The effect of thin-ideal media on body image an experiment using the Solomon four-group design

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Roger N. Reeb


In general, research suggests that exposure to thin-ideal media has a negative effect on the body image of women, but there are some contradictory findings in the empirical literature. One possible reason for contradictory findings is that there are inconsistencies across studies with regard to which specific dimension of body image is assessed. In the present study, this methodological problem was addressed by employing a multidimensional assessment of the body image construct. First, the study aimed to demonstrate that body image becomes more negative after viewing thin-ideal media, and second, that this change occurs across all dimensions of body image. Limited support was found for the first hypothesis, and the second hypothesis was not supported. Another problem in existing research is the failure to rule out the possibility that changes in body image after exposure to thin-ideal media are somewhat due to pre-test sensitization effects. This study attempted to identify pre-test sensitization effects by utilizing the Solomon Four-Group Design and a post-experimental inquiry. The third and fourth hypotheses were that after controlling for pre-test sensitization effects, there would still be evidence of the negative effect of thin-ideal media on body image, and change would remain evident across all dimensions assessed. Due to the lack of significant results in this study, these hypotheses could not be examined in full. Results of the post-experimental inquiry indicated that most participants were aware of the general purpose of the study, but this did not influence the impact of thin-ideal media exposure on changes in body image. This study exemplifies the discrepancies in existing body image literature, and highlights the need for continued research that addresses contradictory findings for the effect of thin-ideal media on dimensions of body image. Limitations and recommendations for the future are presented.


Body image in women In mass media, Body image disturbance, Mass media and women

Rights Statement

Copyright 2012, author