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Effect of Thin vs. Plus-Size Models: A Comparison of Body Image Ideals by Gender
Unformatted Document Text:  Ideal Body Image, 13 could result in a shift toward a heavier actual as found by Lavine, Sweeny, and Wagner (1999), which would be in line with body dissatisfaction and negative affect induced by social comparisons. However, Myers and Biocca (1992) found the reverse effect. The thin models reinforced self-image resulting in a thinner than actual perception. They also responded with reduced depression-related emotions. Hence, taking into account these two conflicting findings, we expected the effects of social comparison to be more evident in the thin models condition than in the plus- models condition. However, we did not hypothesize a direction for the effect. Experiment 1 Design and Participants Participants were 243 undergraduate (127 female, 116 male) students, who took part in the study for extra credit in an introductory communication course. The students ranged in age from 17 to 49 (M = 20.8, SD = 3.0). Majority of the sample was single (97.7%) and reported their race as Caucasian (80.4%). The average body mass index (BMI) for the sample was 23.2 (SD = 3.7), which is within the normal BMI range of 19 to 25. The key experimental manipulation was the random assignment of participants to one of the two stimulus conditions. In one condition, participants saw thin fashion models and in the other they saw plus-size fashion models. Stimuli We began with a sample of 33 ads portraying thin, average, and plus size models. The ads were chosen from fashion magazines, apparel catalogs, and plus-size apparel catalogs. Each ad featured a full-body portrayal of only one female model. In a pilot test,

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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Ideal Body Image, 13
could result in a shift toward a heavier actual as found by Lavine, Sweeny, and Wagner
(1999), which would be in line with body dissatisfaction and negative affect induced by
social comparisons. However, Myers and Biocca (1992) found the reverse effect. The
thin models reinforced self-image resulting in a thinner than actual perception. They also
responded with reduced depression-related emotions.
Hence, taking into account these two conflicting findings, we expected the effects
of social comparison to be more evident in the thin models condition than in the plus-
models condition. However, we did not hypothesize a direction for the effect.
Experiment 1
Design and Participants
Participants were 243 undergraduate (127 female, 116 male) students, who took
part in the study for extra credit in an introductory communication course. The students
ranged in age from 17 to 49 (M = 20.8, SD = 3.0). Majority of the sample was single
(97.7%) and reported their race as Caucasian (80.4%). The average body mass index
(BMI) for the sample was 23.2 (SD = 3.7), which is within the normal BMI range of 19
to 25.
The key experimental manipulation was the random assignment of participants to
one of the two stimulus conditions. In one condition, participants saw thin fashion models
and in the other they saw plus-size fashion models.
Stimuli
We began with a sample of 33 ads portraying thin, average, and plus size models.
The ads were chosen from fashion magazines, apparel catalogs, and plus-size apparel
catalogs. Each ad featured a full-body portrayal of only one female model. In a pilot test,


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