ........... ...............26.......
Demographic Questionnaire ................. ...............26.................
Body Compoiton............... ... ........ ............2
Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised .............. ...............27....
Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale .............. ...............27....
Mood Visual Analog Scale............... ...............27.
Stimulus Slides .............. ...............28....
Procedure .............. ...............3 0....
Recruitm ent .............. ...............3 0....
Laboratory Conditions............... ..............3
Manipulation Check .............. ...............32....
Debriefing ................. ...............32.................
Data Analysis............... ...............33
4 RE SULT S .............. ...............3 5....
Sample Characteristics............... ............3
Preliminary Analyses ................. ...............38.................
Primary Analyses ................. ...............39.................
Secondary Analyses ................. ...............42.................
Manipulation Check ................. ...............46.................
5 DI SCUS SSION ................. ...............48................
A IRB APPROVAL................ ...............5
B CONSENT FORM............... ...............58..
C IDEAL BODY STEREOTYPING SCALE-REVISED .............. ....................6
D BODY-AREAS SATISFACTION SCALE .............. ...............61....
E MOOD VISUAL ANALOG SCALE .....__.....___ ..........._ ...........6
F CONTENT ANALY SI S ................. ...............63................
G MANIPULATION CHECK .............. ...............64....
H DEBRIEFING FORM .............. ...............65....
LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............66................
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............74....
LIST OF TABLES
4.1 Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for Descriptive Statistics of Women
Screened for Participation, Eligible for Participation, and Phoned for
Participation .............. ...............36....
4.2 Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for the Nonadherers and Adherers. ..............37
4.3 Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for the Nonparticipant and Participants. ......37
4.4 Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for the Caucasian and African-American
Experimental Groups............... ...............38.
4.5 Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for Skewness and Kurtosis of the 61
Adherers for the study variables............... ...............3
4.6 Means and Standard Deviations for the Model Slide Condition.............._.._.. ..........42.
4.7 Means and Standard Deviations for the Control Slide Condition. ...........................42
4.8 Hierarchical Regression Predicting Posttest Anxiety for all the Women. ...............43
4.9 Hierarchical Regression Predicting Posttest Depression for all the Women. ..........44
4.10 Hierarchical Regression Predicting Posttest Anger for all the Women. ..................45
4.11 Hierarchical Regression Predicting Posttest Body Dissatisfaction for all the
W om en. ............. ...............45.....
4.12 Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for Representativeness of Slides Viewed
for both Groups of Women (Caucasians and African-Americans). ................... ......46
4.13 Frequency Count for Debriefing Question ......... ................. ........._._ .....47
LIST OF FIGURES
4.1 Time by group by slide interaction for body dissatisfaction. ................. ...............42
4.2 Group by slide interaction for representativeness. ................. .................4
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Sciences
DOES ETHNICITY MODERATE MEDIA EFFECTS OF THE IDEAL PHYSIQUE ON
Chair: Heather Hausenblas
Major Department: Exercise and Sport Sciences
The media' s portrayal of the thin body as an ideal has been associated with weight
and shape dissatisfaction, increased mood disturbance, and disordered eating. Although
body image concerns are influenced by cultural and ethnic factors, most research on the
media and body image has focused on Caucasians. The purposes of this study were to a)
examine the mood effects for Caucasian women and African-American women to
exposure to physique slides (i.e., model slides and control slides of Caucasian women)
and, b) examine if BMI, internalization of the aesthetic ideal and body satisfaction predict
Thirty-one Caucasian women and thirty African-American women viewed both
sets of slides and completed a pre- and posttest mood measure. They also reported their
BMI, internalization, and body satisfaction scores. The results supported findings that for
Caucasian women, body-image dissatisfaction increased with acute exposure to ideal
physique images. Furthermore, Caucasian women compared themselves to the slides they
viewed, thus negatively affecting their posttest moods. Finally, while BMI and
internalization did not predict posttest mood scores, body satisfaction did predict posttest
anxiety scores. Different factors that may have explained the study findings were
discussed with regard to social comparison theory and areas for future research were
Body image is the internal representation of a person's outer appearance -one's
unique perception of his or her body (Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn,
1999). During the last three decades, body-image dissatisfaction has increased
dramatically for women (Feingold & Mazzella, 1998). For example, large-scale survey
studies reveal that appearance dissatisfaction has increased from 23% to 56% for women
from 1972 to 1996 (Berscheid, Walster, & Bohrnstedt, 1973; Garner, 1997). Although the
average woman has become larger, the average ideal body size has become thinner
(Garner, Garfinkle, Schwartz, & Thompson, 1980; Wiseman, Gray, Mosimann, &
Ahrens, 1992). This creates a discrepancy between the ideal and actual weight of women.
Although it may not be achievable for most women, the thin ideal has remained the
epitome of beauty for the past 30-40 years (Cash & Henry, 1995; Striegel-Moore,
Silberstien, & Rodin, 1986). Women's inability to achieve this aesthetic ideal has led to
increased body-image disturbance.
In addition to its high prevalence, body-image disturbance is a main precursor and
a diagnostic criterion of an eating disorder (American Psychiatric Association [APA],
1994). A conservative estimate shows that 5-10 million adolescent girls and women have
an eating disorder (Shisslak, Crago, & Estes, 1995). Because body-image disturbance is
prevalent (Cash & Henry, 1995; Garner, 1997), and it is associated with negative physical
and psychological consequences (APA), researchers have attempted to determine its
antecedents and consequences to establish effective prevention and treatment programs.
In particular, researchers have examined antecedents and moderators that may
place people at increased risk for body-image disturbance such as the demographic
characteristics of gender, age, body mass index (BMI), and ethnicity. They have found
that women are more at-risk for body-image disturbances than men (Demarest & Langer,
1996; Feingold & Mazzella, 1998; Garner, 1997). Younger women are more susceptible
to body-image disturbance than older women (APA, 1994; Garner). Women from higher
socioeconomic status are more likely to suffer from body-image disturbance than are
women from lower socioeconomic status (Allaz, Bernstein, Rouget, Archinard, &
Morabia, 1998). Finally, women who have a higher BMI also tend to have higher rates of
body-image disturbance than women with normal BMI (Hausenblas & Fallon, 2002;
Sands & Wardle, 2003).
With regard to ethnicity, Caucasian women are more at-risk than women from
other ethnic populations (Altabe, 1998; Cash & Henry, 1995; Miller, Gleaves, Hirsch,
Green, Snow, & Corbett, 2000). For example, when compared to Caucasian women,
African-American women generally have lower incidences of body-image disturbances
(Demarest & Allen, 2000), lower incidences of eating disorders (APA, 1994), more
accurate perceptions of what men find attractive (Demarest & Allen) and a more positive
body image (Altabe; Cash & Henry; Miller et al.). Hispanic-American women have
shown more weight-related body-image disturbance (Altabe) and higher levels of body
dissatisfaction (Cash & Henry) than African Americans. Researchers have suggested that
a strong African-American cultural identity played a protective role against some of the
attitudinal and behavioral risk factors of body-image disturbance and eating disorders
(Pumariega, Gustayson, Gustayson, & Motes, 1994.) More specifically, black women
hold more moderate ideals than thinner ideals of white women (Rucker & Cash, 1992).
Asian-American women, on the other hand, have shown the least amount of weight-
related body-image disturbance compared to African-American, Hispanic-American, and
Caucasian women (Atlabe). This may be due to Asian-American women placing the least
importance on physical appearance and having the lowest BMI (Altabe).
Many different theories and models have been advanced to explain the
development and maintenance of body-image disturbance. The sociocultural model is the
most empirically supported explanation for body-image disturbance (Thompson et al.,
1999). This model emphasises that the current aesthetic standard of a thin and toned
physique for women (i.e., low percent body fat and physically fit) is omnipresent and
virtually impossible for people to achieve without excessive dieting, exercise, or both
(Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Thompson et al.). Researchers examining the
sociocultural model have focused on the role that the mass media (e.g., print media,
television, television) play in body-image disturbance (Irving, 1990; Thompson et al.).
Correlational and laboratory-based experimental studies reveal that the media portrayal of
the thin body as an ideal is associated with weight and shape dissatisfaction and
disordered eating (Harrison, 2001; Irving, 2001; Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein,
1994; Thompson & Heinberg, 1999). For example, after viewing images of the ideal
female physique, women report decreased body satisfaction (Heinberg & Thompson,
1995; Irving, 1990; Posavac, Posavac, & Posavac, 1998; Posavac, Posavac, & Weigel,
2001), decreased self-esteem (Irving, 1990), increased body-size distortion (Hamilton &
Waller, 1993), and increased mood disturbance (Cattarin, Thompson, Thomas, &
Williams, 2000; Pinhas, Toner, Ali, Garfinkel, & Stuckless, 1999; Wegner, Hartman, &
Geist, 2000). The finding that exposure to physique images results in increased negative
mood is important because this is risk factors for eating pathologies (APA, 1994). In
addition to the previously mentioned demographic moderators of body-image
disturbance, exposure, awareness and internalization of the media pressures can increase
body-image disturbance. Although awareness and exposure to a thin-physique ideal are
not sufficient to explain body-image disturbance, they play a role in relationship between
the media and body-image disturbance (Cusumano & Thompson, 1997). Media exposure
can lead to awareness of an ideal, which can lead to internalization of the ideal, which in
turn may lead to body-image disturbance, especially if the ideal is not attained (Stice et
al., 1994; Thompson et al., 1999). In addition, high body dissatisfied women report more
negative effects of media exposure than low body dissatisfied women (Heinberg &
Thompson, 1995; Irving, 2001; Posavac et al., 1998; Stice, Spangler, & Agras, 2001).
Internalization is a variable of interest because individual variance in the level of
acceptance of ideals for thinness and attractiveness that is put forth by the media may
further explain differences in body-image disturbance (Thompson et al.).
Social norms of the "ideal body" are portrayed in the mass media by the models,
actors, and athletes. These mass media ideals have come to shape the standards for which
young women believe they must achieve in their struggle for "true" beauty. Most of the
models and celebrities used in advertising in the United States are Caucasians. Thus, the
ideal dictated by the American mass media is a homogenous, Caucasian, thin, physique
that is imposed on a heterogeneous audience. Few studies, however, have examined the
role that ethnicity plays as a moderator in body- image disturbance. Furthermore,
examining if the ethnicity of the models in the slides affects body-image dissatisfaction
may provide insight into the variation between body-image disturbances in different
ethnic populations and in media literacy by identifying at-risk groups and examining of
moderators. There are two main reasons why this study is of significance to the body
image and media literature. First, there are no studies on ethnicity and the media.
Researchers have found the media' s portrayal of the aesthetic ideal results in increased
mood disturbance for women (Cattarin et al., 2000); however, differences in the ethnicity
of the participants have not been examined. Researchers have also shown that Caucasian
women report the most body-image disturbance compared to other ethnic minorities
(Altabe, 1998, Garner, 1997); however, the role of the media has not been examined.
Second, no studies have identified the ethnicity of the models used as the ideal physique
and therefore have not examined whether the ethnicity of the models in the slides affects
body-image dissatisfaction. This thesis will study whether ethnicity (i.e., Caucasian vs.
African American) moderates the psychological effects for mood and body satisfaction of
women who have viewed slides of Caucasian models who portray an aesthetic ideal set
forth by the mass media. I have chosen to study African Americans as the ethnic minority
in my thesis because differences in body-image disturbance are largest between
Caucasians and African Americans.
