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Consequences of exposure to the thin ideal in mass media depend on moderators in young women: An experimental study


Abstract

This study examined the consequences of media exposure to thin ideals compared to pictures of landscapes in healthy young women and women with eating and mixed mental disorders and investigated whether appearance-related cognitive factors and cognitive distortions moderate the effects. Two hundred seventy-five women in a multisite laboratory trial (174 in- or outpatients and 101 healthy women; Mage 22.87 years, SD = 3.94) were exposed to either thin ideals or to landscape pictures and guided through a vivid imagery of these pictures thereafter. Changes in body image dissatisfaction, mood, eating behavior, and physiological markers were assessed. After thin ideal exposure and even more after guided imagery, women’s body image dissatisfaction increased and mood declined. The effect on mood was most pronounced in women with eating disorders, less in women with mixed disorders, and smallest in healthy controls. No effects were found on physiological measures. Higher values of appearance-related cognitive factors moderated the effect of thin ideal exposure and guided imagery on all psychological outcomes. Cognitive distortions moderated the effect of thin ideal exposure and guided imagery on mood. Findings indicate an overall susceptibility to viewing thin ideal pictures in magazines in young and especially in women with eating disorders. Though exposure in the laboratory resulted in psychological effects, it did not lead to a physiological stress response. The impact of thin ideal exposure on mood is in line with affect-regulation models in eating disorders, with appearance-related cognitive factors and cognitive distortions potentially accelerating such effects. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Abstract

This study examined the consequences of media exposure to thin ideals compared to pictures of landscapes in healthy young women and women with eating and mixed mental disorders and investigated whether appearance-related cognitive factors and cognitive distortions moderate the effects. Two hundred seventy-five women in a multisite laboratory trial (174 in- or outpatients and 101 healthy women; Mage 22.87 years, SD = 3.94) were exposed to either thin ideals or to landscape pictures and guided through a vivid imagery of these pictures thereafter. Changes in body image dissatisfaction, mood, eating behavior, and physiological markers were assessed. After thin ideal exposure and even more after guided imagery, women’s body image dissatisfaction increased and mood declined. The effect on mood was most pronounced in women with eating disorders, less in women with mixed disorders, and smallest in healthy controls. No effects were found on physiological measures. Higher values of appearance-related cognitive factors moderated the effect of thin ideal exposure and guided imagery on all psychological outcomes. Cognitive distortions moderated the effect of thin ideal exposure and guided imagery on mood. Findings indicate an overall susceptibility to viewing thin ideal pictures in magazines in young and especially in women with eating disorders. Though exposure in the laboratory resulted in psychological effects, it did not lead to a physiological stress response. The impact of thin ideal exposure on mood is in line with affect-regulation models in eating disorders, with appearance-related cognitive factors and cognitive distortions potentially accelerating such effects. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Klinik für Konsiliarpsychiatrie und Psychosomatik
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Life Sciences > Biological Psychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords:Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry and Mental health, Biological Psychiatry
Language:English
Date:1 July 2021
Deposited On:10 Jan 2022 06:42
Last Modified:26 Jun 2024 01:48
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0021-843X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000676
PubMed ID:34472886
Project Information:
  • : FunderSwiss National Science Foundation
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  • : FunderGerman Research Foundation
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  • : FunderSwiss Anorexia Nervosa Foundation
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  • : FunderUniversity of Fribourg
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