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The Effect of “Thin Ideal” Television Commercials on Body Dissatisfaction and Schema Activation During Early Adolescence

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of viewing televised images of female attractiveness on the body dissatisfaction of young adolescent girls and boys. Adolescents (160 females and 197 males) aged 13–15 years viewed either 20 commercials containing idealized female thin images or 20 nonappearance television commercials. Body dissatisfaction was measured before (Time 1), immediately following (Time 2), and 15 min after (Time 3) commercial viewing. Appearance-schema activation was assessed using a word-stem completion task. Girls, but not boys, who viewed the appearance commercials reported significantly higher body dissatisfaction at both Times 2 and 3 compared with the nonappearance condition. Participant age had no effect. Both girls and boys in the appearance condition reported greater schema activation, but appearance schematicity did not moderate the commercial effect. The results support the general hypothesis that televised images of attractiveness lead to increased body dissatisfaction and schema activation for girls as young as 13 years old.

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Correspondence to Duane Hargreaves.

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Hargreaves, D., Tiggemann, M. The Effect of “Thin Ideal” Television Commercials on Body Dissatisfaction and Schema Activation During Early Adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 32, 367–373 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024974015581

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  • mass media
  • thin ideal sociocultural influences
  • appearance schemas
  • body dissatisfaction