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Media Exposure and the Subsequent Effects on Body Dissatisfaction: A Review of the Current Research Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 5th, 2021

Introduction

Review of the effect of media on eating disorder symptoms of women has been a topic well researched. Cohen tries to undertake a qualitative study that may demonstrate the researches that have been conducted in this field and what were their findings. She limits her study to researches conducted after 1990.

Description of the study

Cohen supports her study based on social psychology-driven explanation and media-driven explanation. The former states individuals tend to compare themselves with others. This may be a downward comparison that results from sin heightened self-esteem and upward and upward comparison which leads to increased depression and lowering of self-worth. Since celebrity images become easy referrals, they become objects of upward comparison and results in eating disorders due to highly thin media depicted models. The later, cultivation theory, states that the unrealistic television-related world and exposure to such form of media “cultivates” create beliefs and desires equivalent to the media depicted world. So this suggests that people who have a greater degree of exposure to television will have attitudes that reflect media realities.

Hence through both the studies, Cohen asserts that media will have an attitudinal influence on viewers. And based on this, Cohen hypothesizes that there exists a positive relationship between the level of exposure to media and a) higher desire of becoming thin, b) a higher degree of eating disorder, and c) stronger internalization of the thin ideal.

To come to a conclusion of the hypothesis Cohen conducts a literature study based on which she first studies the primary variable which includes eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, and drive to thinness. These primary variables were studied in light of independent variables such as sex, age, culture, and race which make one group more prone to media-related disorders than the others. Cohen tries to find out why such a difference occurs.

Cohen’s study shows that females have a ten-fold tendency of developing an eating disorder than men. Further, Cohen finds that research has proven that the three types of disorder are more likely to be found among white females. The argument that some researchers put forth is due to the lack of depiction of skinny black women in media. As far age is concerned, Cohen’s study shows that these problems become more acute with high school and college female students, within the age group of 21 to 27 years. In terms of culture and media’s effect researches reviewed by Cohen did not provide any significant conclusion.

Cohen then studies personal moderators which makes the problem even more acute. Personal-schema, which means, the perception girls have of their body image and their ideal body image. When the gap in the two images is high, higher will be the dissatisfaction among them regarding their figure and ultimately lead them to become thin by any means. Initial body dissatisfaction had a positive relation between degrees of dissatisfaction shown by the girls after viewing the pictures of fashion models. Cohen’s study also reveals that women, who practice restrained eating, have lower appearance self-esteem and vice versa.

Conclusion

Study shows that media is a prime stimulus which brings about a desire among women who have a higher degree of exposure to mass media for excessive thinness syndrome.

References

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Cohen, S. “Media Exposure and the Subsequent Effects on Body Dissatisfaction, Disordered Eating, and Drive for Thinness: A Review of the Current Research” Mind Matters: The Wesleyan Journal of Psychology Vol. 1, 2006: pp. 57-71.

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Martin, C.K. “Girls, Video Games, and the Traditional Stereotype of Female Characters” Communication 270, 1999.

Peterson, R. and Jun, M. “Eating Disorders and Advertising Effects: an Exploration” Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, 2004.

Ward, S. Buck, M. Hofman, B. Tanjic, S. and Whyte D. “Baby You Got Me in the Shape I’m In: Factors Which Determine Body Image” ANZMAC 2000 Visionary Marketing for the 21st Century: Facing the Challenge 2000.

Stice, E. and Whitenton, K. “Risk Factors for Body Dissatisfaction in Adolescent Girls: A Longitudinal Investigation”, Developmental Psychology, Vol. 38, No. 5, 2002: pp. 669–678.

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"Media Exposure and the Subsequent Effects on Body Dissatisfaction: A Review of the Current Research." IvyPanda, 5 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/media-exposure-and-the-subsequent-effects-on-body-dissatisfaction-a-review-of-the-current-research/.

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IvyPanda. "Media Exposure and the Subsequent Effects on Body Dissatisfaction: A Review of the Current Research." October 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-exposure-and-the-subsequent-effects-on-body-dissatisfaction-a-review-of-the-current-research/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Media Exposure and the Subsequent Effects on Body Dissatisfaction: A Review of the Current Research." October 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-exposure-and-the-subsequent-effects-on-body-dissatisfaction-a-review-of-the-current-research/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Media Exposure and the Subsequent Effects on Body Dissatisfaction: A Review of the Current Research'. 5 October.

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