The primary purpose of my thesis was to examine the pre- and posttest mood
effects for Caucasian women versus African-American women to exposure to physique
slides of the female ideal (i.e., mass media ideal slides of Caucasian women) and
physique slides of the "average American woman" (i.e., control slides of Caucasian
women). Based on findings from previous studies examining the relationship between
body image and ethnicity (Altabe, 1998; Cash & Henry, 1995; Miller et al., 2000), I
hypothesized that Caucasian women would report increased mood disturbance after
viewing slides of the mass media ideals than African-American women.
The secondary purpose of this thesis was to examine if BMI, internalization of the
aesthetic ideal, and body satisfaction, predict posttest mood scores. Previous findings
have shown that BMI is the most significant moderator ofbody-image disturbance
(Hausenblas & Fallon, 2002). Also, women with high body-dissatisfaction scores are
more susceptible to the negative effects of thin media images that activate their
internalized slender beauty ideals (Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002; Heinberg &
Thompson, 1995; Irving, 2000; Posavac et al., 1998; Shaw & Waller, 1995). Therefore, I
hypothesized that after controlling for pretest mood scores that BMI would be the
strongest predictor of posttest mood scores, followed by body satisfaction, and then
internalization (Botta, 2000; Groesz et al.; Thompson et al., 1999).
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
The purposes of this chapter are to (a) define body image, (b) describe the
prevalence and correlates of body-image disturbance, (c) discuss the social theoretical
explanations for body-image disturbance, (d) review the literature examining the
relationship between mood disturbance and media images of the aesthetic-ideal physique,
(e) examine the role of ethnicity in body-image disturbance, and finally (f) discuss the
research limitations of the body-image and media literature.
Body Image Defined
Thompson and colleagues (1999) defined body image as an umbrella term that
encompasses cognitions, behaviors, perceptions, affect, and subjective evaluations
(Thompson et al.). The cognitive dimension describes how body-image schema affects
the input, storage, and retrieval processing of information. For example, body-related
thoughts may dominate the cognitions of individuals with body-image disturbance
resulting in distorted processing of their physique. The behavioral aspect characterizes
those behaviors that a person engages in due to his or her appearance. For example, a
person may avoid situations or environments that evoke body-image scrutiny (e.g., public
beaches and pools), and engage in behaviors related to weight change or maintenance
(e.g., dieting and exercise). The perceptual component is the accuracy in estimating the
size of either body sites or the whole body (i.e., distortions of actual body size). For
example, comparisons between an individual's estimation of the size of her body parts
(i.e., chest, waist, hips, thighs) to the actual width of her body parts can be evaluated in a
body-site perceptual test. A larger difference between the actual and perceived
measurements indicates greater body-image disturbance. The affective aspect is a
person' s feelings and anxiety regarding his or her appearance. An example of this
dimension is social physique anxiety, which is caused by fear of negative social
evaluation of one' s body (Hart, Leary, & Rej eski, 1989). Finally, subjective evaluation is
a person's body evaluation and dissatisfaction of his or her physique. This dimension is
the most global, as it encompasses affective, cognitive, perceptual and behavioral
features. Examples of subj ective evaluation include the degree of dissatisfaction with the
size of body parts (e.g., hips, thighs) or the whole body (Thompson et al.). The phrase
body-image disturbance will be used in this thesis to refer to negative affect, behaviors,
perceptions, and cognitions of body image (Thompson et al.).
Prevalence and Correlates of Body-Image Disturbance
Body-image disturbance is prevalent (Cash & Henry, 1995; Garner, 1997), and it is
associated with negative physical and psychological consequences (APA, 1994).
Negative feelings and thoughts resulting from body-image disturbance can lead to either
positive or negative behaviors. In regard to positive behaviors, body-image disturbance
may result in positive lifestyle adjustments such as healthy eating and exercise behaviors.
In contrast, body-image disturbance may lead to negative behaviors such as disordered
eating (e.g., starvation, bingeing, and purging) and excessive exercise (Thompson et al.,
1999). According to Thompson (1992), a person exhibiting these extreme negative
behaviors may be evaluated as having a body-image disorder. Thompson defined body-
image disorder as a persistent report of dissatisfaction, concern, and distress that is
related to an aspect of physical appearance. Some degree of impairment in social
relations, social activities, or occupational functioning must also be involved.
Certain populations are more dissatisfied with their body than are others.
Demographic correlates of body-image disturbance include gender, age, weight,
socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. The incidence of body-image disturbance is higher
for women than men (APA, 1994). In regard to age, the prevalence of eating disorders,
which are preceded by body-image disturbance, is 125.1 per 100,000 per year for women
ages 15-19 and 82.7 per 100,000 per year for women ages 20-24 (van Hoeken, Lucas, &
Hoek, 1998). Higher incidences of body-image disturbance have also been found in
population groups that are more affluent versus those populations that are less affluent
(Allaz et al., 1998). Ethnicity also predicts body dissatisfaction (Botta, 2000). That is,
Caucasians have higher incidences of body-image disturbance and eating disorders than
do ethnic minorities (i.e., African Americans, Latino/a Americans, and Asians; Altabe,
1998; Cash & Henry, 1995; Demarest & Allen, 2000; Miller et al., 2000). The role of
ethnicity in body-image disturbance is elaborated on further in a subsequent section.
Also, there is a positive relationship between weight, percent body fat, BMI and body-
image disturbance (APA). Finally, experiences such as teasing, sexual harassment, and
sexual abuse are also associated with body-image disturbance in women (Thompson et
Social Theoretical Explanations for Body-Image Disturbance
Various theories and models propose explanations for the development and
maintenance of body-image disturbance (Fallon, 1990; Heinberg, 1996; Powell & Khan,
1995; Rodin, Silberstein, & Striegel-Moore, 1984). These can be categorized into
biological, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, feminist, and social explanations of body-
image disturbance. Theories examining social factors have received the strongest
empirical support (Fallon; Stormer & Thompson, 1996; Thompson et al., 1999), and they
suggest that society provides people, especially women, with beauty ideals that are
almost impossible to achieve without resorting to extreme dieting and exercise behavior.
The two most popular social theoretical explanations of body-image disturbance are the
sociocultural model and Social Comparison Theory (Morrison, 1999; Thompson et al.).
Each of these theories will be described below.
According to the sociocultural model, the mass media promote unrealistic standards
of attractiveness of an extremely thin and lean physique for women (Thompson et al.,
1999). These standards contribute to negative body-image perceptions. Society
overemphasizes the importance of thinness, which for many, is not an achievable
standard of beauty (Tiggeman & Pickering, 1996). A comprehensive review of the body-
size ideals in fashion over the past 100 years highlights an increasingly thinner ideal body
(Fallon, 1990). In 1947 the ideal body weight was 5' 4" (1.62 m) and 125 lbs (56.70 kg;
BMI of 21.5), but by 1975, the ideal height increased to 5' 8" (1.72 m) while the ideal
weight dropped to 118 lbs (53.52 kg; BMI of 17.9). Furthermore, while the ideal size has
become progressively thinner over the past few decades (Wiseman, et al., 1992), the
average American woman has become progressively larger (Garner et al., 1980;
Wiseman et al.). The prevalence of overweight (BMI greater than or equal to 25) and
obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30) has increased. Data from the National Center
for Health Statistics (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 2002) reported that 41.0% of
women aged 20-34 years were overweight during 1971-1974 and 16.7% were obese.
Currently 5 1.5% of women are overweight and 34.0% are obese.
Using the sociocultural model, researchers have demonstrated the changes in the
aesthetic ideal body over time, pervasiveness of a thin ideal, and the impact of the mass
media (Thompson et al., 1999). Although the sociocultural model has given researchers
testable explanations to work from, it has been criticized for failing to explain the
variance ofbody-image disorders (Thompson et al.). More specifically, most women are
exposed to daily societal messages about the ideal body; however, each woman
experiences different levels of body-image disturbance. Thus, another theoretical model
was needed to explain why some women report little body-image dissatisfaction while
others develop body-image disturbances and eating disorders.
The Social Comparison Theory, which developed from the sociocultural model, is
useful in attempting to explain the variance of body-image disturbance (Shaw & Waller,
1995). This theory suggests that people develop negative body-image perceptions
because they compare themselves to unrealistic targets, such as magazine and
advertisement models (Morrison, 1999; Thompson et al., 1999). Festinger (1954)
hypothesized that people who are insecure about specific attributes will try to explain
their feelings by comparing themselves to obj ective sources of information or against
direct physical standards.
This process of comparing oneself with others in the social environment was the
basis for the Social Comparison Theory. When making an upward comparison, a woman
would compare herself to a superior target (Kruglanski & Mayseless, 1990; Wood, 1989).
Upward comparisons serve as a mechanism for self-improvement, such that the
comparisons can serve as an inspiration or motivation. A woman who is trying to lose
weight (e.g., "I want to lose 10 pounds and tone my abdominal muscles.") may look to a
model or celebrity, who is closer to the ideal physique, as a source of inspiration (e.g., "I
want my body to look like Celebrity A's.") There is a risk, however, that feelings of
inferiority may arise and then threaten the individual's self-esteem. In fact, upward
comparisons are associated with increases in emotional distress and decreases in self-
esteem (Major, Testa, & Bylsma, 1991).
In contrast, a woman makes a downward comparison when comparing herself to a
target that is inferior on the attribute of interest. If a woman is insecure about her weight
(e.g., "I am too heavy"), she may feel more secure when comparing herself to a woman
who is heavier (e.g., "At least I am thinner than that woman"). Wood (1989) suggested
that downward comparisons could serve as mechanisms for increasing self-enhancement.
That is, when a person is in doubt about a certain physical attribute, he or she can make
downward comparisons with an inferior target to cope with feelings of doubt.
A recent large-scale survey published in Psychology Today provides evidence of
the Social Comparison Theory. Garner (1997) found that 27% of women "always or very
often compared themselves to models in magazines" and 28% of women "carefully study
the shapes of models." Furthermore, Marsh and Parker (1984) and Ruble (1983) showed
that even when an obj ective standard is available, individuals rely on their "relative
standing in their social environment to define themselves." That is, although medical
charts with healthy weights and heights may be available, an individual may still rely on
comparisons with thinner peers.
Not all women are at risk for body-image disturbance. Along with various
interpersonal factors that are involved in the development and maintenance of body-
image disturbance, researchers have examined the association of awareness and
internalization of the societal ideal. Agreement with the belief that, for example, women
with toned bodies are more attractive than women who are overweight, reflects an
individual's awareness that this ideal exists. Endorsing this belief and having a desire to
emulate the appearance of a toned physique reflects the internalization of this standard
(Heinberg, Thompson, & Stormer, 1995; Sands & Wardle, 2003).
Most people are aware of the thin ideal the media depict (Murray, Touyz, &
Beumont, 1996). For example, 50 anorectic and 30 bulimic patients displayed awareness
of the media' s pressure to attain a thin physique; however, just being aware did not cause
the development of an eating disorder (Murray et al.). As mentioned earlier, not all
people who are aware of the influences of mass media develop body-image disturbance
or eating disorders. Myers and Biocca (1992) proposed that women use the following
three reference points when constructing their body image the: (a) obj ective body, (b)
socially represented ideal portrayed by the media, or promoted by significant others, and
(c) internalized ideal body. They argued that the internalized ideal body has become
unrealistically thinner because of the media' s tendency to make the socially represented
ideal very thin.
