Media Influences on College Women's Attitudes Toward Weight and Body Image

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Paul, Stephanie Ann Porter
ETD; Media Influences; College women; Weight; Body Image; Eating disorders; Psychology; Legacy ETDs
thesis / dissertation description
The influences on young women today to be thin are demonstrated time and time again in the American media. These influences could possibly be contributing factors in the incidence of eating disorders among adolescent and college women. The present study proposed that the immediate effects of these influences could be measured within moments of exposure to a media source which advocates thinness as the "ideal" of feminine beauty in our society. It was hypothesized that subjects exposed to such media influences would demonstrate a lower satisfaction with their self-control, self-perceived body appearance, and self-perceived body functioning. The subscales of Self-Control, Body Appearance, and Body functioning from the Multidimensional Self-Esteem Inventory (MSEI) (O'Brian & Epstein, 1988) were used to measure the effects of viewing Sports Illustrated's video, Behind the Scenes: 1992 Swimsuit Edition (Froemke & Maysles, 1992), on 72 college women. The media influenced group, the experimental group in this study, viewed a combination of Kenya Safari (Weiss, 1987) and the Sports Illustrated video. The non-media influenced groups, the control groups in this study, viewed either the safari video or no video at all. The subscales were evenly distributed in the form of two questionnaires: one given as a pre-test exposure to the experimental treatment and the other given as a post-test after the exposure to the treatments. The potential effects of race were taken into consideration due to a significant difference among the subjects. A t-test found that there was not a significant difference between African American and Caucasian subjects on scores of Self-Control, Body Appearance, and Body Functioning. A one-way Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was conducted to see if there were any differences among the three conditions in the study. No significant differences were found among the three groups: experimental with video, control with video, and control without video. However, further research to investigate the long-term effects of the media on women's body image is warranted.