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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, 8 idealized body shape that few can strive for and even fewer can achieve, then over time, the ideal could become more realistic. Hence, we hypothesized that when social comparisons to plus size models are evoked, a shift in the perceived ideal is likely to occur. However, because social comparison to a woman’s ideal is not relevant to men and also because the Heinberg and Thompson (1992) found no correlation between social comparison and men’s own body image indices, effect on men warrants further examination. Social Judgment Biases about Body Image Norms Gender biases in perceptions of body image social norms are documented in the literature. Using a visual, body shape estimation scale designed by Stunkard, Sorenson, and Schulsinger (1983), Rozin and Fallon (1988) found that young women systematically overestimated men’s preference for a thin female ideal, whereas young men overestimated women’s preference for a heavier and muscular male ideal. When the mothers and fathers of the same college students were given the visual estimation task, both overestimated the other gender’s preference for the thin ideal. Also, mothers, fathers, and daughters sought a significantly thinner ideal than their current weight, with the exception of sons, for whom the current and ideal were not significantly different. These results represent a signature pattern of a particular class of biases called pluralistic ignorance (Miller and Prentice, 1994), which is characterized by the assumption that one’s individual norm is different from the collective social norm. How does one account for perceived differences in the self-ideal and the group ideal? In this case, the explanations offered by Miller and Prentice (1994) could be applied. At the most basic level, the effect could be interpreted as a minority-enforced

Authors: Prabu, David., Liu, Kaiya. and Cortese, Juliann.
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Ideal Body Image, 8
idealized body shape that few can strive for and even fewer can achieve, then over time,
the ideal could become more realistic. Hence, we hypothesized that when social
comparisons to plus size models are evoked, a shift in the perceived ideal is likely to
occur. However, because social comparison to a woman’s ideal is not relevant to men and
also because the Heinberg and Thompson (1992) found no correlation between social
comparison and men’s own body image indices, effect on men warrants further
examination.
Social Judgment Biases about Body Image Norms
Gender biases in perceptions of body image social norms are documented in the
literature. Using a visual, body shape estimation scale designed by Stunkard, Sorenson,
and Schulsinger (1983), Rozin and Fallon (1988) found that young women systematically
overestimated men’s preference for a thin female ideal, whereas young men
overestimated women’s preference for a heavier and muscular male ideal. When the
mothers and fathers of the same college students were given the visual estimation task,
both overestimated the other gender’s preference for the thin ideal. Also, mothers,
fathers, and daughters sought a significantly thinner ideal than their current weight, with
the exception of sons, for whom the current and ideal were not significantly different.
These results represent a signature pattern of a particular class of biases called pluralistic
ignorance (Miller and Prentice, 1994), which is characterized by the assumption that
one’s individual norm is different from the collective social norm.
How does one account for perceived differences in the self-ideal and the group
ideal? In this case, the explanations offered by Miller and Prentice (1994) could be
applied. At the most basic level, the effect could be interpreted as a minority-enforced


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