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Effects of Ideal Body Images--Translatable Across Gender and Culture?
Unformatted Document Text:  17 Compared to women, body beauty is considered even less relevant for Chinese men, which probably explains why male participants in our study experienced an enhanced effect in body image evaluation. In other words, we may be seeing an assimilation effect in social comparison theory, which refers to positive self-evaluation in upward comparison, in which male participants viewed themselves as a part of the group to which the comparison target belong. In this case, they don’t think the ideal body images as an out-group and that they may be able to attain such body images. Consequentially, they may be internalizing the success of the comparison target—the ideal models—as one of their own. After all, the majority of Chinese are not overweight (Popkin & Zhai, 1995). Comparing to the US population in which almost a large portion of the population is overweight (Flegal, 1996), achieving a muscular body for an average- built Chinese may not be so difficult. As an exploratory attempt, we measured the cross-sex effects in this study. However, the results indicated that Chinese college students’ evaluation of body image and self-esteem were not influenced by exposure to idealized body images of the opposite sex in advertisements, which might suggest that cross-sex effect is not an influential factor as far as body image is concerned in the Chinese case. We did not find any significant difference in self-esteem, either in same sex or cross-sex effects. Two reasons may be possible. First, self-esteem is a relatively long- term effect that may not be easily changed in an experiment; second, self-esteem is a larger psychological construct than body image. The manipulated effect may not be strong enough to affect the perception of self-esteem, which is composed of many dimensions including material possession and quality of life, other than body esteem.

Authors: Xue, Fei., Zhou, Shuhua. and Zhou, Peiqin.
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17
Compared to women, body beauty is considered even less relevant for Chinese
men, which probably explains why male participants in our study experienced an
enhanced effect in body image evaluation. In other words, we may be seeing an
assimilation effect in social comparison theory, which refers to positive self-evaluation in
upward comparison, in which male participants viewed themselves as a part of the group
to which the comparison target belong. In this case, they don’t think the ideal body
images as an out-group and that they may be able to attain such body images.
Consequentially, they may be internalizing the success of the comparison target—the
ideal models—as one of their own. After all, the majority of Chinese are not overweight
(Popkin & Zhai, 1995). Comparing to the US population in which almost a large portion
of the population is overweight (Flegal, 1996), achieving a muscular body for an average-
built Chinese may not be so difficult.
As an exploratory attempt, we measured the cross-sex effects in this study.
However, the results indicated that Chinese college students’ evaluation of body image
and self-esteem were not influenced by exposure to idealized body images of the opposite
sex in advertisements, which might suggest that cross-sex effect is not an influential
factor as far as body image is concerned in the Chinese case.
We did not find any significant difference in self-esteem, either in same sex or
cross-sex effects. Two reasons may be possible. First, self-esteem is a relatively long-
term effect that may not be easily changed in an experiment; second, self-esteem is a
larger psychological construct than body image. The manipulated effect may not be
strong enough to affect the perception of self-esteem, which is composed of many
dimensions including material possession and quality of life, other than body esteem.


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