The Social Comparison Theory accounts for internalization of societal ideal by
assuming that some individuals are more vulnerable than others to sociocultural
appearance pressures because of individual differences in comparisons towards others
(Thompson et al., 1999). That is, higher levels of internalization predicted body
dissatisfaction, which was associated with increased levels of eating disturbances (Stice,
et al., 1994). Internalization of societal body-image ideals accounts for significant levels
of body-image disturbance beyond that explained by awareness (Cattarin et al., 2000;
Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Sands & Wardle, 2003; Thompson et al.). Women with a
history of eating disorders or high body-dissatisfaction are more susceptible to the
negative effects of thin media images that activate their internalized slender beauty ideals
than women with no history of eating disorders or body disturbance (Groesz et al., 2002;
Heinberg & Thompson, 1995; Irving, 2001; Posavac et al., 1998; Shaw & Waller, 1995).
Awareness and internalization of the thin physique play an important role in the
development and maintenance in body-image disturbances (Sands & Wardle; Thompson
et al.). Further research is required to identify why some people are more likely to
internalize the thin ideal once aware of its existence.
Research Examining the Effects of Media Images of the Aesthetic Ideal on Mood
Mass media are forms of communication that generate messages designed for large,
heterogeneous, and anonymous audiences (Harris, 1994). The relationship between the
mass media and body-image disturbances is complex. Researchers agree, however, that
the media are influential in communicating society's standards of the perfect body
(Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Harrison & Cantor, 1997; Irving, 1990; Kalodner, 1997;
Lavin & Cash, 2001; Mazur, 1986; Tiggemann & Pickering, 1996; Waller et al., 1992).
Historically, figures of women in art were romanticized as unattainable. Today's media,
however, blur the boundary between fiction and reality. The audience now sees
airbrushed, computer-generated, and altered models representing real people (Freeman,
1986). The mass media appear to place emphasis on beauty and external appearances in
girls and women over more substantive issues, such as identity and independence. The
thinner standard set forth for women is evidenced in television characters, movie stars,
and women's magazines (Silverstein, Perdue, Peterson, & Kelly, 1986).
Correlational and laboratory experimental studies reveal that the media's portrayal
of the thin body as an ideal is associated with weight and shape dissatisfaction, increased
mood disturbance, and disordered eating (Harrison, 2001; Irving, 2001; Stice et al., 1994;
Thompson & Heinberg, 1999). The general finding that exposure to physique images
results in increased body-image disturbance (Irving, 1990; Posavac, et al., 1998) and
negative mood (Cattarin et al., 2000; Hausenblas Janelle, Gardner, & Focht, 2004) is
important because these are risk factors for eating pathologies (APA, 1994). Some of this
research will be presented in more detail below.
Over 50 studies have examined the effects of exposure to images of a thin physique
on people's body image and mood. In their recent meta-analysis, Groesz, Levine, and
Murnen (2002) reviewed 25 studies that evaluated the immediate effects of images of
slender, ideal beauty on female body image. Groesz and colleagues examined several
moderator variables including the following: types of control images (e.g., average versus
overweight models), age of participants (e.g., not yet in college versus college-age and
older), body-dissatisfaction history of the participant (e.g., participants with and without
significant body-image issues), and number of stimuli presented (e.g., less than 10 versus
10 or more). They reported that body satisfaction for women was significantly lower after
viewing thin media images compared to viewing media images of average size models,
overweight models, or controls. The effect was stronger for participants who were
younger than 19 years old, participants with high body disturbance, and participants who
viewed fewer than 10 stimuli.
Stice and Shaw (1994) assessed the effects of exposure to the thin-ideal on
women's affect, body satisfaction, and endorsement of the thin-ideal stereotype.
Undergraduate women (N = 157) viewed pictures from magazines containing "ultra-thin
models, average-sized models, or no models." The participants reported that exposure to
media images of thin women produced depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity, and
body dissatisfaction. Further, multiple regression analyses indicated that negative affect,
body dissatisfaction, and subscription to the thin-ideal predicted bulimic symptoms.
Using a different medium, Heinberg and Thompson (1995) investigated the effect
of viewing 10-minute television commercials containing appearance-related or
nonappearance-related images on women's body-image satisfaction and mood, and
whether body-image disturbance and internalization of the aesthetic ideal moderated
body-image satisfaction and mood (N = 138). They found that women with higher levels
of body-image disturbance and higher internalized ideals became more depressed,
angrier, and dissatisfied with their appearance following the appearance video, compared
to the women who viewed the nonappearance video. All of the women, regardless of
level of body-image disturbance, showed a decrease in appearance dissatisfaction after
viewing the nonappearance video.
In an investigation that extended this study, Cattarin and colleagues (2000) asked
college women (N = 180) to view 12-minute television commercials containing stimuli
emphasizing thinness and attractiveness or television commercials containing neutral,
nonappearance-related stimuli. This study manipulated social comparison by creating
three instructional conditions (neutral, comparison, or distraction). Participants in the
neutral condition were instructed to "watch [the video] as if you were watching television
in your own home." Participants in the comparison condition were instructed that, "your
task when you watch the videotape is to compare yourself to the people in the video--
notice what they look like, what they're wearing, things like that." Participants in the
distraction condition were instructed that "your task when you watch the videotape is to
pay close attention to the products being advertised in the commercials--notice what they
are, what they look like, how they're packaged, things like that." They found that media-
presented images of women have the ability to either positively or negatively affect mood
and satisfaction with appearance within a nonclinical female sample. Participants in the
comparison condition who watched the experimental video reported more anger, anxiety,
and depression than participants in the distraction or neutral conditions (Cattarin et al.).
In another study of mood, Hausenblas and colleagues (2004) examined affective
responses of media exposure to nonphysique-control, self-physique, and model-physique
slides for university women (N = 30) who were either high or low on drive for thinness
(DT). The participants' affective responses were assessed 4 times in the 4 hours
following the slide-viewing task. They found that the high DT group, compared to the
low DT group, reported higher negative affect 1 and 2 hours after viewing the model-
slides. The positive affect, when collapsed across group and condition, was also lowest at
the 1 hour post-assessment. Thus, not only can viewing thin-model slides lead to a
negative mood and higher body dissatisfaction for certain individuals, the affective
responses may last for up to two hours after exposure.
In contrast, not all researchers have found that media exposure to the aesthetic ideal
results in increased mood disturbance. For example, Cusumano and Thompson (1997)
found that exposure to thin-media images, however, did not predict body-image
disturbance in college-aged women. They surveyed women (N = 175) about the type of
magazines that they read, along with the time spent reading each magazine, and they
hypothesized that exposure to smaller body sizes would be most associated with
awareness, internalization, body dissatisfaction, eating disturbance, and low self-esteem.
Using regression analyses, they found that awareness, not exposure, was a significant
positive correlate of body-image disturbance. Furthermore, internalization of societal
norms of appearance accounted for significant amounts of variance in body-image
disturbance after controlling for the role of awareness. For example, for body-shape
ratings, internalization accounted for 12.9% additional variance for the EDI-body
dissatisfaction measure, 18% additional variance for the EDI-drive for thinness measure,
and 9.1% additional variance for self-esteem.
Another area of media and body-image studies that has revealed inconsistent
Endings is whether women with different levels of body-image disturbance experience
different effects from exposure to a thin ideal. For example, Posavac and colleagues
(1998) assessed weight concern of 138 female undergraduate students in three
experiments. The participants were divided into high and low body-dissatisfied groups.
Experiment 1 examined exposure to media images vs. neutral images. Experiment 2
examined exposure to media images vs. images of realistic feminine attractiveness.
Experiment 3 examined exposure to image neutral slides (i.e., automobiles) vs. media
images. They found that exposure to media images of attractiveness increased women's
weight concern for the high body-dissatisfied women only.
Also demonstrating the moderating effect of body-image disturbance, Groesz and
colleagues (2002) reported that high body-dissatisfied samples were more adversely
affected by the thin media stimuli than low body-dissatisfied samples. Similarly,
Heinberg and Thompson (1995) also revealed that the women with higher body-image
disturbance and higher internalization of an ideal were more adversely affected by the
appearance videos than women with low levels of body-image disturbance and
In contrast, other researchers have found that body-image disturbance does not
moderate media effects. Irving (1990) examined the impact of exposure to slides of thin,
average, and oversize models on college women (N = 162) exhibiting varying levels of
self-reported bulimic symptoms. These results, however, revealed that exposure to thin
model slides was related to lower self-evaluations (i.e., lower self-esteem and decreased
weight satisfaction) regardless of severity of bulimic symptoms. Similarly, Kalodner
(1997) assessed the immediate impact of brief exposure (i.e., less than one minute) to
images taken from media on the self-consciousness and anxiety of noneating-disordered
female college students (N= 60). The results revealed that the college-aged women who
viewed pictures of thin female models expressed higher private self-consciousness, body
competence, and state anxiety compared to those who viewed control slides. Therefore,
regardless of eating disorder status, women experience societal pressure, expressed in the
media, to be thin.
A third potential moderator variable for the effects of the media portrayal of the
ideal physique on mood is the moderating effect of age. The general finding in this area is
that younger women report more body-image disturbance than older women. Garner
(1997) reported in The Body Image Survey the following:
The youngest women, ages 13-19, are both the thinnest and most satisfied with
their appearance, however 54% of them are still dissatisfied. The number
barely increased to 57% among women ages 20-29... The good news is that even
though women gain weight with age, they don't become more dissatisfied as they
get older. (p. 38)
Groesz and colleagues (2002) found that women who were not yet college-aged
were more adversely affected by the presentation of thin media stimuli than people aged
19 and over. They coded the 25 studies used in the meta-analysis according to two
categories: younger than 19 and older than 19. This may have lead to a slight discrepancy
because the studies I have described above generally sampled from college populations
with an average age of 18-mid 20s. For example, the Cusumano and Thompson (1997)
study sample ranged in age from 18-49 (M~= 24, SD = 6.6), and the Kalodner (1997)
study sample ranged in age from 17-40 (M~= 18.97). Thus, further research is needed
examining the moderating effect of age on body-image disturbance.
Ethnicity and Body-Image Disturbance
When examining the comparisons that people make and their own body-image
disturbance, it is necessary to include ethnicity as a moderating factor. As a scientific
term, ethnicity distinguishes "groups of people by their ancestry, language, customs,
religion, culture, or nationality without relying upon the physical characteristics that are
central to the definition of race" (Atkinson, 2003). According to the United States Census
Bureau (2000) the largest ethnic minorities in the United States are Hispanics/ Latinos
(12.5% of the US population; 16.8% of Florida' s population) and Black/ African
Americans (12.30% of the US population; 14.6% of Florida' s population). Although
African Americans comprise the second largest minority, studies have consistently shown
that African-American women have a more positive body image than Caucasian women
(Altabe, 1998; Cash & Henry, 1995; Miller et al., 2000; Rosen, Anthony, Booker &
Brown, 1991). African-American women also report more body satisfaction and less
overestimation of weight than Caucasian women (Miller et al.). I have chosen to study
African Americans as the ethnic minority in my thesis because differences in body image
are largest between Caucasians and African Americans. This will be discussed further in
Although researchers have found differences in body-image disturbance between
different ethnic populations, they caution that there are also differences among ethnic
minority samples. For example, within the U.S. Black population, there is a general
preference for a fuller shape and a shapelier figure because a larger body size is culturally
associated with high social status, health, and beauty (Ofosu, Lafreniere, & Senn, 1998).
