Psychological Studies

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 61–69 | Cite as

Media Exposure Predicts Body Satisfaction: The Moderating Role of Appearance Comparison

  • Elizabeth N. Dougherty
  • Ross Krawczyk
Research in Progress


Physical appearance comparison may make individuals more susceptible to the detrimental effects of brief media exposure on body satisfaction. However, it is unclear whether these findings would also extend to chronic media exposure in everyday life. In addition, it is unknown whether the role of appearance comparison relative to media and body dissatisfaction differs between genders. This study examined trait physical appearance comparison as a moderator of the relationships between television and Internet exposure and appearance evaluation and body area satisfaction. Male (n = 137) and female (n = 335) undergraduates completed self-report measures of trait physical appearance comparison, television and Internet consumption, appearance evaluation, and body area satisfaction. Among women, appearance comparison moderated the relationship between television exposure and appearance evaluation, such that those who engaged in more appearance comparison and viewed more television had a more negative evaluation of their appearance. Among men, appearance comparison moderated the relationship between Internet use and body area dissatisfaction, such that those who engaged in more appearance comparison and spent a significant amount of time on the Internet had greater body area dissatisfaction. These results suggest that appearance comparison represents a vulnerability for experiencing body dissatisfaction from media exposure, contingent on media format and gender.


Body image Media Body dissatisfaction Appearance comparison 


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Albright, J. M. (2008). Sex in American online: An exploration of sex, marital status, and sexual identity in internet sex seeking and its impacts. Journal of Sex Research, 45, 175–186. Scholar
  3. Barlett, C. P., Vowels, C. L., & Saucier, D. A. (2008). Meta-analyses of the effects of media images on men’s body-image concerns. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27, 279–310. Scholar
  4. Brown, T. A., Cash, T. F., & Mikulka, P. J. (1990). Attitudinal body-image assessment: Factor analysis of the body-self relations questionnaire. Journal of Personality Assessment, 55, 135–144. Scholar
  5. Cash, T. F., & Smolak, L. (Eds.). (2011). Body image: A handbook of science, practice, and prevention. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P. C., Vartanian, L. R., & Halliwell, E. (2015). Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. Body Image, 13, 38–45. Scholar
  7. Ferguson, C. J. (2013). In the eye of the beholder: Thin-ideal media affects some, but not most, viewers in a meta-analytic review of body dissatisfaction in women and men. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2, 20–37. Scholar
  8. Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117–140. Scholar
  9. Galioto, R., & Crowther, J. H. (2013). The effects of exposure to slender and muscular images on male body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 10, 566–573. Scholar
  10. Grabe, S., Ward, L. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2008). The role of media in body image concerns among women: A meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 460–476. Scholar
  11. Groesz, L. M., Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2002). The effect of experimental presentation of thin media images on body satisfaction. A meta-analytic review. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 1–16. Scholar
  12. Jones, D. C. (2001). Social comparison and body image: Attractiveness comparisons to models and peers among adolescent girls and boys. Sex Roles, 45, 645–664. Scholar
  13. Krawczyk, R., & Thompson, K. J. (2015). The effects of advertisements that sexually objectify women on state body dissatisfaction and judgments of women: The moderating roles of gender and internalization. Body Image, 15, 109–119. Scholar
  14. Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2009). “Everybody knows that mass media are/are not [pick one] a cause of eating disorders”: A critical review of evidence for a causal link between media, negative body image, and disordered eating in females. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 9–42. Scholar
  15. Mulgrew, K. E., Johnson, L. M., Lane, B. R., & Katsikitis, M. (2014). The effect of aesthetic versus process images on men’s body satisfaction. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 15, 452–459. Scholar
  16. Myers, T. A., & Crowther, J. H. (2009). Social comparison as a predictor of body dissatisfaction: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 683–698. Scholar
  17. Strahan, E. J., Wilson, A. E., Cressman, K. E., & Buote, V. M. (2006). Comparing to perfection: How cultural norms for appearance affect social comparisons and self-image. Body Image, 3, 211–227. Scholar
  18. Thompson, J. K., Heinberg, L., Altabe, M., & Tanleff-Dunn, S. (1999). Exacting beauty: Theory, assessment, and treatment of body image disturbance. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Scholar
  19. Thompson, J. K., Heinberg, L. J., & Tantleff, S. (1991). The physical appearance comparison scales (PACS). The Behavior Therapist, 14, 174. Retrieved from
  20. Tiggemann, M., & Miller, J. (2010). The Internet and adolescent girls’ weight satisfaction and drive for thinness. Sex Roles, 63, 79–90. Scholar
  21. Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2013). NetGirls: The Internet, Facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46, 630–633. Scholar
  22. Tylka, T. L. (2015). No harm in looking, right? Men’s pornography consumption, body image, and well-being. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 16, 97–107. Scholar
  23. Yaemsiri, S., Slining, M. M., & Agarwal, S. K. (2011). Perceived weight status, overweight diagnosis, and weight control among US adults: The NHANES 2003–2008 study. International Journal of Obesity, 35, 1063–1070. Scholar

Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe College of Saint RoseAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyIllinois Institute of TechnologyChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations