Facebook is Linked to Body Dissatisfaction: Comparing Users and Non-Users
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Growing media consumption and emerging forms of social media such as Facebook allow for unprecedented appearance-based social comparison with peers, family, and the wider media. We hypothesise that, for adult men and women, body dissatisfaction is related to peer-based media just as it is to traditional media forms. We expect that middle-aged women in particular are a vulnerable population, due to increasing pressure to conform to youthful beauty standards. In a national sample of New Zealand adults collected in 2012 (N = 11,017), we test the cross-sectional links between being a Facebook user and body satisfaction for men and women across age cohorts. Using a Bayesian regression model testing curvilinear effects of age, we show that having and using a Facebook profile is associated with poorer body satisfaction for both men and women, and across all ages. For women who use Facebook, a U-shaped curvilinear relationship was found between age and body satisfaction; thus the gap between non-users and users in body satisfaction was exacerbated among middle-aged women. A possible cohort effect also indicated that young women tend to be lower in body satisfaction overall. These findings add to the extant literature by suggesting that new media exposure may be associated with lower body satisfaction for some populations more than others, and emphasise the importance of examining body satisfaction in older populations.
KeywordsFacebook Social media Body dissatisfaction Cohort effects Body image
This research was supported by a Templeton World Charity Foundation Grant (ID: 0077). This research forms part of the first author’s PhD thesis, supervised by Chris Sibley.
Mplus syntax for the models reported here have been posted on the NZAVS website. www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/NZAVS.
The data reported in this study were collected as part of the NZAVS. The NZAVS is reviewed every 3 years by the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee. Our most recent ethics approval statement is as follows: The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study was approved by The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee on 17-February-2012 until 09-September-2015. Reference Number: 6171. All participants gave written consent. Participants provided consent when completing the questionnaire, in their own time, and in their own space. The study was conducted in accordance with the principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki.
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