When increased social, vocational and economic opportunities are available to women of
color, women of color may become vulnerable, and conform to pressure to be "perfect" in
the context of upward social mobility (Root, 1990). This perfection may be pursued by
shaping one's body to fit the mainstream culture's female body ideal. Thus, research
examining the ideal physique for different ethnic populations is also needed.
In a 1994 survey, Essence magazine (a fashion magazine marketed to an African-
American audience) reported that its readers were just as dissatisfied with their body
weight as the Glamnour magazine (a fashion magazine marketed to a Caucasian audience)
readers had been a decade earlier (Pumariega et al., 1994.) Thus, Gregory (1994) stated
that "...1argeness.. .once accepted-even revered-among Black folks...now carries the same
unmistakable stigma as it does among Whites" (p. 57). Results show that participants had
adopted attitudes toward body image, weight, and eating, and suffered from levels of
depression, equal to their White counterparts. The Essence magazine eating disorder
study examined a sample of 600 women and found that 66% of the respondents reported
dieting behavior, 39% claimed that food controls their lives, and 54% were at risk for an
eating disorder. Similarly, 75% of Glamnour respondents thought they were "too fat"
(Pumariega et al.). It is important to note that this type of survey research has its
limitations. First, the survey was only available to readers of Glamnour and Essence
magazines. Second, the respondents were most likely women with strong feelings about
their body image. Third, the authors had no control over how the respondents would
interpret the questions. Although body-image surveys can provide an abundance of data,
researchers must be careful when interpreting the data and generalizing their findings to a
Demarest and Allen (2000) also found that the African-American women (n = 20)
in their study were not more satisfied with their body sizes than were the Caucasian
women (n = 20). Although body dissatisfaction may be similar in these two ethnic
groups, the African-American women had the most accurate perceptions of what men
found attractive, while Caucasian women had the greatest distortion of what men found
attractive. That is, the Caucasian women thought that men would prefer shapes thinner
than the ones the men indicated as being attractive. African-American women still
reported a desire to be thinner; however, they knew exactly how thin the men wanted
them to be (Demarest & Allen).
This narrowing of the gap of body dissatisfaction between Caucasians and
Minorities is not limited to adult women. In their study of Black and White, 9 and 10-
year olds, 40% of the girls reported wanting to lose weight, with no significant difference
between Black or White girls (Schreiber, Robins, Striegel-Moore, Obarzanek, Morrison,
& Wright, 1996). Another study by Smith and Krejci (1991) examined eating disordered
behavior and attitudes among high school Hispanics, Native Americans, and Whites in
the U.S. They concluded that the rate of disturbed eating behavior is at least as prevalent
among Native Americans and Hispanics as it is among White adolescents.
Although there is a difference between Caucasian women and African-American
women regarding their body images, current research shows that both groups are
becoming more dissatisfied with their bodies. The images perpetuated by the media may
be influencing women of all ethnic backgrounds. More research is needed to identify
reasons for why the gap is narrowing.
There are several research limitations to consider when reviewing the literature on
body image (Thompson et al., 1999), media effects, and ethnicity. First, researchers are
using multiple operational and conceptual definitions of body image (Bane & McAuley,
1998). For example, body-image constructs include appearance evaluation, body-size
perception, physique anxiety, and avoidant behaviors that are related to appearance
(Thompson et al.). In some cases, researchers and clinicians are using the terms (e.g.,
body-image dissatisfaction, body-image disorder, and body-image disturbance)
interchangeably. Due to the casual use of the term, caution must be taken when
comparing studies that claim to assess body image because, for example, one study may
examine perceptions of appearance whereas the other may assess attitudes about
appearance (Hausenblas & Symons Downs, 2001). It is recommended that body image be
viewed and measured as a multidimensional construct and that the dimensions of body
image assessed are clearly defined (Bane & McAuley; Thompson et al.). Researchers also
need to examine the difference between awareness, as well as, internalization of societal
ideals of appearance on the influence of body image (Hausenblas & Symons Downs).
Second, these numerous body-image measures that have been developed vary
depending on which aspect of body-image disturbance is being assessed. These
instruments differ in regards to their psychometric properties, feasibility, and frequency
of use (Bane & McAuley, 1998; Thompson, et al., 1999.) Comparing individual studies
investigating the body-image-media relationship is difficult. When choosing a body-
image measure, researchers should consider the population they are investigating as well
as inspect the body-image measures based on the validity and reliability of the measure,
and the scale type (e.g., Likert or visual analog). With regard to scale type, researchers
have recently suggested that traditional measures of body-image using Likert scales
anchored with "weak", "moderate", and "strong" are inadequate because the intensity of
those adj ectives depends on the range of people' s experiences (Bartoshuk, 2000a, 2000b,
Carpenter, 2000). Therefore, visual analog scales with universally adjective-labeled
scales are suggested for use in psychology (Bartoshuk, 2000a, 2000b; Carpenter).
Third, it is difficult to generalize from the experimental media studies because they
vary in the demographics of the participants, procedures followed, stimuli selected, and
assessments used. Most participants are U.S. college students (particularly, women) and
several studies have used only one method of measuring body image (Demarest & Allen,
2000; Groesz et al., 2002). Groesz and colleagues noted in their meta-analysis that studies
have used different methods of presenting the mass media (e.g., magazine slides,
magazine photos, and television commercials), different numbers of stimulus slides (e.g.,
10 photos versus 36 photos), different exposure times (e.g., less than one minute, 20
minutes, and even an inability to account for the quantity of time), and different control
conditions (e.g., models of normal weight, overweight models, images of cars and
houses). With regard to the presentation of the mass media and exposure time, the authors
sampled studies that used all three forms mentioned above but they did not analyze
differences between the presentation methods. They found that the effect size was
greatest with only a few exposures to slide stimuli (i.e., not with 10 or more); however,
they did not analyze differences in the actual time spent looking at the stimuli. Finally,
they found that studies using average models as the control produced the strongest effect
size (Groesz, et al.).
Finally, there have been no studies of body image, media effects, and ethnicity.
Body image concerns are influenced by cultural and ethnic factors, yet most research on
the media and disordered eating has focused on Caucasians (Irving, 2001). Thus, research
on ethnicity and media response is needed.
The participants were 31 female Caucasian and 30 female African-American,
undergraduate students who were enrolled in sport and fitness, Anatomy, and Personal
and Family Health classes at the University of Florida. Participants ranged in age from
18-25. A power analysis indicated that based on an alpha level of .05, a sample size of 60
(30 Caucasian women and 30 African-American women) was needed to obtain a
moderate effect size with a power of .77 for the analyses conducted (Tran, 1997).
The Demographic Questionnaire assessed the participant' s age, height, weight,
ideal weight, and ethnicity. The participants also indicated their country of birth and how
long they had lived in the United States. These answers were used to select Caucasian
and African-American participants who have spent a maj ority of their lives in the United
Body Mass Index. Body Mass Index (BMI), an assessment of body weight relative
to height, was computed based on self-reported height and weight of the participants.
This is calculated by converting weight from pounds to kilograms, and converting height
from inches to meters (kg/m2). BMI is a reliable estimate of obesity; however, there is a
5% standard error when using BMI to estimate body fat percentage
(American College of Sports Medicine [ACSM], 2000; Garrow & Webster, 1985). To
calculate actual BMI, height and weight of each participant were measured by a
Healthometer scale (Chicago, 1L)
Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised
The participant' s internalization of the ideal-body stereotype was assessed with the
8-item Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised (Stice, Ziemba, Margolis, & Flick, 1996).
The participants indicated their agreement with statements on a 5-point Likert Scale
anchored with strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5; See Appendix C). Sample
statements include "Slim women are more attractive" and "Tall women are more
attractive." High scores indicated that the participant agreed with socioculturally
endorsed views of the ideal woman. The Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised has
adequate reliability and validity (Stice et al.).
Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale
The participant' s satisfaction with body features such as the face, hair, weight, and
muscle tone was assessed with the 8-item Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale of the
Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (Cash, 2000). The participant
indicated her satisfaction on a 5-point scale anchored at the extremes with very
dissatisfied (1) to very satisfied (5). High scores indicated greater satisfaction with one's
body. The Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale has good psychometric properties (Cash; See
Mood Visual Analog Scale
The participant' s mood (anxiety, depression, anger, and body dissatisfaction) was
assessed using a 4-item Mood Visual Analog Scale (Heinberg & Thompson, 1995; See
Appendix E). The participant indicated her mood by drawing a perpendicular line across
the 10cm horizontal line at the location that "best describes how you feel right now." The
four items were anchored from No Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Body Dissatisfaction to
Worst Possible Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Body Dissatisfaction. The lines drawn by the
participant were measured using a ruler. This measure has adequate psychometric
properties, and it has been used in studies examining media effects on mood and body
image (e.g., Heinberg & Thompson; Lavin & Cash, 2001).
The following two slide conditions were used representing women: (a) Caucasian
mass media ideals and (b) Caucasian normal-weight controls. Each condition contained
nine pictures of women (exercising, in lingerie, in designer clothing, in bathing suits)
taken from popular fashion, beauty and, health magazines and clothing catalogues
marketed for women (Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Allure, Marie Claire, InStyle, Shape,
Victoria's Secret Catalogue, New Port News Catalogue, Junonia active wear catalogue).
Following the procedures of Cusumano and Thompson (1997) and Waller,
Hamiltion, and Shaw (1992), all pictures met the following criteria:
Photographs depicted individual women.
Figures were positioned so that their bodies were within 450 of facing front
or directly back.
Photographs showed at least a three-quarter shot (i.e., head down to at least
the lower thigh).
At least three-fourths of the arms, upper torso, stomach, or legs were either
visible or not obscured by baggy clothing.
Figures were well-defined (i.e., baggy clothing or dark clothing were not be
masking body shape.)
Photographs had no overlaid type.
Figures were larger than a 3 x 3cm square.
Preadolescent females, adolescent females, and pregnant women were not
A content analysis was performed to select the pictures that were used in the two
conditions. A group of nine female graduate students and one female professor at the
University of Florida viewed and rated 60 photos (i.e., 30 Mass Media Ideal photos and
30 Control photos). Each rater viewed the slides in a Microsoft PowerPoint@ format just
as the participant would view them in the actual viewing task. They were asked to
indicate whether each picture was either a mass media ideal, a control, or neither. A mass
media ideal was defined as "the female body that is reflected in the media as 'perfect.'"
A control was defined as representative of "the average 'real' American woman.'" The
raters were told that "the photographs in the Control condition may not reflect the ideal
set forth by the mass media but rather more of a realistic ideal for society." Finally, the
raters indicated neither, if the woman in the picture did not portray a mass media ideal or
If the raters indicated that the pictures represented either the mass media ideal or
the control, they were then asked to indicate their agreement with the statement "This
picture accurately portrays a [mass media ideal or control]," on a 5-point Likert scale
anchored with extremes from Strongly Agree (5) to Strongly Disagree (1; See Appendix
F). Higher scores indicated that the photo was an accurate portrayal of a mass media ideal
or a control. The top 9 photos (i.e., photos with the highest scores) for each condition
were selected for the viewing task. According to a meta-analysis on media images and
body satisfaction (Groesz et al., 2002), effect size was the greatest with exposure to nine
or less stimuli (d = -.45) than with 10 to 19 exposures (d = -.3 1), or more (d = -.28). The
mean score of the raters for the nine mass media ideal pictures was M~= 4.6 (range = 4.9
to 4.3) and the mean score for the control pictures was M~= 4.35 (range = 4.6 to 4. 1).
