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Understanding the impact of thin media models on women’s body-focused affect: the roles of thin-ideal internalization and weight-related self-discrepancy activation in experimental exposure effects

By Helga Dittmar, Emma Halliwell and Emma Stirling


Previous experimental research demonstrates that exposure to ultra-thin media models has negative effects on many women's body image, but neglects underlying psychological processes. We develop and test a moderated mediation model with internalization of the thin beauty ideal as moderator, and activation of weight-related self-discrepancies as mediating mechanism through which exposure leads to heightened body-focused negative affect. We demonstrate that thin-internalizers' higher negative affect after exposure to advertisements featuring thin models is fully mediated by weight-related self-discrepancy activation (N = 87; Study 1). These findings replicate in a larger sample of women (N = 155; Study 2) and hold regardless of whether or not thin models' body size was emphasized during exposure. Implications for interventions are discussed

Publisher: Guilford Press
Year: 2009
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