Over 600 undergraduate students from the University of Florida were prescreened
to participate and about 200 were contacted to participate in the study, which was
approved by the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (Protocol # 2002-124;
See Appendix A). Female students were recruited from sport and fitness, Anatomy, and
Personal and Family Health classes and asked to complete the following three
questionnaires: the Demographics Questionnaire, Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale, and
Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised. Prior to completing the questionnaires, the
participants completed an Informed Consent (See Appendix B). The students received
extra credit for completing the measures in class.
Based on the answers to the recruitment questionnaire, 61 female participants (31
Caucasians and 30 African-Americans) were randomly chosen to complete the remainder
of the study. As discussed previously, the participants indicated where they were born
and how long they had lived in the United States. The answers provided were used to
identify women who were exposed and assimilated to the ideals of the American mass
media and society. For example, a Caucasian woman who was born and raised in the
United States would be recruited before a Caucasian woman who was born and raised in
Germany, but was currently studying in the United States.
To increase the response rate, several procedures were taken (Ransdell, 1996).
First, each participant received a maximum of two phone calls to recruit and schedule
them for the slide-viewing task. Second, each participant received an e-mail reminder two
days before they were scheduled to come to the Exercise Psychology Lab. Third, each
participant was given a phone call reminder the night before their visit. Finally, the
participants may have had the opportunity to receive extra credit depending on the class
they were recruited from (i.e., Participants were recruited from classes whose instructors
may have offered extra credit for participation in a study.)
The next two parts of the study were conducted in the Exercise Psychology Lab.
Condition A and Condition B (described in detail below) were one week apart and each
session was about 15 minutes. Instructions and procedures were identical in both parts;
however, the slides viewed by the participant were different--either mass media ideals or
controls. The order of the conditions was randomized for each participant and the slides
within each condition were counterbalanced to control for order effects.
The participants came to the Exercise Psychology Lab individually and met with
the experimenter, who went over the directions of the slide-viewing task, answered any
questions, and then stepped outside of the room. The experimenter told the participants
they were participating in a study examining body image and the media. The participant
filled out the Mood Visual Analog Scale and then viewed the 9 slides (either mass media
ideals or controls). The participant was sitting 2 feet away from a 15-inch computer
monitor during the slide-viewing task that was presented in a Microsoft PowerPoint@
presentation format. Each slide flashed on the computer screen for 15 seconds and then
automatically transitioned to the next slide. The timing of the slides was controlled so
that all participants had the same amount of time to view each slide. Slide viewing took 2
min 15 sec. When the participant finished viewing the slides, she opened the door and the
experimenter came back into the room with another Mood Visual Analog Scale that was
then completed by the participant. Finally, the experimenter scheduled the next visit one
week later at the same time of day for the participant to view the other slide condition to
control for the diurnal effects of mood (Gauvin, Rej eski & Reboussin, 2000). At the end
of the second visit, the experimenter assessed each participant' s actual height and weight
on a scale provided in the Exercise Psychology Lab.
At the end of each condition, the participant answered two questions. The first was
"How representative of your current ideal body were the pictures you just viewed today?"
The participant indicated her answer on a 5-point scale anchored at the extremes with not
at all representative (1) to extremely representative (5). Then the participant was asked to
explain her answer in as much detail as possible (See Appendix G.) For example, if she
had circled a (1), she was to explain why she thought the pictures were not at all
representative of her ideal body. The participant also answered the question "What do
you consider to be the ideal physique?"
At the end of time two, the experimenter explained the true purpose of the study
(i.e., to look at the effect of ethnicity on body-image and mood) and informed the
participant that the photos they viewed purposely contained only Caucasian women. Each
participant was given a debriefing form (See Appendix H) that asked for her permission
to use the data that was just collected. The experimenter also answered any questions that
were asked and addressed any comments that were made about the study.
First, prior to conducting the analysis, the data were examined to ensure they met
the appropriate statistical assumptions. Second, internal consistency scores for the study
variables of the Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale and the Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-
Revised were assessed. Third, the descriptive statistics were computed for the sample
characteristics. Fourth, separate one-way ANOVAs were used to compare group
differences (i.e., Caucasians vs. African-American women) for age, height, weight, BMI,
internalization, and body satisfaction. The independent variable was group (i.e.,
Caucasian, African-American) and the dependent variables were age, height, weight,
BMI, internalization scores, and body-area satisfaction scores. If group differences
existed for these three variables, they would be used as covariates in further analysis.
For the primary purpose, four separate 2 (Group: Caucasian, African-American) x 2
(Slide: mass media ideals, ) x 2 (Time: pre-test and post-test scores) repeated measures
ANOVA were conducted for the Mood Visual Analog Scale. The between-group variable
was the two groups (i.e., Caucasian vs. African-American.) The within-group units were
the slides (i.e., the mass media ideals and the control slides) and the time (i.e., pre-test
and post-test scores). The independent variables were the two groups and the slide
conditions. The dependent variable was the Mood Visual Analog Scale scores (i.e.,
anxiety, depression, anger, and body dissatisfaction).
For the secondary purpose, four separate forced entered hierarchical regression
analyses were conducted to examine if pretest scores, BMI, internalization, and body
satisfaction could predict posttest scores of each group. The order and content of the
blocks of variables for the independent variables were entered in the following manner:
posttest scores (dependent variable) were regressed on pretest scores of anxiety,
depression, anger, and body dissatisfaction (Block 1), followed by BMI, internalization
scores, and body satisfaction scores (Block 2).
Internal consistency scores (i.e., Chronbach's alpha; Nunnally, 1978) were
calculated for the Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale and the Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-
Revised by ethnicity (i.e., Caucasian, African-American). Because the alpha value
increases with the number of variables, there is no consensus regarding the interpretation
of internal consistency scores. I used the rules for the interpretation of alpha values
described by George and Mallery (2001). For the Caucasian women, Chronbach' s Alpha
for the Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale was good (a = .88) and for the Ideal Body
Stereotyping Scale-Revised it was excellent (a = .90). Similarly, for the African-
American women, Chronbach's Alpha for the Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale was good (a
=.89) and for the Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised it was excellent (a = .93).
A total of 672 women were screened for this study (n = 478 Caucasian, n = 101
African-American, n = 50 Hispanic, n = 31 Asian, and n = 12 other.) Based on the
inclusion criteria of the participants being Caucasian or African-American, 579 women
qualified to participate (i.e., n = 478 Caucasian + n = 101 African-American = 579.) Of
the 579 women who qualified to participate, 191 were randomly selected and contacted
for study participation. Mean and standard deviation scores for age, height, weight, BMI,
body satisfaction, and internalization for the 672 women screened for study participation,
the 579 eligible participants, and the 191 women contacted for study participation are
presented in Table 4.1.
Table 4. 1. Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for Descriptive Statistics of Women
Screened for Participation, Eligible for Participation, and Phoned for
Screened Eligible Selected
Participants Participants Participants
(N = 672) (n = 579) (n = 191)
Variable M~ (SD) M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Age 19.81 (1.57) 19.79 (1.52) 19.73 (1.37)
Height (m) 1.62 (0.07) 1.63 (0.07) 1.63 (0.07)
Weight(kg) 60.58 (9.92) 60.98 (9.62) 62.45 (10.88)
BMI 22.98 (3.51) 22.99 (3.45) 23.47 (4.07)
BASS 27.71 (5.37) 27.87 (4.69) 27.51 (5.78)
IBSS-R 28.02 (4.47) 28.03 (4.52) 27.52 (5.23)
Note. BMI = Body Mass Index. BASS = Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale. IBSS-R =
Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised. The eligible and randomly selected
participants did not differ significantly on the above variables, p > .05.
Of the 191 potential participants, 27 did not wish to participate, 77 did not return
my two phone calls, and 9 women could not be reached (i.e., no answering machine,
wrong phone number, disconnected phone number.) Therefore, I had a response rate of
59% (i.e., 113/191). Of the 78 women scheduled to participate in the study, 11 did not
show up to their first scheduled session, and 6 women did not attend their second
scheduled session (i.e., nonadherers). Therefore, 61 women completed the full laboratory
portion of this study, demonstrating a 22% attrition rate. One-way Analysis of Variance
(ANOVA) showed that the nonadherers did not differ significantly from the adherers on
the demographic variables of age [F (1, 66) = 1.99, p = .16], height [F (1, 66) = .95, p =
.34], weight [F (1, 66) = .92, p = .34], BMI [F (1, 66) = 1.89, p = .17], body satisfaction
[F (1, 64) = .91, p = .34], and internalization [F (1, 65) = .07, p = .79] (see Table 4.2).
Table 4.2. Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for the Nonadherers and Adherers.
(n = 6) (n = 61)
Variable M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Age 19.00 (0.89) 19.70 (1.19)
Height (m) 1.67 (0.03) 1.64 (0.07)
Weight (kg) 60.08 (5.70) 65.49 (13.67)
BMI 21.61 (2.33) 24.28 (4.69)
BASS 30.33 (6.12) 27.85 (6.06)
IBSS-R 26.67 (4.37) 27.31 (5.83)
Note. BMI = Body Mass Index. BASS = Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale. IBSS-R = Ideal
Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised. Nonadherers and adheres did not differ significantly
on the above variables, p > .05.
Mean and standard deviation scores for descriptive statistics for age, height,
weight, BMI, body satisfaction, and internalization for the 130 nonparticipants and the 61
participants are listed in Table 4.3. Nonparticipants were the women who did not wish to
participate (n = 27), did not return my phone calls (n = 77), could not be reached (n = 9),
did not show up to a scheduled session (n = 11) and did not complete the study (n = 6).
The results of a one-way ANOVA revealed no differences between the nonparticipants
and the participants for BMI [F (1, 180) = 1.20, p = .27], body satisfaction [F (1, 182) =
.49, p = .49], or internalization [F (1, 181) = 0. 19, p = .66].
Table 4.3. Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for the Nonparticipant and Participants.
(n = 130) (n = 61)
Variable M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Age 19.71 (1.44) 19.70 (1.19)
Height (m) 1.62 (0.07) 1.64 (0.07)
Weight (kg) 61.83 (10.18) 65.49 (13.67)
BMI 23.26 (3.71) 24.28 (4.69)
BASS 27.33 (5.64) 27.85 (6.06)
IBSS-R 27.63 (4.96) 27.31 (5.83)
Note. BMI = Body Mass Index. BASS = Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale. IBSS-R = Ideal
Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised. Nonparticipants and participants did not differ
significantly on the above variables, p > .05.
Mean and standard deviation scores for descriptive statistics for the 61 Caucasian
and African-American women who completed the study are presented in Table 4.4. An
ANOVA revealed no group differences between the Caucasian and African-American
women for BMI [F (1, 60) = 3.23, p = .08], body-areas satisfaction [F (1, 58) = .83, p =
.37], or internalization [F (1, 59) = 3.3 5, p = .07].
All 3 1 of the Caucasian women reported that they were born in the United States.
Furthermore, 29 of the women had lived in the US since birth, while the other 2 women
had lived in the US for at least 15 years. For the African-American women, 26 out of 30
reported being born in the US, with 25 living in the US since birth and 1 living in the US
for at least 15 years. The other 4 African-American women were born abroad (e.g.,
Canada, England, Jamaica, and Nigeria) and had lived in the US for at least 10 years.
Table 4.4. Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for the Caucasian and African-American
(n = 31) (n = 30)
Variable M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Age 19.52 (1.09) 19.90 (1.27)
Height (m) 1.64 (0.06) 1.64 (0.07)
Weight (kg) 62.87 (9.55) 68.20 (16.65)
BMI 23.24 (3.10) 25.36 (5.77)
BASS 27.16 (6.10) 28.61 (6.04)
IBSS-R 28.67 (4.96) 25.97 (6.38)
Note. BMI = Body Mass Index. BASS = Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale. IBSS-R = Ideal
Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised. The Caucasians and African-American women did not
differ significantly on the above variables, p > .05.
To verify that the data met the assumptions for normality, the data were examined
for skewness and kurtosis. Although, a value of zero indicates a normal distribution,
values between -2 and +2 are acceptable criterion for meeting the assumptions of
normality. Thus, the sample in this experiment (N = 61) met the criterion for normality
for age, height, weight, BMI, Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale, and Ideal Body
Stereotyping Scale- Revised (see Table 4.5 for means and standard deviations of
skewness and kurtosis for the adherers).
Table 4.5. Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for Skewness and Kurtosis of the 61
Adherers for the study variables.
Variable M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Age .60 (0.31) -. 10 (0.60)
Height (m) .59 (0.31) .28 (0.60)
Weight (kg) 1.46 (0.31) 2.61 (0.60)
BMI 1.48 (0.31) 2.36 (0.60)
BASS -.34 (0.31) .39 (0.61)
IBSS-R -.37 (0.31) -. 10 (0.61)
Note. BMI = Body Mass Index. BASS = Body-Areas Satisfaction Scale. IBSS-R = Ideal
Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised.
Four separate 2 (group: African-American and Caucasian) x 2 (slide: models and
controls) x 2 (time: pre and posttest mood) repeated measures ANOVA were conducted
to determine if the participants in the two groups who viewed both the slide conditions
(IV) differed on their pre and posttest mood scores (DV). See Table 4.6 and 4.7 for the
means and standard deviation scores of pre and posttest mood for both the Model and the
Control slide conditions, respectively. The results of these analyses are separated by
mood and described in detail below.
Anxiety. Homogeneity of variance-covariance was met [F (9, 158860) = 1.06, p =
.39], therefore Wilks' Lambda statistic was used to interpret the within-subjects ANOVA
results. No significant main effects for time [Wilks' Lambda = .98, F (1, 118) = 2.29, p =
.13, r2 = .019] or slide [F (1, 118) = .77, p = .38, r2 = .01] were found. However, a
significant main effect for group was found [F (1, 118) = 6.73, p = .01, r2 = .05].
Examination of the mean scores revealed that the Caucasian women had higher overall
pretest and posttest anxiety than the African-American women.
No significant group x slide interaction [F (1, 118) = .01, p = .94, r2 < .01], time x
group interaction [Wilks' Lambda = 1.0, F (1, 118) = .12, p = .73, r2 = .001], time x slide
interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F (1, 118) = 1.46, p = .23, r2 = .012], or time x group
x slide interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F (1, 118) = .82, p = .37, r2 = .007] were
evidenced for anxiety.
Depression. Homogeneity of variance-covariance was met [F (9, 158860) = .90, p
=.53], therefore Wilks' Lambda statistic was used to interpret the within-subj ects
ANOVA results. No significant main effect for group [F (1, 118) = 1.20, p = .28, r2
.02], or slide [F (1, 118) = .45, p = .50, r2 = .004] was found. However, a significant
main effect for time was found [Wilks' Lambda = .95, F (1, 118) = 5.76, p = .02, r2
.047]. Examination of the mean scores indicated that all of the women became more
depressed after viewing the slides, regardless of the condition (i.e., Model and Control
No significant group x slide interaction [F (1, 118) = .03, p = .86, r2 < .001], time x
group interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F (1, 118) = 1.43, p = .23, r2 = .012], time x
slide interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .97, F (1, 118) = 3.43, p = .07, r2 = .028], and time x
group x slide interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F (1, 118) = 1.82, p = .18, r2 = .015]
were evidenced for depression.
Anger. Homogeneity of variance-covariance was met [F (9, 158860) = 1.3, p =
.23], therefore Wilks' Lambda statistic was used to interpret the within-subjects ANOVA
results. No significant main effects for time, [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F (1, 118) = .91, p =
.34, r2 = .008], group [F (1, 118) = 1.04, p = .31, r2 = .009], or slide [F (1, 118) = .03, p
=.87, r2 < .001] were evidenced for anger.
Similarly, no significant group x slide interaction [F (1, 118) = .06, p = .80, r2
.001], time x group interaction [Wilks' Lambda = 1.0, F (1, 118) = .62, p = .43, r2
.005], time x slide interaction [Wilks' Lambda = 1.0, F (1, 118) = 17, p = .68, r2 = .001]
and time x group x slide interaction [Wilks' Lambda = .99, F (1, 118) = 1.06, p = .31, r2
=.009] were found for anger.
Body Dissatisfaction. Homogeneity of variance-covariance was met [F (9,
158860) = .81, p = .61], therefore Wilks' Lambda statistic was used to interpret the
within-subj ects ANOVA results. No significant main effects for time [Wilks' Lambda =
1.0, F (1, 118) = .04, p = .85, r2 < .001], group [F (1, 118) = 3.28, p = .07, r2 = .027], or
slide [F (1, 118) = .93, p = .34, r2 = .008] were evidenced for body dissatisfaction.
Similarly, no significant group x slide interaction [F (1, 118) = .13, p = .72, r2
.001], and time x group interaction [Wilks' Lambda = 1.0, F (1, 118) = .23, p = .64, r2
.002] were found. Results indicated, however, a significant time x slide [Wilks' Lambda
=.89, F (1, 118) = 14.76, p < .001, r2 = .111] and time x group x slide [Wilks' Lambda =
.94, F (1, 118) = 7.30, p = .008, r2 = .058] interaction for body dissatisfaction.
Examination of the mean scores revealed that the Caucasian women reported higher body
dissatisfaction scores after viewing the model slides, but they reported +b lower body
dissatisfaction scores after viewing the control slides. In comparison, the African-
American women showed no significant changes from pre to posttest body dissatisfaction
after viewing either slide condition (see Figure 4.1).
Anxiety 3.02 (2.23) 2.87 (2.40) 1.93 (2.16) 2.02 (2.18)
Depression 1.96 (2.24) 2.43 (2.48) 1.78 (2.21) 1.90 (2.24)
Anger 1.18 (1.49) 1.25 (1.52) 0.86 (1.21) 0.97 (1.53)
Body Dissatisfaction 3.57 (2.14) 4.22 (2.62) 2.92 (2.53) 2.97 (2.68)
-- --- -AA (model
Figure 4.1. Time by group by slide interaction for body dissatisfaction.
Table 4.6. Means and Standard Deviations for the Model Slide Condition.
(n = 3 1)
African American women
(n = 30)
Table 4.7. Means and Standard Deviations for the Control
(n = 3 1)
Mood States Pretest Posttest
M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Anxiety 2.70 (1.96) 2.50 (1.93)
Depression 1.99 (2.15) 2.02 (2.23)
Anger 1.04 (1.25) 1.20 (1.40)
Body Dissatisfaction 3.61 (2.09) 2.01 (2.24)
African American women
(n = 0 1)
M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
1.83 (1.87) 1.53 (1.75)
1.48 (1.91) 1.53 (2.09)
0.98 (1.29) 0.89 (1.18)
2.77 (2.69) 2.60 (2.70)
Four separate forced entered hierarchical regression analyses (HRA) were
undertaken to examine if pretest mood scores (i.e., anxiety, depression, anger, and body
dissatisfaction), BMI, internalization, and body satisfaction predicted posttest mood
scores. In Block 1, posttest mood scores were regressed on pretest mood scores (i.e.,
anxiety, depression, anger, and body dissatisfaction.) In Block 2, BMI, internalization,
and body satisfaction were entered into the regression. The results of these analyses are
separated by mood and described below.
Anxiety. Examination of the tolerance values for the anxiety HRA revealed that I
did not have mulitcollinearity among the independent variables (tolerance value range =
.94 to 1.0; Mertler & Vannatta, 2002). In the anxiety HRA, anxiety posttest score
(dependent variable) was regressed on anxiety pretest (Block 1), followed by BMI,
internalization, and body satisfaction (Block 2). Results of this HRA showed that anxiety
pretest score (Block 1) explained 77.3% of the variance in the anxiety posttest [F (1, 1 14)
= 388.63, p < .001]. Block 2 (BMI, internalization, and body satisfaction) explained an
additional 1.9% of the variance in posttest anxiety [F (4, 1 11) = 109.28, p < .001], with
only pretest anxiety (P = .85, p < .001) and body satisfaction (P = -.04, p < .04) being
significant predictors of posttest anxiety. See Table 4.8 for predictors of anxiety posttest
Table 4.8. Hierarchical Regression Predicting. Posttest Anxiety for all the Women.
Anxiety R2 F df P t p
Pretest mood .77 388.63 1, 114 .88 19.71 .00
Pretest mood .80 109.25 4, 111 .83 18.52 .00
BMI .04 .77 .44
Internalization .08 1.83 .07
Body Satisfaction -.10 -2.05 .04
Depression. Examination of the tolerance values for the depression HRA revealed
that I did not have mulitcollinearity among the independent variables (tolerance value
range = .88 to .96; Mertler & Vannatta, 2002). In the depression HRA, depression
posttest score (dependent variable) was regressed on depression pretest score (Block 1),
followed by BMI, internalization, and body satisfaction (Block 2). Results of this HRA
showed that the depression pretest score (Block 1) explained 87.9% of the variance in
depression posttest [F (1, 114) = 831.31, p < .001]. Block 2 (BMI, internalization, and
body satisfaction) explained an additional 0.8% of the variance in posttest depression [F;
(4, 111) = 217.78, p < .001], with only pretest depression (P = .85, p < .001) being a
significant predictor of posttest depression. See Table 4.9 for predictors of depression
posttest mood scores.
Table 4.9. Hierarchical Regression Predicting Posttest Depression for all the Women.
Depression R2 F dfJ P t p
Pretest mood .88 831.31 1, 114 .94 28.83 .00
Pretest mood .89 217.78 4, 111 .90 25.32 .00
BMI .04 1.09 .28
Internalization .01 .38 .70
Body Satisfaction -.07 -1.74 .09
Anger. Examination of the tolerance values for the anger HRA revealed that I did
not have mulitcollinearity among the independent variables (tolerance value range = .98
to 1.0; Mertler & Vannatta, 2002). In the anger HRA, anger posttest score (dependent
variable) was regressed on anger pretest score (Block 1), followed by BMI,
internalization, and body satisfaction (Block 2). Results of this HRA showed that anger
pretest (Block 1) explained 70.9% of the variance in the anger posttest score [F (1, 1 14) =
278.21, p < .001]. Block 2 (BMI, internalization, and body satisfaction) explained an
additional 1.6% of the variance in posttest anger [F (4, 1 11) = 73.15, p < .001], with only
pretest anger (p = .82, p < .001) being a significant predictor of posttest anger. See Table
4. 10 for predictors of anger posttest mood scores.
Table 4. 10. Hierarchical Regression Predicting. Posttest Anger for all the Women.
Anger R2 F df P t P
Pretest mood .71 278.21 1, 114 .84 16.68 .00
Pretest mood .73 73.15 4, 111 .82 16.31 .00
BMI .03 .48 .64
Internalization .10 1.85 .07
Body Satisfaction -.05 -.86 .39
Body Dissatisfaction. Examination of the tolerance values for the body
dissatisfaction HRA revealed that I did not have mulitcollinearity among the independent
variables (tolerance value range = .72 to .89; Mertler & Vannatta, 2002). In the body
dissatisfaction HRA, body dissatisfaction posttest score (dependent variable) was
regressed on body dissatisfaction pretest score (Block 1), followed by BMI,
internalization, and body satisfaction (Block 2). Results of this HRA showed that body
dissatisfaction pretest score (Block 1) explained 81.6% of the variance in the body
dissatisfaction posttest score [F (1, 114) = 506.61, p < .001]. Block 2 (BMI,
internalization, and body satisfaction) explained an additional 0.3% of the variance in
posttest body dissatisfaction [F (4, 111) = 129. 10, p < .001], with only pretest body
dissatisfaction (P = .87, p < .001) being a significant predictor of posttest body
dissatisfaction. See Table 4. 11 for predictors of body dissatisfaction posttest mood scores.
Table 4. 11. Hierarchical Regression Predicting Posttest Body Dissatisfaction for all the
Body R2 F df P t p
Di ssati sfacti on
Pretest mood .82 506.61 1, 114 .90 22.51 .00
Pretest mood .82 129.10 4, 111 .87 16.41 .00
BMI .02 .37 .72
Internalization -.03 -.54 .59
Body Satisfaction -.08 -1.67 .10
For the manipulation check, participants were asked for both slide conditions,
"How representative of your current ideal body were the pictures you just viewed today?"
The participant indicated her answer on a 5-point scale anchored at the extremes with not
at all representative (1) to extremely representative (5). A two-way ANOVA was
conducted to determine the effects of ethnicity (i.e., Caucasian, African-American) and
slide condition (i.e., model, control) on representativeness of an ideal physique (DV).
Significant main effects for ethnicity [F (1, 122) = 7.89, p = .01] and slide condition [F;
(1, 122) = 29.30, p < .001] were found. Also, a significant ethnicity by slide interaction
[F (1, 122) = 7.20, p = .01] was found. Examination of the mean scores indicated that the
Caucasian women reported the models as more representative of their ideal body
compared to African-American women, but both groups of women reported the models
to be more representative of their ideal body than the control slides (see Table 4. 12 and
Table 4. 12. Mean and Standard Deviation Scores for Representativeness of Slides
Viewed for both Groups of Women (Caucasians and African-Americans).
Slide Condition (n = 31) (n =30)
M~ (SD) M~ (SD)
Models 3.30 (1.22)* 2.28 (1.10)*
Controls 1.79 (0.89) 1.77 (0.94)
* The Caucasians and African-American women differ significantly on the above
variables, p =.01.
Figure 4.2. Group by slide interaction for representativeness.
Finally after the debriefing, each participant was asked, "Did you notice that all of
the women in the slides were Caucasian?" The frequency counts are presented in Table
4. 13, which show that more of the African-American participants noticed that the slides
contained only Caucasian women. A Chi-square test revealed that the frequency counts
did significantly differ between the ethnicities [X2 (1) = 11.97, p = .001; Cramer' s V =
.44]. Results will be discussed in the subsequent chapter.
Table 4. 13. Frequency Count for Debriefing Question.
Did notice ethnicity Did not notice Totals
Caucasian Women 9 22 31
African-American 22 8 30
Total 31 30 61
* The Caucasians and African-American women differ significantly on the above
frequency count, p = .001.
During the past three decades, researchers have documented significant increases in
body-image disturbance for women (Berschied et al., 1973; Garner, 1997; Feingold &
Mazzella, 1998). This trend has been identified and studied primarily in Caucasian
women, who have shown higher incidences of body-image disturbance and eating
disorders compared to African-American women (Altabe, 1998; Cash & Henry, 1995;
Miller et al., 2000). Recent research, however, indicates that both ethnic groups are
becoming more dissatisfied with their body shape and size (Demarest & Allen, 2000;
Root, 1990), as their 'ideal' physiques are becoming thinner. Furthermore, African-
American women are not necessarily more satisfied with their body sizes than Caucasian
women (Demarest & Allen).
Many authors have implicated that the media promotes unrealistically thin ideal
physique, thus contributing to the rise of body disturbance in women (Levine & Smolak,
1996; Tiggemann & Pickering, 1996; Thompson, et al., 1999). It is known that exposure
to thin physiques in the media leads to high levels of body dissatisfaction (Harrison,
2001; Irving, 2001; Thompson & Heinberg, 1999), and has negative effects on mood
(Cattarin et al., 2000). Body image concerns are influenced by cultural and ethnic factors
yet, most research on the media and disordered eating has focused on Caucasians (Irving,
2001). Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to investigate the influence of ethnicity
(i.e., Caucasian or African-American) on the negative mood states elicited by exposure to
pictures of the "ideal" female Caucasian physique portrayed by the media.
My primary purpose was to examine the pre and posttest mood effects for
Caucasian women and African-American women after exposure to female Caucasian
physique slides of the media ideal and of the "average American woman" (i.e., control
slides). My hypothesis was partially supported, such that the Caucasian women reported
more increased mood disturbance for anxiety, depression, and body dissatisfaction after
viewing slides of the mass media ideals than the African-American women. Results for
each of these mood states are described in detail below.
With regard to anxiety, my hypothesis was confirmed such that the Caucasian
women reported significantly higher pretest and posttest anxiety scores compared to the
African-American women for both slide conditions. My hypothesis that media images
would produce increased anxiety compared to control slides for Caucasians was not
Consistent with my hypothesis both groups of women reported higher levels of
depression after viewing media pictures of the ideal body (Pinas et al., 1999; Stice &
Shaw, 1994); however, the women also reported higher levels of depression after viewing
control pictures of the average Caucasian woman. There may be several reasons for the
latter result. Although the women in the control slides were supposed to represent the
average American woman, the pictures were taken from magazines and catalogues. Thus,
these women in the control pictures were also "models"; therefore, these women were
attractive, had happy expressions, and were physically fit which may have prompted
upward social comparisons from the participants.
While the African-American women showed no significant changes from pre to
posttest body dissatisfaction after viewing either slide condition, the Caucasian women
reported significantly higher body dissatisfaction after viewing the model slides, and
significantly lower body dissatisfaction scores after viewing the control slides. This latter
Ending was consistent with my primary hypothesis and supported the research that
exposure to ideal images negatively affects a woman's body image. More importantly,
this finding presents a strong case for the Social Comparison Theory (Festinger, 1954;
Shaw & Waller, 1995). Festinger advanced that people make social comparisons only
with others who are similar with respect to themselves (i.e., similar skin color, stature,
opinions, abilities, etc.) In this study it is plausible that the Caucasian participants
identified (i.e., made social comparisons) with the photos based on similar skin color,
while the African-American participants did not. My results generally support the
literature on social comparison and are similar to a recent study that reported African-
American women are not affected by exposure to advertising with images of physically
attractive Caucasian women (Frisby, 2004). Specifically, Frisby found that African-
American women had a more positive body image than Caucasian women, and despite
their body size/shape, their body esteem was not affected by exposure to idealized
Contrary to my primary hypothesis, however, there were no significant group or
slide differences for anger. These results may be due to a floor effect for anger scores,
such that both groups were already reporting low levels of anger before viewing the
slides. Thus, little change could be observed at the posttest (See Tables 4.6 and 4.7).
To examine if the slide conditions were representative of what I wanted them to
portray (i.e., media ideals or controls), a manipulation check was included at the end of
each condition. In response to the question "How representative of your current ideal
body were the pictures you just viewed today?" both groups of women stated that the
pictures in the control slide condition were not representative of their ideal physique.
While both groups stated that the media slide condition were more representative of their
ideal than the control slides, the Caucasian participants found the media slide condition
more representative of their ideal compared to the African-American women. Thus, the
manipulation check supported that the Caucasian women made appropriate social
comparisons during each slide condition that they viewed.
The frequency counts from the debriefing question ("Did you notice that all of the
women in the slides were Caucasian?") showed that 22 African-Americans (73%) noticed
ethnicity of the women in the slides, but only 9 Caucasian (29%) women noticed. This
may indicate that Caucasian women were making social comparisons with the pictures
that they viewed. African-American women, however, noticed the ethnicity of the women
in the pictures. This group of women indicated that they did not feel that the pictures in
both slide conditions were representative of their ideal. One participant wrote, "...these
women were too skinny...Also, the women were White, so they don't represent Black
beauty which is different from what is appealing to White women." Because they did not
identify with the slide pictures, I am assuming they did not engage in social comparisons.
Because I did not measure actual cognitions of each participant, I can only make
assumptions based on the answers to the manipulation check and the debriefing question.
I do not know which features of the pictures my participants were attending to. For
example, I cannot say if the African-American women who did not identify with the
model slides noticed the thin physiques or the ethnicity of the models. Thus, it is useful to
examine the immediate thought patterns that occur on a moment-to-moment basis in a
study like this. In a nonlaboratory setting, it is important to examine these processes on a
day-to-day basis in individuals with body-image disturbance (Thompson et al., 1999).
Gaining this information may aid researchers and clinicians in understanding how
individuals see themselves and others in relation to body-image dimensions (Thompson
My secondary purpose was to identify the predictors of posttest mood. After
controlling for pretest mood scores, BMI, internalization and body satisfaction were not
significant predictors of posttest depression, anger, or body dissatisfaction. Body
satisfaction was the only predictor of posttest anxiety, indicating that women who
reported high body satisfaction experienced less anxiety compared to women who
reported low body satisfaction. Therefore, general results for the secondary purpose did
not support my hypothesis that BMI, then internalization of the aesthetic ideal, and
finally body satisfaction would predict posttest mood scores.
My results failed to corroborate research findings that have shown that BMI serves
as a predictor of body dissatisfaction (Hausenblas & Fallon, 2002; Sands & Wardle,
2003). The Caucasian women reported a lower BMI (M~= 23.24, SD = 3.10) than the
African-American women (M~= 25.36, SD = 5.77); while the Caucasian women' s BMI
was in the normal weight range (i.e., the women are not overweight or obese), the
African-American women's BMI was in the overweight range (ACSM, 2000). A one-
sample t-test indicated that the average body satisfaction score for Caucasian women (M\~
= 27. 16, SD = 6. 10) did not differ significantly from the normative mean score of 29.07 [t
(30) = -1.74, p = .09]. Similarly, the average score for the African-American women (M\~
= 28.61, SD = 6.04) did not significantly differ from the normative mean of 29.07 [t (28)
=-.41, p = .69]. However, this suggests that college-age women may be dissatisfied with
their bodies regardless of their BMI. This also supports the research that even though
African-American women have higher BMI scores than Caucasian women, they are
generally more satisfied with their bodies and may even prefer a fuller shape and a
shapelier figure (Altabe, 1998; Cash & Henry, 1995; Miller et al., 2000; Ofosu et al.,
Researchers have also found that internalization serves as a predictor of body image
and the media (Cusumano and Thompson, 1997; Thompson & Heinberg, 1999;
Thompson et al., 1999). Specifically, women reporting higher internalization experienced
increased levels of depression and anger after viewing appearance-related media. My
findings, however, do not support this literature. Although the internalization scale that I
used (i.e., Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-Revised) did measure the socioculturally
endorsed views of the ideal woman, it may not have sufficiently tapped into
internalization of the media ideal. Thus, use of a different scale is warranted; the 38-item
Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire-3 (SATAQ-3; Thompson,
Van den Berg, Roehrig, Guarda, & Heinberg, 2004) has a subscale that measures social
comparison and internalization of TV/magazine, comparison, and athletics.
Several other limitations existed within this experiment that must also be
considered when interpreting the results. First, the mass media ideal photos were taken
from well-known magazines that have an established popularity, and therefore are
representative of what the media portrays as ideal. The control photos, on the other hand,
were from plus-size catalogues. Many women commented that "I hope I look that healthy
when I am that age," which showed that they did not identify with the pictures. The
average age of the participants in this study was 19, but based on a visual examination the
women in the control pictures were in their late 20- early 30s. Despite extensive searches,
I could not find pictures of women in their late teens- early 20s with an equivalent shape
and size of the average women; furthermore, it was difficult to find pictures of average
women (size 10-12), regardless of the age.
Second, although I based the number of slides on the meta-analysis conducted by
Groesz and colleagues (2002), there was no stipulation for the amount of time that each
slide was to be viewed. Each slide was viewed for 15 seconds, producing a 2 minute 15
second exposure to the media ideal. Thus, there may not have been enough viewing time
included for the media images to produce increases in anxiety, depression, or anger.
Third, all of the pictures in the slide conditions were of Caucasian women, which
may be a study confound. A confound variable is a variable that can cause or prevent the
outcome of interest, is not an intermediate variable, and is associated with the factor
under investigation. Although I can make some inferences, I do not know if the
participants' moods were changing as a result of the ethnicity of the pictures in the slide
condition or if their moods were changing as a result of viewing pictures with people in
them in general.
Possible future studies can manipulate different variables in the design to examine
similar moderating effects of ethnicity. For example, in addition to the slide conditions
that I used (i.e., Caucasian models and Caucasian controls), I would add two additional
slide conditions: African-American models and African-American controls (i.e. average
women). Another manipulation in a future study would be to add an additional neutral
slide condition (e.g., non-body image related people, head shots, children, or non-people
photos). A study 2 could use the same design as this study, but with both slide conditions
containing pictures of only African-American women. Also, control pictures (i.e., the
"average" woman) that represent a college-age population are needed.
Fourth, as mentioned above in the primary purpose, a floor effect was seen in the
Mood Visual Analog Scales. Specifically, the women's anger did not show significant
change from pre to posttest. If a participant were at or close to "No Anger," there is little
room for improvement. In general, the Mood Visual Analog Scales are anchored from No
Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Body Dissatisfaction to Worst Possible Anxiety, Depression,
Anger, Body Dissatisfaction. Therefore, research should look into creating and using
visual analog scales that assess a full positive to negative spectrum of moods. Other
validated measures could be used to assess more moods, for example, the State-Trait
Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Speilberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, & Jacobs, 1983), which
assesses cognitive aspects of state anxiety, or the 65-item Profile of Mood States (POMS;
McNair, Lorr, & Droppleman, 1971), which also assesses mood using six subscales of
tension, fatigue, vigor, anger, confusion, and depression.
Fifth, self-report may often result in measurement errors (Sallis & Owen, 1998), for
example if participants unconsciously misrepresent their moods. Additionally, the social
desirability aspect of self-report may occur when women who do not wish to be
suspected of body-image disturbance are motivated to give more socially acceptable
answers for the Body Areas Satisfaction Scale and the Ideal Body Stereotyping Scale-
Revised. The variability presented by self-report questionnaires can be decreased in
future research by holding clinical interviews for all participants. Social desirability can
be assessed using a more obj ective measure such as the Marlow-Crowne Social
Desirability Scale (MCSDS; Crowne & Marlowe, 1964).
Finally, caution is warranted when attempting to generalize the study findings to
other populations. The study participants ranged in age from 18 to 23, were obtained
from a University setting, and only represented Caucasian women and African-American
women. Thus, generalizations of the study findings to other populations such as older
women, men, other ethnic minorities (e.g., Hispanics and Asians), and women who are
clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder are limited. Thus, future researchers are
encouraged to examine the media influences of the ideal physique with these populations.
In conclusion, this study supports findings that body-image dissatisfaction
increased with acute exposure (two minutes) to ideal physique images. It seems that
women identify and compare themselves to ideal images, especially if the ideals are
closer (even if only by skin color) to their own appearance. Specifically, my results imply
that the Caucasian women were comparing themselves to the pictures they viewed, thus
changing their posttest moods. Therefore, more realistic models, that portray a broader
array of body sizes and shapes in visual mass media, are needed (Irving, 1990, 2001).
Future research should look to create prevention programs and treatment programs that
educate women about the mass media and the societal pressure it exerts about the ideal
physique (Irving, 2001; Levine & Smolak, 1996).
Institttional Review Board
98A Psychology Bldg.
PO Box 112250
Gainesil, FL 32611-2250
Phone: (352) 392-0433
Fax: (352) 392-9234
PO Box 118207
C. Michael Lvy, Chair CA~ L/1-p'
University of Florida
Institutional Rieview Board
SUBJECT: Respproval of 1Protocol #2002-U-134
The Influence of Ethnicity on the Media Effects of Body Image
Your request to continue your research protocol involving human participants has been approved. Participants
are not placed at more than minimal risk by the research. You are reminded that any changes, including the
need to increase the number of partcipants authorized, must be approved by resubmission of the protocol to the
Respproval of this protocol extends for one year from the date of the review, the maximum duration permitted
by the Office for Human Research Protection. If this project will not be completed by 20-Feb-2004, please
telephone our office (392-0433).at least six weeks in advance so we can advise you how to reapply.
It is important that you keep your Department Chair informed about the status of this research project. Also, if
your project is funded, you should send a request to extend your grant along wilth a copy of this project renewal
notification to DSR, Awards Adminis~tration, P.O. Box 115500.
Vice President for Research
To: Volunteers for the Mass Media Ideals Study
From: Dr. Heather Hausenblas and Ninoska DeBraganza
RE: Informed Consent
The purpose of this statement is to summarize the study we are conducting, explain what
we are asking you to do, and assure you that all participants in the study will be assigned
a coded number; individuals will not be identified by name but by the assigned code
number. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. All data
will be treated in strict confidence and will be locked in a filing cabinet in the Exercise
Psychology Laboratory in Room 145, Florida Gymnasium.
Dr. Hausenblas is an Assistant Professor in Exercise Psychology and Ninoska
DeBraganza is a Master' s student in Exercise Psychology at the University of Florida.
We are interested in examining the role of the mass media in body image. This study will
involve three parts. In the first part, you will be asked to complete a series of
questionnaires that will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. If you are selected
for participation in the remainder of the study, you will be asked to return to the Exercise
Psychology Laboratory for Parts 2 and 3. Parts 2 and 3 are identical in their procedure,
but Part 3 will occur approximately one week later than Part 2. Part 2 and Part 3 will take
approximately 30 minutes each to compete. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire,
to view a series of pictures, and fill out an additional questionnaire. You are free to
discontinue your involvement in the study at any time without consequence. If at any
time you do not wish to continue with the study, you will be free to withdraw from
participation. There are minimal risks involved with participating in the study. Viewing
the series of pictures may result in minor temporary increases in negative mood. The
benefits associated with the study include a better understanding of the role of the mass
media in the development of body image issues.
Your participation is voluntary, but it is hoped that you will agree to take part in this
study. Without the cooperation of volunteers, proj ects of this type would not be possible.
Please ask any questions that you may have at this time, and if you have any additional
questions or concerns during the course of the study, please contact Dr. Hausenblas (392-
0584 ext. 1292) or Ninoska DeBraganza (392-0580 ext. 1367). If you have any questions
or concerns about your rights as a research participant, you may contact the University of
Florida Institutional Review Board at Box 1 12250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
32611-2250, or call (352) 392-0433.
If you have no further questions at this time, and if you agree to volunteer to become
involved in this study, please read the following statement and sign your name in the
signature blank below.
I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the
procedure, and I have received a copy of this description.
Principal Investigator's Signature:
IDEAL BODY STEREOTYPING SCALE-REVISED
Please circle the response that reflects your agreement strongly disagree neutral agree strongly
with these statements: disagree agree
1. Slim women are more attractive ... . . .. ..1 2 3 4 5
2. Tall women are more attractive. ... . . .. ..1 2 3 4 5
3. Women with toned bodies are more attractive .. .. .. . .. 2 3 4 5
4. Women who are in shape are more attractive. .. .. .. .. .. ..1 2 3 4 5
5. Slender women are more attractive. .. .. .. . .. .1 2 3 4 5
6. Women with long legs are more attractive .. .. .. .. .. .. ..1 2 3 4 5
7. Curvy women are more attractive. ... . . ..1 2 3 4 5
8. Shapely women are more attractive ... .. .. . .. .1 2 3 4 5
BODY-AREAS SATISFACTION SCALE
Instructions. The following statements pertain to how people might think, feel, or
behave. Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which each item relates to
you personally. Please place your answer in the blank space provided after each
1 2 3 4 5
Very Mostly Neither satisfied Mostly Very
Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Nor Dissatisfied Satisfied Satisfied
1. Face (facial features, complexion)
2. Hair (color, thickness, texture)
3. Lower torso (buttocks, hips, thighs, legs)_
4. Mid torso (waist, stomach)
5. Upper torso (chest/breasts, shoulders, arms)~
6. Muscle tone
9. Overall appearance
MOOD VISUAL ANALOG SCALE
Instructions: Please draw a vertical line perpendicularly across the horizontal line at the
location that best describes how you feel right now for each of the 4 questions below.
No Body Dissatisfaction
Di ssati sfacti on
1. View each picture
2. Indicate whether you think the picture depicts a
"mass media ideal" (MMI)
control (C) or
3. If you chose MMI or C, then indicate the response that reflects your agreement with
the following statement:
This picture accurately portrays a [MMI or Control].
Instructions. Please rate the following question on the scale provided below.
1. How representative of your current ideal body were the pictures you just viewed
Not at all Moderately Extremely
representative representative representative
1 2 3 4 5
Please explain your answer below in as much detail as possible. For example, if you had
circled a 3, please explain why you thought the pictures were only moderately
representative of your ideal body.
2. What do you consider to be the ideal physique?
Originally, you were told that the title of this study was "Body Image and the Mass
Media". This is true, but the study also investigated the effects of ethnicity on body
dissatisfaction and mood. By this we mean that the slide show contained pictures of only
Caucasian women. This information was intentionally kept from you so you would be more likely
to respond freely to the questions.
Because we kept the full purpose of the study from you, we would like to confirm that we
have your permission to use your data. If so, you may sign the "YES" line. If you do not wish us
to use your data, you may sign the "NO" line and take your data sheets with you when you leave
the laboratory. No matter which line you sign, you will be given your extra course credit or phone
I understand that the purpose of this study was to better understand the effects of
ethnicity on mood (i.e., anger, depression, and anxiety) as well as body dissatisfaction.
Additionally, I know that I have the choice to agree to allow the researchers to use my
data or take it with me when I leave. Whichever choice I make, I will still receive my extra course
credit or 60-minute phone card.
YES, I will allow the researchers to use my data.
NO, I will not allow the researchers to use my data. (Please take data sheets with you.)
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Ninoska DeBraganza was born in India and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She
attended Pine Crest School for 13 years in Ft. Lauderdale. Upon graduation in 1997, she
chose the University of Florida for her undergraduate studies and graduated in 2001 with
a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in classical studies. After
completing her master' s degree specializing in sport and exercise psychology, she plans
to obtain her third degree, a Ph.D. in clinical and health psychology, at the University of